Getty Villa Hosts New Exhibits Featuring the Roman Silver Treasure from Berthouville and Funerary Vases from Southern Italy

The Silver Treasure of Berthouville
The Silver Treasure of Berthouville is on display at the Getty Villa from November 2014 to August 2015

Two new exhibits opened at the Getty Villa in Malibu, CA this past week. The Getty Villa located on an iconic cliff in Malibu, California, is part of the J. Paul Getty Foundation, founded by J Paul Getty, an avid supporter and admirer of Ancient Greece and the artistic creations of the Ancient Greek Civilization.

The two new exhibits, titled “Ancient Luxury and the Roman Silver Treasure from Berthouville” and “Dangerous Perfection: Funerary Vases from Southern Italy,” display items that were recovered and restored from Normandy, France and Ceglie Del Campo, Italy respectively. Although the particular exhibits are not displaying items from Ancient Greece, the J. Paul Getty Foundation has recently signed several agreements with the Greek Ministry of Culture and has been one of the few Museum organizations to return items to its birthplace in Greece and to also borrow items from Greece as part of its numerous exhibits.

Statue of Mercury (Hermes in Greek), God of Commerce

The first exhibit, which opened in November 2014 and runs until August 2015, looks at the “Berthouville Treasure,” which was first discovered accidentally by a French farmer plowing near the village of Berthouville in 1830. The silver statuettes and vessels that he uncovered were ancient offerings to the Gallo-Roman god Mercury (Hermes in Greek). It is the first time the Treasure has been on view in its entirety outside of France and the first time ever that it’s been seen since its restoration. It also contains several gold coins and jewelry of exceptional craftsmanship. The Getty Foundation has also sponsored the publishing of a book related to this exhibit. The book discussing the story behind the Roman Silver Treasure in Berthouville was written by Kenneth Lapatin and is available for purchase directly from the Getty Museum.


Vases from Southern Italy will be on display at the Getty Villa
Vases from Southern Italy will be on display at the Getty Villa

The second exhibit, which opened in November 2014 and runs until August 2015, displays thirteen Apulian vases which reflects on how Greek myth was used to help understand death, but also highlights the debate about to what extent ancient works should be restored, as the work that the 19th century restorer Raffaele Gargiulo who worked on the vases could be characterized as “dangerous perfection.” The curator at the Getty stressed that during the 19th Century, works of art like these were restored as opposed to present-day techniques that seek to conserve them. The vases’ themes show the Greek influences on the local population in Apulia during the 4th century B.C. and are testimony to the far-reaching influence of the Greek civilization at its cultural peak.