On June 4, 2014, I have visited The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida. The museum has been attracting thousands of tourists since its opening in 1965. It exhibits myriad works of art ranging from the Ancient masterpieces to the modern pieces of art. My experience of visiting the museum was very enjoyable. I had a wonderful time discovering the diverse and rich collection of art. I believe that museums not only demonstrate art, but educate and inspire us. When I was walking through the halls of the museum, I caught myself thinking that art is not only an object of admiration, it is a great teacher as well; therefore, I would like to come back and explore this wonderful world deeper.
One of the first objects that caught my attention was a Black-Figure Neck Amphora. Unfortunately, the artist is unknown, but it is told that Ancient Greeks usually used this type of jar to store such liquids as oil and wine. This vessel was made in the fifth century BC and belongs to the early Neolithic period. It is square in shape; the neck of the vessel is slightly narrower than the bottom. It also has two handles. The amphora might seem a little plain at first; the surface is painted in orange color, and the ornament is painted in black. The vessel depicts Apollo, the Greek God of music, who is playing cithara. The god is surrounded with four women. In my opinion, this object of art gives a great insight into the Ancient culture. The attention to details is astonishing; I really liked that an artist painted facial expressions with such precision that it feels like he wanted to share a story; he wanted to remind people that Apollo embodied all the beauty of the Ancient Greece, and the best way to celebrate him was to toast him.
I chose this object because of the high quality of the item and its significance in the Ancient Greece. It is only a table-sized ceramic vessel, but it carries so much information about the time when it was produced; it shows how much the Greeks honored their Gods. Therefore, if I had enough money, I would buy it for sure; it would be my own piece of the Ancient Greece.
Another work of art that I found interesting was the painting called Adoration of the Christ Child by Mary and Joseph. The author of the picture is unknown, but it has been determined that it was painted by Italian artist in the late fifteenth – early sixteenth century. It is an oil painting on wood panel. This work displays the scene after the birth of Christ. Joseph and Mary kneel before Jesus and look at him adoringly, so do the angels painted in the center. Jesus Christ lies on a blanket, his head is positioned on a wisp of wheat. The artist uses wheat as a symbol of “Bethlehem, which means “house of bread” in Hebrew”. (Bennett, 2013). The painting shows how human and humble the birth was and stresses the fragility of human life. It also contains images of the angels, Magus, and the shepherds, who anticipated the birth of Christ. One angel painted in the top left corner informs the shepherd about the birth of Jesus.
I think that this work demonstrates not only the talent of the artist, but gives an insight into the creation. Most of the paintings at those times were painted upon the request of the patrons: “Artists were trained… in the traditions that conditioned patrons’ expectations… Other conventions might determine the choice of colors… The settings for the scenes vary from the humble to the sumptuous; figures are variously arranged and endowed with different details and due to changes in style, the same scenes are treated with different degrees of naturalism” (Sorabella, n.d.).
If this item were offered for sale, I would purchase it. Perhaps, this work is not unique; many artists used the theme of the Nativity in that time, but I believe that there is something special about it. The way Joseph looks at the baby Christ is beautiful. I think that there is so much love, care, and gentleness in his gaze. Besides, the fact that the artist is not known only adds mystery.
Last but not the least, one more object that attracted my attention was the statue of a Standing Horse, which belongs to the Han Dynasty that reigned China from 206 BC to 220 AD. The tomb statue is rather large and made out of earthenware with usage of pigment. It is said that the horse might have carried a cavalry soldier. The horse also had a tail, which was molded detachedly, but it is currently missing.
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In China, horses were of great significance and symbolized wealth. Since the attempts to breed horses domestically had failed, Chinese were forced to import them. The Emperor Wu (141-87 B.C.) brought a superior breed of horse from the Western Region to China in order to conquer nomadic Northern tribes. Thus, only members of the military forces, noble men, members of the emperor’s family and the emperor himself owned horses. Therefore, even in the after-life, a horse would symbolize power and high social status, it would be a celestial horse. Nonetheless, while the design of the statue and the rich history behind its production is fascinating, I doubt that I would ever want to see almost real-life horse statue at home.
To sum up, I would like to quote a renowned British writer and a paleontologist Richard Fortey, who so eloquently put the significance of museums: “I believe profoundly in the importance of museums; I would go as far as to say that you can judge a society by the quality of its museums”.