The Getty Villa

A Quick Detour
Season's Greetings! For the next few weeks I've prepared enough articles for this blog so that I can post on Mondays and Fridays. It's winter break, school is out, and my wife and I are about to have our 2nd child! Which is why on a day like today I am reminded of a trip I took with my family last year.

Last October my wife and I took our son (who was less than 6 months old) to Disneyland in California. We also visited her Great Aunt and Uncle who live near Venice Beach. My favorite part about this trip was the quick detour we took to the Pacific Palisades to visit the Getty Villa. The Getty Villa is a marvelous museum filled with 44,000 Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities from 6,500 BC to 400 AD. It is one of the largest collections of Ancient Greek artifacts in the United States. 
The gardens surrounding the museum are amazing, and filled with plant life native to the Mediterranean. 
It was a beautiful day in California. The Museum is filled with impressive galleries of bronze and marble statues. There are also countless glass displays filled with ancient treasures (combs, pottery, figurines, and jewelry). Every where you step you are face to face with wondrous works of art. The craftsmanship involved in everything the Greeks made is a testament to their skill. That is what makes the Getty museum so cool. It is easy to think of ancient people as primitive, but then you see their beautifully painted vases and realize that they are anything but. Take some time to analyze the vase below. Do you notice how geometrically perfect the feathers of the wings are? An artisan painted that by hand. 
The vessel above is in almost perfect quality and illustrates how ornate and amazing the images on the sides of these vases can be. It depicts Triptolemos, a prince of the city of Eleusis riding in a winged chariot that is being drawn by snakes. The goddess Demeter (behind him) is handing him stalks of wheat, while his daughter (before him) presents him with a liquid offering. 

This statue is called the "Lansdowne Herakles." He is carrying his mighty club in one hand and the skin of the Nemean Lion in the other. Herakles is presented in the nude because the Greeks considered male nudity to be the highest form of beauty. This statue is probably a copy of an older statue from the 300s BC. It was found in the ruins of a villa in Rome that belonged to Emperor Hadrian (of Hadrian's Wall fame). It was obtained by J. Paul Getty from Lord Lansdowne who owned the statue previously and displayed it in his London home. The room holding the statue is just as impressive as the statue itself. It is surrounded by a stunning marble mosaic, inspired by some of the real mosaics and frescoes on display at the museum. It really is a beautiful place to visit, it is a relatively small museum but dense.  
Finally, after exploring the museum for a few hours, my Wife, son and I went to an amazing seafood restaurant right next to the beach. We sat in the afternoon sun enjoying shrimp cocktail and the sounds of the crashing waves. It was during this trip that I decided that I would make the Ancient Greek campaign setting come to life. It is impossible to not feel adventure tug at your heart as the endless smashing of the ocean beating against the shore calls to you. Then we took our baby son and let him feel the waters of the pacific ocean on his feet for the first time. 


Popular Posts