Medea Holding the Sword She Will Use to Kill Her Children Wall painting from the Villa Arianna in Stabiae (W 26), AD 1st century Fresco and secco technique on plaster, h 38 cm, w 26 cm Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli by license of Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali (or MiBAC) – National Archaeological Museum of Naples © National Archaeological Museum of Naples
5 October 2018 to 10 February 2019
On view from 5 October 2018 to 10 February 2019 at the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, the major special exhibition “Medea’s Love and the Quest for the Golden Fleece” will recount an important tale of Greek mythology. It is the story of a fabulous adventure and a great love that ends in disaster. Original Greek and Roman sculptures, vases, paintings and wall paintings from the Vesuvian cities of Pompeii and Stabiae will illustrate the voyage of the Argonauts and the love of Jason and Medea.
Important loans from such institutions as the British Museum in London, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, the Paris Louvre and the Vatican Museums in Rome will bring the events to life – the perilous maritime expedition of the Greek prince Jason and the Argonauts, the capture of the Golden Fleece and the murderous deeds of the two lovers. On the occasion of this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair with Georgia as its guest of honour, outstanding bronze and gold objects from the Georgian National Museum will also be presented within the framework of the show. The splendid jewellery and other millennia-old treasures will underscore the ancient description of Medea’s native Colchis as a “land of gold riches”. With their exceptional beauty, the designs of the Bronze Age weapons, vessels and gold jewellery objects testify to especially skilled craftsmanship. “Medea’s Love and the Quest for the Golden Fleece” moreover draws on very recent research on imagery illustrating the Greek myths, in particular the saga of the Argonauts. Since their rediscovery in 1885, the interpretation of the famous Quirinal bronzes, the so-called Terme Boxer and Terme Ruler has been a matter of controversy. Investigations carried out in the context of the Liebieghaus’s polychromy research have yielded new findings on the formal and narrative designs of the two bronzes and confirmed their interpretation as figures from one of the key adventures of the Argonaut saga. The statues have thus come to be a main focus of the exhibition project, for which elaborate reconstructions of them have been realized.
The exhibition “Medea’s Love and the Quest for the Golden Fleece” is being carried out with support from the Hessische Kulturstiftung, the City of Frankfurt am Main and the Georgian Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports.
“The figure of Medea has been fascinating people for thousands of years – a circumstance no less true in the present than it was in ancient times. It was the classical tragedian Euripides who cast her in the form still valid today. Yet hardly anyone knows that her story is closely linked, geographically speaking, to present-day Georgia. It is a source of great pleasure to us to have the opportunity, in cooperation with the Republic of Georgia, to recount the entire course of events from happy adventure to hapless love with the aid of prominent artworks of antiquity and the famous golden treasures of Georgia”, comments Philipp Demandt, the Director of the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung.