AIA Lecture Features Christopher Hallett

Join us for Ancient Bronzes as Art Objects: Roman Collectors & “Corinthian Bronzes,” a lecture featuring Christopher Hallett, Professor of Roman Art with the Department of History of Art, University of California at Berkeley.

An art market came into being in the late Hellenistic period that supplied bronze statues, large and small, to rich collectors.  With the emergence of competitive art collecting by the super-rich at Rome, bronze figurines seem to have acquired a new function; and this dramatically changed their form and their appearance.  The result was a novel kind of bronze statuette, well attested in the ancient literary sources, and referred to as aes Corinthum, or Corinthia — “Corinthian bronzes”.

This paper argues that many of these notorious “Corinthian bronzes” actually survive from antiquity; we can even date their first appearance in the archaeological record, and chart something of their evolution over time.  The popularity of the collectible bronze figurine in contemporary culture also gave rise to the employment of bronze statuettes in domestic cult in Roman homes: the familiar figures of the Roman Lares.  And it stimulated besides the conspicuous use of “processional statuettes” in rituals and public ceremonies throughout the Roman world—a usage well documented for us today in Roman historical relief.

This lecture is sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America.