Several Greek vases which form part of the National Museum of Archaeology’s reserve collection will be on display at the museum, in an espresso exhibition titled From Aphrodite to Eros: Mythology on the Greek Vases in the National Collection which runs from tomorrow, 27th May, until the 21st of September.
Although there are some records of donations of vases by private individuals to the National Museum, further investigations need to be carried out to ascertain the provenance of the Greek vases that are being exhibited. What is known for a fact is that when Ġan Franġisk Abela bequeathed his collection to the Jesuits in 1637, he mentioned, amongst other items, four clay vases painted in red and black.
Later, Jean Houël documented some of these Greek vases in his illustrated book Voyage pittoresque des isles de Sicile, de Malte et de Lipari, published in 1782. Antonio Annetto Caruana also documented these vases in the 1882 Report on Phoenician and Roman Antiquities in the Group of the Islands of Malta.
The aesthetic significance of the vases is in their artistic value. As the exhibition title implies, Greek mythology was frequently depicted on these vases, which descended from generation to generation together with the Greek mythology narrative. Aphrodite and Eros were two of the most preferred subjects to be depicted on these vessels as they represent love and happiness. The Satyrs and Maenads were also preferred subjects, who portrayed eccentricity and jolliness.
From Aphrodite to Eros: Mythology on the Greek Vases in the National Collection provides an insight into the vases’ manufacturing techniques, what they were used for and when they were produced. This exhibition targets adults and younger generations, encouraging them to know more about these Greek vases and the mythology surrounding them.
A booklet about the exhibition may be purchased from the National Museum of Archaeology. A digital version is available here.
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