THE ANCIENT MAN: THE REAL AND THE IMAGINARY – THE GREEK VESSELS IN THE “MARIA AND DR. GEORGE SEVEREANU” COLLECTION

The exhibition “The Ancient Man: the Real and the Imaginary. The Greek Vessels in the Maria and Dr. George Severeanu Collection” introduces the public into the atmosphere of ancient Greece by following the evolution of Greek ceramics from the 10th century B.C. to the 4th century B.C. The objects on display are part of a very valuable collection gathered by Dr. George Severeanu at the beginning of the last century and donated to the Bucharest Municipality Museum.

George Severeanu was born on the 26th of July 1879 in Bucharest and was passionate about collecting historical objects ever since he was a child, inspired and supported by his father Constantin Dimitrescu Severeanu, who was also passionate about history. Constantin Dumitrescu Severeanu treated one of the kings of Greece who then gifted him a collection of Corinthian vessels, a geometric-style jug and a funerary lekytos with a white background and sepia drawn silhouettes. This way, George Severeanu’s interests as a collector continued his father’s interest in historical patrimony. During that time, the great medics were also important collectors (I. Cantacuzino, Constantin Ionescu Mihăești, I. Dona, H. Slobozeanu) and G. Severeneanu developed his passion by focusing on collecting and researching certain categories of artifacts, whilst also practicing his medical career that focused on specializing in radiology – he was one of the main promoters of this medical science as treatment for various disease in Romania.

Painted Greek ceramics continue to captivate the imagination of people for thousands of years. The majority of the communities created vessels of different shapes and sizes according to their use, but only very few centers produced such masterpieces. These were generally used to deposit, transport, mix and serve and in some cases they were selected to be offered to the Gods as part of funerary rituals. Most of the times, the vessel was created by a potter on a pottery wheel and then decorated by a painter according to the technique used at the time.

The paintings explore a large variety of subjects, from domestic scenes, to sport competitions, warriors wrestling, legends and mythological beings. The real and the imaginary worlds mix together in these themes, as men and gods, animals and fantasy creatures are depicted together.

The quality of the technique and painting makes them true works of art. Each piece represents an opportunity to learn information about a fascinating civilization and to fill in the data offered by the literary or epigraphic resources.

By combining the illustrated pieces and the collection of objects previously mentioned, the exhibition aims to suggest an evolution of ancient Greek ceramics. The guests are invited to discover the meaning of the images on the vessels as well as the story of the society that created them.

The exhibition is organized by the Bucharest Municipality Museum and is open at the Suțu Palace from December 18th 2015 to July 10th 2016, offering a new opportunity for the public to encounter a valuable heritage in the “Maria and Dr. George Severeanu” collection.

Dan Pîrvulescu, Raluca Popescu

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