What a sumptuous start to our first 3 day trip across Souther part of England, in beautiful Ashmolean Museum first opened in 1683, housing treasures of the greatest civilisations across time.
Ashmolean Museum is the first university museum, which was established after donation by Elias Ashmole of his cabinet of curiosities mostly including antique coins, books, engravings, geological specimens, and zoological specimens.
Its front, classical style building was designed Charles Cockerell and finished in 1845.
The museum now houses prominent collection of artefacts from greatest ancient civilisations such as Greek and Roman, Egypt, Nubia, Iran and Babylon, Persia, Aegean, or Cycladic civilisations, grouped together. In the upper levels, the collection is themed by European cultural aspects such as violin making, tapestry or ceramics (Delftware, Majolica). Art collection includes modern masters such as Turner, Picasso, Cezanne or Pissarro.
Its main ethos is to educate the public, however some efforts to innovate is evident with the interesting open room close to the entrance showing objects together, across different cultures and time, with a piece by Barbara Hepworth introducing the ensemble.
Although the collections and exhibition were rather classical and conservative, it was done especially well, with the sheer number of great quality artefacts almost mesmerising.
I particularly enjoyed the display of Lekythoi, with may examples of decorations and narratives, with good explanation of its ritualistic purposes and the stories illustrated. As well as method of production, and it’s construction with a broken example revealing its interior.
Musical instruments and tapestries, not normally seen displayed together, enrich each-other’s narrative and history.
One of the more modern collection I found was English Delftware from 18th century.
Commemorative plates mostly showing royalty in rather naive and simple style, with it’s stylistically disproportioned faces and bodies makes you laugh.
They depict a very messy and complicated royal relationships, which could explain it’s fast approach to decorating?
They make me happy because I feel I couldn’t paint with majolica any better and more realistic. I would like to try and quickly create and illustrate narratives on plate like this. I feel such style would just give more humour, lightness and expression to ideas and stories.