I’ve blogged recently about my visit to the archaeological site of Delphi and previously about the remarkable bronze statue of the Charioteer of Delphi in the site museum. Now I would like to write about some of the other exhibits in the museum.
The sculpture in the picture above is on the path that leads to the museum and intrigued me when I looked at it. Sometimes objects just draw your attention without you quite knowing why. It’s something to do with the repetition of the shell shapes, the stylised leaves and whirls, and that strange flower at the top with what appears to be handles half way up the stem. I’ve read somewhere that shells were sometimes used in frescoes to indicate death. In the famous mosaic of Theodora in San Vitale in Ravenna she is shown standing under a scallop-shaped building which some people have taken to mean that the mosaic was made after her death.
A 4th century BC head of a woman (supposedly influenced by Praxiteles):
I liked the next head too, not for any merit in the sculpting, but because it still bears traces of colour from the original paint. Looking at perfect white sculptures in museums today, it is easy to forget that many were painted when they were originally made and that the paint has worn off over the centuries or (as in the case of the Parthenon marbles) been cleaned off to conform to a false concept of what classical sculpture should look like.
A statue described as a ‘philosopher’:
The column of the Dancing Girls was donated to Delphi by Athens in 330BC. It consisted a drum column, on top of which sat this sculpture of girls in dancing attitudes.
Above the statue of the girls originally sat a cauldron and above that an omphalos (the marble original of which is now lost) in a woollen net with precious jewels set at the intersections of the net. On top of the cauldron perched a double eagle. It must have been spectacular!
A statue of Antinoos, lover of the Emperor Hadrian who drowned in the Nile in 130AD in mysterious circumstances.
Various metopes from the Treasury of the Siphnians showing the Gigantomachy (Battle of the Gods against the Giants):
This pair of kouroi, a gift from Argos in 580BC, are thought to depict two brother Cleobis and Biton. Their story is rather odd. They dragged their mother in her cart to Argos to worship at the temple of Hera when the oxen were not available. At the temple the mother asked Hera for a gift for her sons and she granted them a peaceful death in their sleep. A case of be careful what you ask for – especially when your mother is involved. Alternatively they could represent the dioskouroi, Castor and Pollux (twin brothers of Helen and Clytemnestra) and the children of Leda.
I can’t remember what this group is, but I really like their slightly sinister smiley faces and the way the artist has captured the figures in movement.
The second, also possibly 6th century BC, depicts Artemis.
A winged Victory figure with leg raised in a running pose:
The face of a rather cuddly looking lion:
A badly damaged 6th century BC Apollo sitting rather uncomfortably on a tripod, from the east pediment of his temple. Originally he would have been holding a myrtle branch and a flat cup (symbols of his oracle) and accompanied on either side by the Muses:
Finally, one of the star exhibits, a statue of a bull originally made from three silver sheets by an Ionian artist in 6th century BC: