The Museum is currently closed for renovation.
The Ishibashi Foundation Collection
14th century B.C., Black granite The body of a young woman and the head of a lioness are ingeniously combined by means of a headdress. The head is crowned with the solar disk and the uraeus or sacred snake, symbolizing a connection with the sun god, Ra; the scepter in her hand indicates that she was goddess of Lower Egypt. This statue of the goddess Sekhmet is characteristic of art from the reign of Amenhotep III, during the New Kingdom. Its stylized shapes and regular lines combine harmoniously form both bold and graceful. According to Egyptian mythology, Sekhmet (whose name means “Powerful Woman”) was daughter of the sun god, Ra, consort of Ptah, the chief god of Memphis, and mother of the god Nefertem. Sekhmet was known as a goddess greatly to be feared: she could cause floods, pestilence, and massacres.
Hellenistic period (323-30 B.C.), Marble The pure white marble from the island of Paros in the Aegean Sea used in this statue was regarded in ancient Greece as the ideal material for representations of Venus. The pose, in which the left hand holds her garment, which covers her from the hips on down, to keep it from fluttering in the wind, symbolizes Venus, who was born of the sea foam. In the Hellenistic period, extensive cultural contacts between Greek culture and that of the East, the result of the empire that Alexander the Great had built, led to the emergence of a new aesthetic. Statues were placed not only in temples but also in other public, urban structures and in private homes as well. As the connection between religion and art weakened, secular tendencies grew more pronounced. As in this work, the gods were presented in more human form. Greater dynamism replaced static postures that had indicated the eternal.
Head of a Philosopher
4th century B.C., Marble This portrait sculpture from the fourth century B.C. is known as the “Head of a Philosopher.” Since the carving at the back is rough and the head lacks a right ear, it was probably part of a funerary sculpture composed of several figures placed in a box-like space. During the Hellenistic period, a naturalisti style that presented the human figure simply and honestly flourished. In this example, the slight tilt of the head, the intently staring eyes, the eyebrows drawn together in concern reveal the inner life and subtle feelings of a human being. It is characteristic of the arts of this period that they went beyond the earlier pursuit of an idealized form to achieve a dynamic expression of the full range of human feelings and the vigorous movements of the human body.
Painter of Boulogne 441, Attic Black-Figure Neck-Amphora
Herakles and Kerberos
520-510 B.C. An amphora is a vessel for serving wine. This example is decorated with a scene from the Labors of Hercules (Herakles) on the front and shows warriors and their retinues going off to battle on the rear. In the tale of the Labors of Hercules, a theme from Greek myth, Hercules, having aroused the enmity of Hera, consort of Zeus, was required to serve King Eurystheus for twelve years, during which the king ordered him to carry out twelve labors, twelve feats so difficult they seemed impossible to perform. Of them, the most challenging of all was to capture alive Cerberus (Kerberos), the multi-headed, serpent-tailed beast that guarded the entrance to Hades. The design on the amphora shows Hercules clothed in a lion’s coat as, guided by Hermes and Athena, he brings Cerberus out of Hades. As this example shows, by the sixth century B.C., Greek ceramics had achieved a quite rational form. In black-figure painting, decorating was applied to a pot in a slip that would turn black in firing and details incised into the slip.
Bowl, decorated with elephant design in white sgraffito
11th - 12th century, Pottery The elephant at the center and the vine surrounding it were not painted with a brush but are a pattern made to surface by scraping off the clay. After the shape of the bowl was formed in reddish clay, it was coated with white clay, which was then scraped off. In order to make the pattern stand out, a brown glaze was poured over the scraped-off parts with a green glaze added at several points and then the entire bowl was covered in a slightly yellowish transparent glaze.
Dropper Flask, decorated with ornamental protrusions
3rd century, Glass The dark shadow visible where the body and neck are joined is a binding made by twisting the glass. As the bottle is designed to be poured little by little, it would appear to be for balm or perfume. There are six tiny projections at the foot, but it would be difficult to stand on these adorable feet. There are also five ridges pulled out with pincers on the body, making it a decorative glasswork.