Getty Villa
Page 1 of 4

October 1, 2009
Posted December 22,  2009
© 2009, Herbert E. Lindberg

This page is part of a multi-tour visit with Walt and Hazel:


Our third tour was to the Getty Villa in a beautiful Malibu setting overlooking the ocean. I begin below with some background material gleaned from the excellent Getty Villa website (link above). Most, if not all, of the art objects I photographed and present here are given in more organized form on the Getty Villa website. However, the photographs here are much larger and varied in only 4 web pages. I give the gleaned information below to place these pages in perspective. I suggest that you follow the Getty Villa links after viewing my pages, except for the 12-minute Getty Villa Video, which you should view now to put Getty's vision into perspective.

Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius figure strongly into the Getty Villa story, so it is also worthwhile to view an animation of the Mt. Vesuvius eruption and resulting devastation as viewed from Pompeii.  It is an unforgettable depiction of what it was like:
Vesuvius Eruption

The Getty Villa in Malibu is an educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.

17985 Pacific Coast Highway
Pacific Palisades, California 90272

Phone Number
(310) 440-7300

What to See
Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities arranged by themes including Gods and Goddesses, Dionysos and the Theater, and Stories of the Trojan War

Roman-inspired architecture and gardens

Getty Villa Video (12:22)
This introductory film describes the history, collections, and setting of the Getty Villa. 

Admission to the Getty Villa and to all exhibitions is FREE. An advance, timed ticket is required for each adult. Each Villa general admission ticket allows you to bring up to three children ages 15 and under with you in one car. (This does not apply to tickets for events, such as lectures and performances.)

Book your free tickets to the Getty Villa now.

Parking and Directions
Parking is $15 per car or motorcycle. It is FREE for all evening public programming, including theater, music, film, lectures, and other special programs held after 5:00 p.m. 

Opening Hours
Hours for the Getty Villa site and galleries:

Wednesday–Monday  10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Tuesday                    CLOSED
Closed on January 1, July 4, Thanksgiving, and December 25.

The photos here are simply given in the order they were taken. The museum exhibit rooms are laid out in chronological order, so the pictures are organized to that extent. Photographs cover less than 10% of what was on display and a much smaller fraction of the total Getty collection.


Outdoor theater near the museum entrance (out of view on the right)

Colonnade and gathering hall between the outdoor theater and museum entrance.

Lorraine and Dick relax while they wait for me and others.

Detail of the colonnade hall

Storage Jar with an Episode from "The Seven against Thebes"
Attributed to Caivano Painter; Greek, Campania, Italy, about 340 B.C., Terracotta

Bowls and storage jar/vase

Close-up of central storage vase

Sarcophagus with Scenes of Bacchus; Unknown artist, Roman, Rome, A.D. 210 - 220.; with supports: 1800s Marble

The inscription on the lid of this sarcophagus identifies its former occupant, Maconiana Severiana, as being from a senatorial family. "To the soul of the deceased. For Maconiana Severiana, the sweetest daughter, Marcus Sempronius Faustinianus, vir clarissimus [holding a senatorial rank], and Praecilia Severiana, clarissima femina [from a senatorial family], her parents [had this made]." Given the small size of the sarcophagus, Maconiana must have been a child or adolescent.

The front of the sarcophagus shows a Dionysiac revel, culminating in the discovery of the sleeping Ariadne, shown lying down on the right. Abandoned by the Greek hero Theseus, Ariadne awakened to a new life with Dionysos, the god of wine. The goat-legged Pan lifts the veil from her prone figure while satyrs, maenads, and a panther surround the drunken Dionysos.

The back of the sarcophagus shows another Dionysiac scene of winemaking carved in a simpler, flatter style. Panels with related figures flanking the central inscription on the lid. For the Romans, Dionysos was associated with the hope of a better afterlife; thus many sarcophagi show the god and his followers.

Sculpted stone sarcophagi, which came into use in the 200s A.D., soon became symbols of wealth and status. Since Romans favored certain themes for sarcophagi, they were often bought ready-made and then customized by the addition of a portrait of the deceased. The blank face of Ariadne should have been carved as a portrait of Maconiana Severiana. Why it was left blank in this instance is not clear.

Pair of vases

Lidded Cauldron with a Satyr; Greek, made in the eastern Mediterranean, 50--1 B.C., Bronze and silver, Lebes

A lively satyr springs from a swirl of flowering tendrils, grape leaves, and plants. He decorates a cauldron that probably functioned as the centerpiece of an elaborate wine service for some aspect of the cult of Dionysos (God of wine). The satyr bares his silvered teeth in a wild, impudent grin as he gestures toward the wine that would have been stored inside the vessel.

Close-up of Satyr

Mixing Vessel with a Deceased Youth; Greek, made in Apulia, South Italy, 330-320 B.C.
Terracotta; Red-figured volute krater attributed to the Underworld Painter

On this mixing vessel made for dedication at a cemetery, a nude youth sits within a small building. The white covering his body indicates that he is deceased. The comic mask he holds and the open scroll lying on the ground beneath him show that he was either an actor or a playwright.

Miniature Theater Masks

The Greek playwright Menander (342--291 B.C.) popularized New Comedy, so named in contrast to the Old Comedy of Aristophanes (448--386 B.C.). Menander's plays significantly influenced the later development of Roman Comedy. Conventional plot lines of New Comedy involve stock characters such as elderly couples, slaves, and young lovers, who always triumph over the numerous obstacles placed in their path to happiness. These comedic characters provided subject matter for miniature taracotta theater masks, which were pierced with holes for suspension and display.

Close-up of a theater mask

Bust of Menander; Roman, A.D. 100 - 150, Marble

This Roman herm depicts the Greek comic playwright Menander, who lived from about 342 to 291 B.C. The herm reproduces the head of a lost Greek bronze portrait statue by Kephisodotos the Younger and Timarchos, the sons of the artist Praxiteles. The Roman writer Pausanias mentions the original Greek bronze statue, which was set up in the Theater of Dionysos in Athens shortly after Menander's death.

The middle-aged man shown in this portrait is known from several other versions of the statue, and the occasional example inscribed with his name confirms the identification of all of these versions as Menander. His plays enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the Roman period, creating a demand for portraits of him.

Beginning in the 500s B.C., Greeks placed herms, pillars surmounted by a head of the god Hermes, at physical boundaries, such as crossroads or even doorways. Such places were sites of ritual and worship where the herms served a magical, protective function. The Romans later adapted the Greek concept of the herm, using it for non-religious, decorative purposes. The heads on Roman herms are often portraits of famous people.


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