Metropolitan Museum of Arts — II
This is part II of the Met, focusing on few art pieces. For the general overview of the Met, please have a look at Metropolitan Museum of Art — I.
Part of my 2021 resolution is to write about a museum every month. This idea originated last May, after I learnt about the International Museum Day. I don’t have any art background whatsoever, so most of the stories/contents are based-off my memories from the museum tours.
January — Legion of Honor
February — San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
March — Metropolitan Museum of Art I
Bronze statue of Eros sleeping
Eros, the Greek name of the God of Love, more commonly known as Cupid. This well-preserved Hellenistic status is extremely rare — less than 20 worldwide, according to the highlight tour guide. After all, most of the bronze statue from the Hellenistic period were recycled into weapons and armors. Moreover, this status is also one of the first baby Eros. Before this, Eros resembled the formation of a mean and cruel adolescent. This adorable baby Eros completely reshaped the idealistic image of God with its chubby features, amiable & approachable facial expressions.
The stone base is not an original, though it fits seamlessly with the statue.
Cupid by Michelangelo
This marble statue was placed (as of 2020, pre-COVID) in the hallway connecting the Medieval Art and the Armors. There is a really twisted story behind this statue, as I learnt on the museum highlight tour.
This statue was initially placed in the garden of the French Embassy down the street. During a banquet, a Met curator saw this statue, and suspected it was sculpted by the Michelangelo. The curator spoke with the French Embassy, and this statue was loaned to the Met indefinitely, under the condition to find its true sculptor.
After almost a decade of back and forth research between the Met and le Louvre, curators finally concluded it as an art piece by the Michelangelo. It is also the only Michelangelo collection of the Met.
A wood & metal sculpture of the Dogon people of Africa. I was told the Dogon people have no written language, so everything is passed down either verbally or by artworks such as this.
This figure illustrates a married couple. The artist purposely made them alike — both seated evenly on a wooden stool, both are of the same height, the figurines are connected with the husband’s arm over the shoulder of the wife. We are able to distinguish between the husband and wife due to their obvious gender distinctions: the breast of the wife, and the genital of the husband. This signifies the rights and equality of husband and wife within a family.
The wife carries a baby on her back, while the husband carries toolkit. In other words, wives are responsible for bearing child, while husbands are responsible feeding the family. The legs of the stool are said to be the ancestors, so the culture is passed down generation by generation.
Bedroom from Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale
The notorious Mount Vesuvius eruption of 79AD froze the life and time of the Bay of Naples in southern Italy. It wasn’t until 1970s, when archaeologists discovered the buried Roman settlements of Pompeii and Herculaneum, that we are able to recover amazing Roman wallpaintings such as this.
This room follows a standard second style Roman painting, also known as the “Architectural Style”. This style incorporated the faux marble blocks of the first style, and implied architectural elements to trick the viewers as if they were looking through a window.
Tomb of Meketre
The entire room is designated to the artifacts discovered in a hidden chamber of the Tomb of Meketre, a royal chief of Dynasty 11 and 12. All the accessible rooms of this tomb had been robbed. The room was discovered in 1920s when museum excavator cleaned-out the debris for an accurate floor plan. The Met and the Egyptian Museum evenly divided all the models.
The models depicted the burial ceremony and afterlife of Meketre — from the boat burial on the Nile river to his afterlife assets. The lady with a basked on her head is an estate figure. It is believed that together with her companion in Cairo, they are the funerary goddesses Isis and Nephthys.
Singer of Amun Nany
This room displays a set of funerary artifacts of Nany, a ritual singer and the “king’s daughter”. During the mummification process, all internal organs, except the heart, are removed and preserved separately in the canopic jars.
The most important item for the mummy is undoubtedly the Book of the Dead — also known as the GPS for the dead. Every Book of the Dead differs in a way or the other, but the Judgment of Osiris (or the Weighing of the Heart, or the Feather of Truth), must be present in the Book of Dead, as it is the crucial step of becoming mummified. Nany with her mouth and eyes in hands stands to the left of the large scale, goddess Isis stands behind her. To the right of the scale sits the god of the underworld and rebirth. Nany’s heart is weighed against a feather. Nany can only be mummified and granted rebirth (eternity) when the scale is balanced, indicating that she had led an ethical life.
The little 14-year-old dancer
Degas is an impressionist especially associated with dancing. The Met has numerous dancer artworks by Degas, and I’ve also seen many of his dancing artworks elsewhere. However, this little dancer sculpture is my favorite by far.
Originally a wax sculpture, and the only one publicly exhibited during Edgar Degas’s lifetime, this little 14-year-old dancer later casted in bronze (total of 72 copies) by Degas’ friend Paul-Albert Bartholomé.
This sculpture reminds me of the Fearless Girl of Wall Street — both stands proudly, heads-up fearlessly looking into the future. I simply love the positivity conveys in this artwork!
I first saw this taxidermied deer at the end of November, before the holiday seasons. Ever since, it always reminds me of festivity and holiday. So I miraculously become more joyful whenever I think about this artwork. =)
Kohei Nawa used different sized PixCell beads, an idea of “pixel” and “cell”, to magnify, distort, and reflect the deer. It is said this deer unintentionally resonated a religious painting of the Kasuga Deer Mandala, a Shinto deities of the Kasuga Shrine in Nara.