NSLM Announces The Horse In Ancient Greek Art

This exhibition explores the importance of the horse in ancient Greek culture through imagery of the horse in ancient myth, war, sport, and competition. Organized by the National Sporting Library & Museum and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the exhibition features Greek vases, sculpture, and coins from the 8th through the 4th centuries BCE. The objects on display, some on public exhibition for the first time, are drawn from private collections, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Tampa Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and other museum collections. 

Co-curated by Dr. Peter Schertz, the Jack and Mary Ann Frable Curator of Ancient Art, VMFA, and Nicole Stribling, Curator of Permanent Collections, NSLM, the exhibition opens in Middleburg on September 9, 2017, and travels to Richmond in spring 2018.

From some of the earliest examples of the horse in Greek art to stunning black- and red-figure vases, the objects on view illustrate ancient equestrian life. Horses appear in ancient fine art as symbols of wealth, power, and status. Imagery of both real and imagined horses are prevalent in Greek mythology, legend, and history. Vase paintings depicting chariot horses being harnessed, jockeys riding, and grooms tending to well-bred steeds celebrate ancient sport and competition. Scenes of the care, training, and competition of the sport horse along with ancient texts on the Greek art of horsemanship show striking parallels to the horsemanship of today.

This innovative view of Greek equine imagery will be fully examined and illustrated in an exhibition catalog, published by the NSLM in partnership with VMFA, and distributed by Yale University Press. The publication will feature essays by notable scholars of ancient Greek art and archaeology: Seán Hemingway, Curator, Greek and Roman Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Carol Mattusch, Mathy Professor Emerita of Art History, George Mason University; John Oakley, Chancellor Professor and Forrest D. Murden Jr. Professor of Classical Studies, The College of William and Mary in Virginia; Seth D. Pevnick, Chief Curator and Richard E. Perry Curator of Greek and Roman Art, Tampa Museum of Art; and exhibition co-curator Peter Schertz, the Jack and Mary Ann Frable Curator of Ancient Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The catalog will be available in both softcover ($30) and hardcover ($45) editions, and can be purchased in the museum gift shop or online beginning in September 2017.

The Horse in Ancient Greek Art at the NSLM is made possible in part by support from Frances Massey Dulaney and other private donors.

The exhibit will be at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM), Middleburg, VA; Sept. 9, 2017 – Jan. 14, 2018, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), Richmond, VA; Feb. 17 – July 8, 2018.

Related NSLM Programming

Guided tours will be available throughout the run of the exhibition. Tour topics explore the history of ancient Greek culture, mythology, literature, and art, as well as equestrian topics. Public school, independent and private school, and home school groups will receive tours of the exhibition free of charge. Contact Anne Marie Barnes at [email protected] or 540-687-6542 ext. 25 for more information.

(NSLM) is located in Middleburg, Virginia, the heart of beautiful hunt country. Founded in 1954, the renowned research Library, and fine art Museum highlight the rich heritage and tradition of country pursuits. Angling, horsemanship, shooting, steeplechasing, foxhunting, flat racing, polo, coaching, and wildlife are among the subjects one can explore in the organization’s general stacks, rare book holdings, archives, and art collection. The NSLM offers a wide variety of educational programs, exhibitions, and family activities throughout the year, and is open to researchers and the general public. While there is no admission fee to the Library, the Museum charges $10 for adults, $8 for youths (age 13-18), and $8 for seniors. NSLM members and children age 12 and under are free. Library & Museum hours are Wednesday – Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.



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