The Classical World
Multiple faces from the distant past greet visitors to The Classical World: a Roman freedman staring out from a marble grave altar carved in the second century AD; a pair of satyrs on Greek drinking cups from the sixth and fifth centuries BC; and a brightly painted terracotta maiden created to adorn the roofline of an Etruscan building in the fifth century BC. Together, these faces speak to the extraordinary scope of classical antiquity, spanning many centuries across broad geographical areas, and including numerous ancient cultures whose many contributions to western civilization can hardly be overstated—from the alphabet and democracy to countless masterworks of literature and the visual arts.
For more than 30 years, the Tampa Museum of Art has collected artwork from across classical antiquity, which this exhibition explores from its prehistoric beginnings to its late Roman decline (i.e., from the third millennium BC into the fourth and fifth centuries AD). With important loans from local private collectors augmenting the permanent collection, The Classical World includes nearly 300 artworks produced in ancient
Greece and Italy as well as North Africa and the Near East. Following the diverse faces first welcoming visitors, the exhibition is arranged across two galleries according to chronology, medium, and culture. Particularly noteworthy is the Museum’s collection of black-figure and red-figure pottery, produced mainly in Greece and South Italy during the sixth, fifth, and fourth centuries BC. Also included are important works of sculpture in terracotta, stone, and precious metal, as well as ancient coins, jewelry, and glass vessels. The exhibition concludes with a life-sized painted Egyptian anthropoid sarcophagus.