Hellenism would not have existed were it not for Alexander the Great, who spread Greek culture over the territories he had conquered. His own court artists may well have led the way with key figures as the sculptor Lysippos and the painter Apelles.
The huge amount of money and wealth that was available after Alexander’s death was not invested only in warfare among his successors but eventually went into promoting the image and prosperity of the following Hellenistic kings and their entourage. The kings of Pergamon were no exception and the artworks brought together at the Metropolitan Museum in New York clearly illustrate what it meant to live in a Hellenistic city.
Until 17 July 2016, the museum will be showing some 264 artifacts from those glorious times that span roughly three hundred years, from 323 BC the date of Alexander’s death until 133 BC when the Pergamon kingdom fell to the Romans.
The centerpiece for me is obviously the splendid bronze and silver statuette of Alexander the Great on horseback dating from the first century BC that is on loan from the Museo Nazionale of Naples, and was exhibited recently among the bronzes in Firenze, Italy (see: A splendid collection of Greek bronze masterpieces).
But there are, of course, many other statues in marble and bronze, as well as statuettes in terracotta; also exhibited are engraved cameos, gold and silver coins, some delicate gold jewelry, fine glassware, and much more.
The collection has been put together thanks to the collaboration of museums from Germany (obviously including the Pergamon Museum that contributed to one-third of the collection), Greece, France, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia and the United States.
It is a unique opportunity for those living in or travelling to the New-York area to see all these masterpieces at first hand!