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Hidden Marvels of the Louvre Museum: Part 3 - Phoenicia and the Levant with Dr. Guillaume Durand

Hidden Marvels of the Louvre Museum: Part 3 - Phoenicia and the Levant with Dr. Guillaume Durand


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The iconic museum of Paris, the Louvre, is especially known for its master painters such as Da Vinci, Raphael, David, Delacroix, or Géricault, as well as some ancient sculptures like the Venus of Milo or the Victory of Samothrace. Apart from these masterpieces which attract millions of tourists every year, this maze-like museum conceals stunning marvels from Antiquity and the Medieval period in its less crowded wings and rooms.

In this five-part series, featuring stand-alone but complementary lectures, join archaeologist and art historian Guillaume Durand in the discovery of these hidden marvels. Each lecture will put into historical context the artistic culture(s) covered as well as the evolution of the collection since the opening of this 12th century palace as a public gallery in 1793. Participants will come away with a thoughtful and refined understanding of Ancient and Early Medieval art in Europe and around the Mediterranean with the eye of a connoisseur.

Part 3 – Phoenicia and the Levant
Among the 100,000 objects in the Oriental Antiquities collection, the Angoulême gallery presents works from the Levant; that is to say from present-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and Cyprus. Some of these works date back to 7000 BCE. They are among the oldest in the museum's collections. Mostly discovered during French archaeological campaigns, they bear witness to the artistic refinement of this zone of exchange between the Mediterranean and Asia where multiple influences intersect. This crossroads between Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and the Aegean world saw the development of prosperous cities like Byblos, Sidon, and Ugarit. The statues, steles, and mythological texts evoke the religious world of these kingdoms whose memory the Bible has transmitted to us. Ivory boxes, gold cups, and jewelry reveal the richness and artistic abundance. 

Among the masterpieces gathered in this collection, we will pay special attention to those created by the Phoenicians, a people of maritime traders and merchants. They were at the core of the original symbiosis between the Egyptian and the Greek artistic traditions displayed in golden artefacts such as the Pectoral imitating an Egyptian necklace or sarcophagi like the one of the king Sidon Eshmunazar II. In this region of cultural crossroads, the Louvre also owns a vast collection of funerary portraits from Palmyra (Syria, Roman era), a now largely-destroyed archaeological site since the attacks of ISIS, which we will study in depth.

Passionate about the regions and countries at the crossroad of civilizations, Guillaume Durand, Ph.D. has long-standing expertise in Ancient art and archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean Basin. Assistant dean and professor in archaeology and art history at the Institute for American Universities and the American College of the Mediterranean in Aix-en-Provence, France, Guillaume has traveled many times in Iran during these six past years in order to study the Persian Empires. He is also a tourist guide and lecturer in this country for French citizens.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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