Art of the ancient Mediterranean world has been a vital and enduring source of inspiration for artists. Since Rome’s conquest of Greece and adoption of its artistic legacy, artists have looked to the classical world in search of forms to lend beauty and prestige to art of their own era. While there have been “classical” revivals since late antiquity, the late eighteenth century saw a proliferation of antique forms in the decorative arts of Europe and America, partly fueled by the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Today we enjoy the ripple effect of those discoveries, as artists continue to deploy antiquity in a variety of ways in the fine and decorative arts.
Drawn largely from the holdings of the Museum’s Department of Textiles and Costumes, this exhibition examined forms and motifs associated with the ancient world of the Mediterranean and their reinterpretation in dress and textiles over the past two and a half centuries.