- First, the ship represents these vessel's lifetime as transport containers schlepped to and fro around the Mediterranean. And what's more, the painting communicates the amphorae's function to the visitor instantaneously. Jackpot!
- Second, the painting reproduces an actual ancient painting of a boat — one that decorated a clay pot, no less. While the mis-en-abîme could make your head spin, the sheer appropriateness of the image is genius.
- Third, the painting enlivens the gallery on a visceral level with its arcing lines, active figures, and rippling contours that preserve the hand-drawn vivacity of the original ancient painting.
This beauty of a display is in the Harvard Semitic Museum. Never before had I seen such creative use of a single color of paint applied to a wall to enhance an array of objects. The objects in question are ancient amphorae, perfect for a wall-mounted display because they are large — taking up a good amount of the large vertical space — and tough, requiring no special climate control or protective glass case. Taking the extra step to paint them into an ancient ship is a truly inspired move that works on several levels:
Ideas on Display
A humble space to reflect on concepts of museum display as enacted across a wide range of subjects, countries, and approaches.