Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is Lending America Its Unique Collection of Sculptures from Palmyra

Published the 18th of April 2018

This year The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles will be unveiling a new presentation of its collection of antiquities at The Getty Villa. In this context the Glyptotek has lent a large part of its unequalled collection of funerary sculpture from the famous oasis city, Palmyra, in modern Syria for a special exhibition.

In the light of the war in Syria which, among other hardships, has wrought considerable havoc with the local cultural heritage, the Glyptotek’s collection of funerary portraits from the ancient oasis city Palmyra has become seriously topical. By 1980 Palmyra had already been registered on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage list of cultural sights worth visiting, but has now suffered massive, extensive damage.

The Largest Collection Outside Syria
The Glyptotek’s collection is the largest of its kind outside Syria and includes the famous sculpture “The Beauty of Palmyra” which is so well-preserved that the original paint is still visible to the naked eye. This sculpture is presented as a major work in the American special exhibition and has been described in the New York Times, for instance, as a “must-see” (Read more here). The sculptures all date from the period 1st – 3rd centuries AD.

From today (18th April 2018) people will be able to see a large part of the Glyptotek’s collection at The Getty Villa in Los Angeles under the title “Palmyra: Loss and Remembrance.” The Getty will be displaying the portraits in a special exhibition in which the Palmyrene statues will contribute to creating a context for the large Greek and Roman holdings in the museum’s newly-arranged collection of antiquities. At the same time the collection will also focus on the cultural heritage of one of the world’s trouble spots.

“It is with great pleasure that the Glyptotek has lent a large part of its Palmyra Collection to The Getty, who are eager to show that the cultures of antiquity are interlinked and affected each other, such as in the establishment of colonies and trade. The desert city Palmyra is a fantastic example of how hybrid cultures arose in antiquity. In the light of the tragic events in Syria it is now more important than ever that we, as museums, collaborate globally on communicating our common inheritance. We have enjoyed an excellent working relationship, both with the scholars of The Getty and with Professor Rubina Raja from Aarhus University, who has herself specialised in Palmyrene funerary portraits,” says Christine Buhl Andersen, Director of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.

Timothy Potts, the Director of the Getty has previously said to the New York Times, that the Glyptotek’s collection of Palmyrene portraits is, “…the finest selection of Palmyra sculpture outside of Syria.” (Read more here).

Forthcoming Special Exhibitions at the Glyptotek
In the autumn of 2019 the funerary portraits will return to Copenhagen, where they will be presented as part of a special exhibition at the Glyptotek.

The Glyptotek has previously collaborated with The Getty, one example of this being the major special exhibition of the work of the French painter Théodore Rousseau, which was shown in Los Angeles in the summer of 2016 and at the Glyptotek later that autumn. In addition, the two museums are also currently working together on a major conservation and presentation project involving two of the Glyptotek’s paintings: one by Edgar Degas and one by Vincent van Gogh.

About the museum

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek was founded by the brewer, Carl Jacobsen (1842-1914), who was one of the great industrial magnates of the 19th century and the greatest art patron Denmark has seen.

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The Glyptotek’s superlative collection contains both art and archaeological objects and offers ever new perspectives on life, culture and civilization through a time span of 6,000 years.