The J. Paul Getty Museum of Malibu, California, is situated on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains, just off the San Diego Freeway. He considered art to be an enlightening influence; his perspective led to the museum's inception.The Getty Museum, first built in 1971, presents Getty's collection of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present, against a backdrop of dramatic architecture, tranquil gardens, and breathtaking views of Los Angeles's environs — the Pacific Ocean, San Gabriel Mountains, and the city's vast street grid.Its goal is to make the collection attractive and meaningful to visitors by presenting and interpreting the holdings. The collections include European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts, and European and American photographs.The museum began its painting collections in the 1930s under the astute leadership of Getty himself. The wide-ranging collection showcases paintings from the North Italian Renaissance, Baroque painting from Italy and Flanders, 17th century Dutch, and 18th- and 19th-century French works.The Department of Photographs maintains nine collections and several other photographs acquired in 1984. Drawings by Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, and, more recently, a rare drawing by Michelangelo, add a certain awe to the museum.J. Paul Getty’s collections of European sculpture include glittering pieces from the Italian Renaissance, French, and British Neoclassical Era.The J. has burnished the museum's fame.The Getty Museum Trust created another cultural landmark when they opened the J. As an educational center and museum, the Getty Villa is dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome.Conservation is a fundamental responsibility of the J. Paul Getty Museum and an essential element of the Museum's mission.
*Earthenware having an opaque glaze of tin oxide, usually highly decorated.
The Getty Center, in Los Angeles, California, is a campus of the Getty Museum and other programs of the Getty Trust. The $1.3 billion Center opened to the public on December 16, 1997  and is well known for its architecture, gardens, and views overlooking Los Angeles. The Center sits atop a hill connected to a visitors' parking garage at the bottom of the hill by a three-car, cable-pulled hovertrain people mover. 
Located in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, the Center is one of two locations of the J. Paul Getty Museum and draws 1.8 million visitors annually. (The other location is the Getty Villa in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.) The Center branch of the Museum features pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts and photographs from the 1830s through present day from all over the world.   In addition, the Museum's collection at the Center includes outdoor sculpture displayed on terraces and in gardens and the large Central Garden designed by Robert Irwin. Among the artworks on display is the Vincent Van Gogh painting Irises.
Designed by architect Richard Meier, the campus also houses the Getty Research Institute (GRI), the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, and the J. Paul Getty Trust. The Center's design included special provisions to address concerns regarding earthquakes and fires.
The personal life of J. Paul Getty
This success led to attention, and this attention – particularly of the female kind – and Getty married a grand total of three times during the 1920s alone. His father, from whom his business success had sprung, was greatly distressed by his son’s philandering nature, and left him just a fraction of his $10 million fortune upon his death. Not that it mattered – Getty was a multimillionaire in his own right by then, eclipsing even his father.
However, just before his death in 1930, Getty’s father George was quoted as saying that his son’s recklessness, fickleness and obsession with money would ultimately lead to the destruction of the company that they had built together. Yet shrewd investment and business skill saw the younger Getty flourish. He weathered the financial storm of the Great Depression admirably, and acquired oil companies from Tidewater Oil to the Pacific Western Oil Corporation – growing and growing his business until it spanned not just America, but the globe.
Following graduation, Getty returned to the United States and began working as a wildcatter, buying and selling oil leases in Oklahoma. By 1916, Getty had made his first million dollars from a successful well, and he teamed with his father to incorporate the Getty Oil Company. With his new fortune, he briefly retired to a life of leisure in Los Angeles, before returning to the oil business in 1919.
Throughout the 1920s, Getty and his father continued to amass wealth through drilling and lease brokering. When George passed away in 1930, Getty received a $500,000 inheritance and became president of his father&aposs oil company, though his mother retained the controlling interest.
In his new position, Getty set out to restructure and expand the company into a self-sufficient business—one that did everything from drilling to refining to transporting and selling oil. He began buying and taking control of other companies, including Pacific Western Oil, Skelly Oil and Tidewater Oil.ਏollowing World War II, Getty also took a risk by investing millions in the "Neutral Zone" between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. His gamble paid off in 1953, when oil was struck and began to flow at a rate of 16 million barrels a year.
In 1957, Fortune magazine named Getty the richest man in the world. Ten years later, he consolidated his business interests into the Getty Oil Company, and by the mid-1970s, it was estimated he had built a personal fortune of $2 to $4 billion.
The Villa J. Paul Getty Built but Never Saw
Ironically, J. Paul Getty never saw the Getty Villa. He died two years after his museum opened to the public in January 1974 in a new building modeled on an ancient Roman luxury home. It was not until after Getty’s death in June 1976 that he returned from his estate in England to his “ranch” on the Pacific Coast: he is buried there at the edge of the property on a private plot overlooking the ocean, alongside his eldest and youngest sons, George and Timothy, both of whom predeceased him.
Following a renovation and reinstallation of the galleries, the Getty Villa opens a new chapter in its history. Although Getty never set eyes on his creation, the story of how he built the Villa and assembled his collection pervades the galleries even today. A suite of revamped rooms—Galleries 105 to 108—share this history. Featuring ancient works of art Getty bought himself along with archival documents, the new displays place the objects in their cultural contexts and shed light on Getty’s personal relationship to his museum and final resting place.
From a Ranch House to an Ancient Villa
Getty bought the 64-acre ranch—once part of the Rancho Boca de Santa Monica, an early-nineteenth-century 6,656-acre Mexican land grant—just after the end of World War II, intending it as a weekend retreat where his fifth wife Theodora (“Teddy”) could ride horses and he could display his growing art collection.
The Ranch House prior to renovation, between 1920 and 1945. The Getty Research Institute, Institutional Archives
He knew the area well, for he already owned a small house on the beach in nearby Santa Monica, just steps from the sprawling complex his friend and rival collector William Randolph Hearst had built for the actress Marion Davies. (The Davies estate is now the Annenberg Community Beach House, while Getty’s beach house has been replaced by a large modern condo complex, 270 Palisades Beach Road.)
After buying the property, Getty remodeled the low-slung “Ranch House,” adding a second story and several Spanish-style features. Although Getty left the United States permanently in 1951, leaving Teddy and their son Timmy behind, he continued to fill the Ranch House with works of art, and in 1954 it opened it to the public as the J. Paul Getty Museum.
Large antiquities gallery in the Getty Ranch House between 1957 and 1974. At the far end of the gallery stands the Lansdowne Hercules. The Getty Research Institute, Institutional Archives
Over time he added to the building to accommodate his growing collection, and by the late 1960s it needed to expand further. Getty’s architects drew up several proposals in a variety of styles—Spanish, European, and modern—all of which he rejected. Ultimately, he decided to construct a replica of the ancient Villa dei Papiri at Herculaeneum, which was buried in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79.
Ancient and Modern History Meet
Several newly reinstalled galleries on the first floor of the Getty Villa feature objects that speak to both their ancient and modern histories. Gallery 105, known as the Hall of Colored Marbles, is dominated by a marble statue of Venus. Getty readily admitted that he “enjoyed the company of women,” and when the Villa first opened in 1974 an entire gallery was devoted to images of the goddess of love.
When planning the new display we therefore decided that the first of two built-in vitrines in this gallery would focus on representations of Venus in various media: terracotta, marble, and bronze. The smallest object in the case, a finely worked bronze head of the goddess, once attached to a larger figure, is remarkable for the preservation of a golden earring with a single pearl. Pearls were highly prized in antiquity, as they are today, and fetched vast prices.
The largest object in the case, a terracotta group of a Woman Reclining on a Couch with Cupids, is still more intriguing. It is the first “antiquity” that Getty purchased. In 1939, when he was in Rome courting Teddy, who was studying to be an opera singer, he placed a number of absentee bids on items being sold from an aristocratic collection in London. He was particularly interested in the tapestries, but on the same page of the auction catalogue as some of the objects he most desired was the listing for this terracotta. It was associated with similar ones found at the Greek site of Tanagra in the late nineteenth century. These artworks were popular among collectors for the vivacity of their compositions and the insights they seemed to provide into daily life in the ancient world.
Statuette of a Woman Reclining on a Couch with Cupids, 1875–90, probably made in Greece. Terracotta, pigment, and gold, 7 5/16 × 10 5/8 × 4 5/16 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 78.AK.38. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program
Detail of J. Paul Getty’s personal copy of the Sotheby’s auction catalogue of items from Cam House, London. The Getty Research Institute
As with all his purchases, Getty was canny, seeking to get the best possible price. But his annotated auction catalogue, rediscovered in the collections of the Getty Research Institute library by former Getty Museum curatorial assistant Laure Marest-Caffey (now the Cornelius and Emily Vermeule Curator of Greek and Roman Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) reveals that Getty himself had doubts about its authenticity. In the margin beneath the entry he wrote, “modern?” The terracotta belonged to a venerable English collection, so Getty was willing to take a chance. His low bid of £10 prevailed, but his first antiquity turned out not to be an antiquity at all.
History on Display
This story and others about J. Paul Getty and the growth of his collections are told in an innovative display in Gallery 107. Building on the ongoing installation J. Paul Getty: Life and Legacy at the Getty Center, this interactive program, installed alongside some of Getty’s favorite ancient sculptures, allows visitors to explore hundreds of archival photographs, maps, graphs, and other resources relating to Getty’s family, business, travels, development of his collections, decision to build the Villa, and lasting legacy.
The Lansdowne Hercules, about A.D. 125, Roman. Marble, 76 3/16 × 30 1/2 × 28 3/4 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 70.AA.109. Pictured in the Temple of Hercules (Gallery 108).
Gallery 108, known as the Temple of Hercules, meanwhile appears much as it did before the reinstallation, but it now features improved lighting and a smaller seismic isolator underneath the famous statue of the Lansdowne Hercules. This change enables more of the splendid polychrome marble floor to show it’s a replica of one of the first finds by well-diggers who discovered the Villa dei Papiri in 1750. The ancient villa is itself the focus of a newly installed cubiculum just off the Atrium, Gallery 101C, and it will be the subject of an international loan exhibition in the summer of 2019.
While Getty never visited his Villa, his legacy continues to endure. From his architectural choices to the objects he collected, his twentieth-century history blends with that of ancient times, yielding stories that captivate us even today.
A Virtual Tour of the Getty Museum
“The Grand Canal in Venice from Palazzo Flangini to Campo San Marcuola” by Canaletto
“The Grand Canal in Venice from Palazzo Flangini to Campo San Marcuola” by Canaletto was painted in 1738.
This composition is called a veduta (Italian for “view”), meaning a highly detailed, usually large-scale painting of a cityscape or some other vista.
This vendute painting depicts the upper reaches of the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, near the entrance to the Cannaregio Canal. Venduta paintings were popular with the wealthy tourists to Venice in the mid-1700s.
“Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino” by J.M.W. Turner
“Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino” by J.M.W. Turner is a landscape vision of the unexcavated Roman Forum, still called the Campo Vaccino meaning “Cow Pasture,” shimmering in the hazy light.
Ten years after his final journey to Rome, Turner envisioned Rome from his memory. Churches and ancient monuments in and around the Roman Forum are dissolving in bright colors.
The light from the moon is rising on the left. The sun is setting behind the Capitoline Hill at the right.
“Irises” by Vincent van Gogh
“Irises” is one of several paintings of ‘Irises’ by Vincent van Gogh and one of a series of paintings he painted at the asylum in Saint-Rémy, France, in the last year before his death.
In 1889 after several episodes of self-mutilation and hospitalization, Van Gogh chose to enter an asylum. There, in the last year before his death, he created over 120 paintings.
Shortly after entering the asylum, Van Gogh started Irises, working from nature in the asylum’s garden. He called painting “the lightning conductor for my illness” because he felt that he could keep himself from going insane by continuing to paint.
“After the Bath, Woman Drying Her Back” by Edgar Degas
“After the Bath, Woman Drying Her Back” by Edgar Degas is a print of a female bather kneeling on a chair covered with towels as she arches her back over the backrest of the chair as if to pick something up with her right hand.
This print is part of a series of photographs, prints, drawings, preliminary sketches in pastels and oils by Degas from this period that depicts women during the bathing process.
Degas often used sketches and photography as a preliminary step to study the light and the composition for his paintings. This work is part of a series that depict women, as in this example, in awkward and unnatural positions.
Degas said he intended to create a feeling in the viewer “as if you looked through a keyhole.”
“Wheatstacks, Snow Effect, Morning” by Claude Monet
“Wheatstacks, Snow Effect, Morning” by Claude Monet is part of a series of stacks of harvested wheat. The series consists of twenty-five canvas, which Monet began near the end of the summer of 1890, and though Monet also produced earlier paintings using this same stack subject.
The impressionist series is famous for how Monet repeated the same theme to show the different light and atmosphere at different times of day, across the seasons, and in many types of weather.
Monet’s Haystacks series is one of his earliest to rely on repetition of a subject to illustrate a subtle difference in color perception across variations of times of day, seasons, and weather.
“Portrait of a Halberdier” by Pontormo
“Portrait of a Halberdier” by Pontormo depicts a young man standing before a fortress wall, holding a halberd.
A halberd is a two-handed pole weapon that came to prominent use during the 14th and 15th centuries, and troops that used the weapon were called halberdiers.
The identity of the person is not absolute however, Florentine records noted that during the siege of Florence in 1528, the artist, Pontormo painted a portrait of a young nobleman called Francesco Guardi as a soldier.
“Spring” by Édouard Manet
Spring by Édouard Manet depicts the Parisian actress Jeanne DeMarsy in a floral dress with parasol and bonnet against a background of lush foliage and blue sky, as the embodiment of Spring.
She is portrayed poised and looking straight ahead, a picture of detachment even though she seems fully aware of our gaze.
This painting was the first of a planned quartet of allegorical works using chic Parisian women to depict the four seasons. The idea was to produce a series of seasons personified by contemporary ideals of women, fashion, and beauty.
The series was never finished, and Manet died a year after completing only the second of the series, Autumn.
Greek Kouros (Getty Museum)
This Greek Kouros at the Getty Museum is an over-life-sized marble statue of a beardless naked youth in an advancing posture.
The modern term kouros (plural kouroi) is given to free-standing ancient Greek sculptures that first appear in the Archaic period in Ancient Greece and represent nude male youths. In Ancient Greek kouros means “youth, boy, especially of noble rank.”
Such statues are found across the Greek-speaking world. Most of this type have been found in the sanctuaries of Apollo.
“Spring” by Lawrence Alma-Tadema
“Spring” by Lawrence Alma-Tadema depicts the festival of Cerealia in a classical Roman marble terraced street. In ancient Roman religion, the Cerealia was the major festival celebrated for the grain goddess Ceres.
It was held for seven days from mid to late April, and this painting shows the procession of women and children descending marble stairs carrying and wearing brightly colored flowers.
Cheering spectators fill all the vantage points of the classical Roman buildings.
Tadema’s curiosity about the ancient world of Greece and Rome was insatiable, and his knowledge is incorporated into this painting through architectural details, dress, sculpture, and ornaments that are based on Roman originals.
“Portrait of a Man” by Paolo Veronese
“Portrait of a Man” by Paolo Veronese portrays a man leaning on the base of a structure with columns. In a niche between the columns is a marble sculpture of a draped figure, of which only the lower portion is visible.
The identity of this man is a mystery however, the clues in the painting may refer to the subject’s profession, perhaps that of a sculptor or architect.
“Euclid’ by Jusepe de Ribera
Euclid by Jusepe de Ribera, depicts the “father of geometry,” emerging from the shadows behind a table. Presented as a solemn scholar displaying his well-worn book with various geometric figures and Pseudo-Greek characters.
De Ribera focused his all skills to the man’s facial details, from the unkempt beard to creases of his forehead and the folds of the lids above his dark eyes.
Depicted as a man with tattered clothes and blackened, grimy fingers to emphasize Euclid’s devotion to the intellectual, rather than material, pursuits.
“Venus and Adonis” by Titian
“Venus and Adonis” by Titian depicts Venus trying to restrain her lover Adonis from going off to the hunt. His dogs strain at their leashes, echoing his impatience, as detailed in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
Cupid sleeps in the background, a symbol of Adonis’s resistance to Venus’s embrace. The story relates how one morning when Venus departs in her sky-borne chariot, Adonis’s hounds rouse a wild boar, which turns on him.
Venus hears Adonis’s groans, leaps from her chariot, and finds him dying. From her lover’s blood, she creates a fragile flower whose petals are scattered in the wind, named anemone’ windflower’ in Greek.
“Portrait of Marquise de Miramon” by James Tissot
“Portrait of Marquise de Miramon” by James Tissot depicts the Marquise wearing a rose-colored, ruffled peignoir. Around her neck are a black lace scarf and a silver cross.
Behind her is a fashionable Japanese screen depicting cranes on a gold background, and on the mantelpiece are several Japanese ceramics.
The Louis XVI stool and the terracotta bust suggests her aristocratic status. This painting was exhibited at the Paris World Fair. Thérèse Feuillant (1836 – 1912) inherited a fortune from her father, and in 1860 she married Réné de Cassagne de Beaufort, Marquis de Miramon.
“The Rue Mosnier Dressed with Flags” by Édouard Manet
“The Rue Mosnier Dressed with Flags” by Édouard Manet depicts a Parisian street, decorated with French flags for the first national holiday, which occurred on 30 June 1878. It was called the “Fête de la Paix,” or in English, “Celebration of Peace.”
The Rue Mosnier, which is now called the Rue de Berne, could be seen from Manet’s studio at 4 Rue de Saint-Pétersbourg. This canvas shows the view from his second-floor window, with tricolor flags hanging from the buildings along the road.
Manet captured the holiday afternoon in the top half of the composition with a patriotic harmony of the reds, whites, and blues of the French flag that waved along the street.
In the bottom half of the composition is a one-legged man on crutches, possibly a veteran wounded in the Franco-Prussian War. Also, at the bottom is a man carrying a ladder, and on the left is a fence holding back the rubble from building works.
The urban street was a subject of interest for Impressionist and Modernist painters. Manet reflected the transformation and growth of the Industrial Age and how it impacted society.
The Ancient Origins of the Flower Crown
The flower crown is today a fashionable accessory synonymous with Coachella revelers and boho brides, but it’s not new: wearing leaves and flowers as a headpiece has a rich history dating back to the ancient classical world.
Since antiquity, the circular or horseshoe shape of the wreath has been a symbol of glory, power, and eternity. In ancient Greece and Rome many crowns were made of wool and foliage such as myrtle and ivy leaves, and were adorned with different flowers, which held various associations through time.
Ancient gods and goddesses were often represented in art and literature wearing specific plants dedicated to them. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the beautiful nymph Daphne manages to escape her pursuer, the god Apollo, by turning herself into a laurel tree. Apollo cuts off a branch from the tree and exclaims, “Although you cannot be my wife, you shall at least be my tree I shall always wear you on my hair, on my quiver, O Laurel.” (557–559). He keeps his word, and as a result is often depicted wearing a laurel wreath as a symbol of his love for Daphne. Apollo is the god of poets and writers, and the term poet laureate that we use today comes from this myth.
White poplar leaves were associated with Hercules, who, according to tradition, imported the tree to Olympia from northwest Greece.
Hercules wearing a wreath. Statue of Hercules, A.D. 100–199, Roman. Marble with polychromy, 46 in. high. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 73.AA.43.1. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program
The ancient Greeks first introduced the crown as an honorary reward for victors in athletic, military, poetic, and musical contests. For example, the Pythian Games were held at Delphi every four years in honor of Apollo, and winners traditionally received a wreath of bay laurel. The bay laurel tree is native to the Mediterranean region, and it stood as an important symbol of victory, achievement, and status.
Olive wreaths were also awarded to winners of athletic competitions, like the nude young man shown below. Wild olive trees grew at Olympia where the Olympic games were held, and olive wreaths were given as prizes to victors at these games. He might have been a runner, wrestler, or weight lifter, who is crowning himself or removing the wreath to dedicate it to the gods as a sign of piety.
A young man crowning himself with an olive wreath. Statue of a Victorious Youth, 300–100 B.C., Greek, Bronze with inlaid copper nipples, 59 5/8 in. high. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 77.AB.30. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program
The symbolism of the laurel wreath survives to this day. It featured prominently on the medal design for the 2016 Rio Olympics, for example.
The ancient Romans continued the tradition of the crown as a reward for triumph. They dressed their leaders and military personnel in crowns made of laurel, oak, or myrtle. The grass crown or corona obsidionalis was the highest military honor, awarded by a besieged army to the general who liberated them. It was made of grass, weeds, and wildflowers gathered on the spot where the army had been attacked.
A profile of a man wearing a laurel wreath, which indicated that he was likely of high military rank. Cameo, 1700s–1800s, European. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 83.AL.257.15, Bequest of Eli Djeddah. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program
Flower crowns were also worn for festivities and celebrations, much like they are today they were customary at events such as sacrifices to Gods and feasts. In depictions of Greek men at symposia (aristocratic drinking parties) we often see figures wearing wreaths. They believed that tying a fillet tight around their heads could ease their drunkenness—though today’s festivals goers might disagree. These were originally made of wool but later decorated with flowers and petals from roses, violets, myrtle, and parsley.
Wine Cup with a Youth and a Man, 450–440 B.C., Attributed to the Euaion Painter. Terracotta, 15 9/16 in. diam. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 86.AE.682. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program
In Rome, the Floralia festival was held in honor of Flora, goddess of flowers, vegetation, and spring—so it’s no surprise that a headpiece made of flower petals and interwoven vines was the must-have accessory. In this representation of a statue of Flora, she is depicted holding her flower crown.
Farnese Flora statuette, 1871, William Chaffers. Woodburytype, 4 3/4 × 3 11/16 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 84.XB.9220.127.116.11. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program
In Europe this religious festival was later celebrated as the secular May Day. In Alma-Tadema’s painting Spring, the artist represents this celebration and the tradition of sending children out to pick flowers on the first day of May. A procession of women and children wear colorful floral crowns and carry baskets of flowers. Alma-Tadema was obsessed with the ancient world, and he even set this Victorian celebration in an imaginary ancient Rome.
A procession of women and children wearing brightly colored flower crowns. Spring, 1894, Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Oil on canvas, 70 1/4 × 31 5/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 72.PA.3. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program
Although the flower crown was popular in the ancient world, as Christianity spread it fell out of favor due to its association with pagan festivals. But it made a comeback in Renaissance art, as artists and scholars looked again to the classical past for inspiration.
In modern times we often see flower crowns used as a reminder of the ancient Mediterranean world. As just one example, German photographer Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden used the flower crowns in portraits he created of in Sicily, as a symbol of his subjects’ ancient heritage.
A boy wearing a lily wreath. Boy with Lillies, about 1890–1914, Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden. Toned gelatin silver print, 8 3/8 × 6 1/4 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 84.XM.631.12. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program
Even the bridal crown, it turns out, has ancient roots. The Roman bride would wear a crown made of verbena that she herself had picked. In modern times, Queen Victoria made the practice fashionable by wearing a crown of orange blossoms in her hair on her wedding day to prince Albert on February 10, 1840. It was also during the Victorian era that interest in “floriography” rose, with women often depicted wearing flowers to communicate a personal attribute. The orange blossom, for example, is a symbol of chastity.
Portrait of a Bride with Orange Blossoms, 1907 – 1943, Louis Fleckenstein. Gelatin silver print, 9 7/16 x 7 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 85.XM.28.275. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.
Today the trend of wearable fronds and flowers continues in a variety of ways—as a symbol of victory, celebration, love, romance, or femininity, whether you’re wearing a wreath to a festival or donning a digital version on Snapchat.
Want to try it for yourself?
Try it at home with these YouTube tutorials.
A few good sources for delving deeper into the historical roots of the flower crown:
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Follow The Sun
J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM ACQUIRES MAJOR 19 th -CENTURY LANDSCAPE PAINTING
BY ITALIAN ARTIST GIOVANNI SEGANTINI
The lush mountain scene was commissioned for American collector Jacob Stern
and was on public view in San Francisco for more than 70 years
Spring in the Alps, 1897
By Giovanni Segantini
On view at the Getty Museum, Getty Center, Los Angeles beginning February 12
LOS ANGELES – The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today the acquisition of Spring in the Alps, 1897, by Giovanni Segantini (Italian, 1858-1899). Originally painted for Jacob Stern, a San Francisco collector and director of Levi Strauss & Co, the painting has a long connection to California. It was on continuous loan to Legion of Honor in San Francisco from 1928 until it was sold by Stern’s descendants in 1999.
“Giovanni Segantini was at the peak of his career when he created this luminous panoramic scene,” said Timothy Potts, director of the Getty Museum. “Featuring his characteristic thick brushstrokes and brilliant color palette—which includes flecks of gold leaf—the painting is among the most extraordinary and captivating landscapes produced in Europe at the end of the 19th century. It will resonate powerfully alongside our great Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works from France and paintings by northern European artists of the era. Significantly, with this acquisition, Spring in the Alps finds a permanent public home in California, its original destination, and we hope museum-goers from San Francisco, where it was on view for more than 70 years, will visit the painting at the Getty when they are in Los Angeles.”
At more than four by seven feet, Spring in the Alps is a monumental, sweeping depiction of an alpine landscape near the village of Soglio in Switzerland, with its recognizable church tower visible on the right side of the picture. The view is of an expansive plateau and valley ringed by glaciers and majestic snow-capped mountains. In the middle of the composition a farm woman dressed in a blue and red peasant costume characteristic of eastern Switzerland leads two large horses past a watering trough. They are coming from a freshly plowed field where a sower scatters seeds and a black and white dog stands guard. The scene is sunny and colorful, emphasizing a glorious vista with a brilliant blue sky and ribbons of clouds.
Segantini painted the sizeable canvas in the open air, with additional work completed in the studio. He took liberties with the topography to suit his composition, adjusting the relative scale of the mountains, the perspective of the valley, and the position of the town. He created the vibrant color scheme and brilliant effects of light following the principles of Divisionism, the practice of juxtaposing pure local colors in the belief that the hues mix optically in the eye of the viewer, creating especially luminous effects. This pseudo-scientific movement in painting was first launched in France in the 1880s by George Seurat and Paul Signac, where it was dubbed “Neo-Impressionism.” The movement was subsequently adopted by Italian painters, with Segantini becoming a principal exponent. In contrast to Seurat’s pointillist brushstrokes, Segantini employed long, thin strokes of contrasting color. The rich impasto and the tactile, almost woven, quality of the painted surface, marvelously capture the crisp transparency of the atmosphere, the harshness of the rocks, the thickness of the grass, and the roughness of the skin of the animals.
“Spring in the Alps is a joyous hymn to the cycle of life and the reawakening of nature in spring after a long, hard winter,” said Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty. “It is an extraordinarily accomplished work where symbolism and naturalism are inextricably intertwined. Segantini himself counted it among his absolute masterpieces. Panoramic in scale and astonishingly luminous, Spring in the Alps is one of the greatest paintings of the Italian Ottocento in America, an iconic work that expands our ability to tell the story of 19th-century European painting.”
Spring in the Alps was commissioned by the American painter Toby E. Rosenthal (1848-1917), who resided in Munich, for San Francisco businessman and collector Jacob Stern (1851-1927), whose father, David Stern, co-founded Levi Strauss & Co. Segantini exhibited the picture at the 7th Munich Secession in 1897 and then took the painting back to his studio in Switzerland where he made further adjustments. In early 1899 the picture was sent to San Francisco to be the centerpiece of Stern’s collection. It was so well known even then, that the painting’s rescue from the 1906 earthquake and fire was reported in the national press. Upon Stern’s death in 1927, and in accordance with his wishes, Spring in the Alps was loaned by his heirs to the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. There it stayed on public view for more than 70 years. In 1999 the estate of Stern’s heir sold the picture at auction in New York.
Born in Arco (Trento) in 1858, Giovanni Segantini counts among the most important Italian artists of his generation. He was internationally famous for his dreamy Alpine landscapes, which combine elements of Jean-François Millet’s reverent naturalism with Georges Seurat’s dappled Divisionist technique and the allegorical subjectivity of the work of contemporary Symbolists, from Gustav Klimt to Paul Gauguin. Segantini&rsquos work represents the transition from traditional nineteenth-century art to the changing styles and interests of the twentieth century.
Orphaned as a boy, Segantini was apprenticed to a photographer in Milan, where in 1873 he began attending night classes at the Brera’s Academy of Fine Arts. In the early 1880s, on the advice of the painter-dealer Vittore Grubicy de Dragon, he experimented with plein-air painting during an extended visit to the Brianza region. Marketed by Grubicy, with whom Segantini signed an exclusive contract in 1883, the resulting landscapes attracted international attention and quickly made their author’s fortune. Segantini settled in the picturesque Swiss valley of the Engadine, where he painted views of the surrounding mountains for the rest of his career, often carting his enormous canvases out into the elements to work directly from nature. Despite his somewhat remote location, Segantini kept abreast of the contemporary art scene, maintaining a lively correspondence with Gustav Klimt, Max Liebermann, and others, while his work was exhibited in London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Munich.
In 1897, Segantini was commissioned by a group of local hotels to build a huge panorama of the Engadin valley to be shown in a specially built round hall at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Before it was completed, however, the project had to be scaled down for financial reasons. Segantini redesigned the concept into a large triptych known as Life, Nature, and Death (Museo Segantini, St. Moritz), which is now his most famous work. Eager to finish the third part of his large triptych, Nature, Segantini returned in 1899 to the mountains near Schafberg. The pace of his work, coupled with the high altitude, affected his health, and in mid-September he became ill with acute peritonitis. Two weeks later he died at the age of 41. Two years later the largest Segantini retrospective to date took place in Vienna. In 1908, the Museo Segantini was established in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Spring in the Alps joins another important work by Segantini in the Getty Museum’s collection, Study for “La Vita” (1897), a large pastel that parallels the painting’s composition and is dedicated to his friend Toby Rosenthal, who facilitated the commission of Spring in the Alps from Jacob Stern. In excellent condition, Spring in the Alps comes to the Getty in the elaborate frame that the artist originally designed for it. It will be put on exhibition in the Museum’s West Pavilion on February 12th, alongside other works of art from 19th century Europe.
The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.
The J. Paul Getty Museum collects Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts to 1900, as well as photographs from around the world to the present day. The Museum’s mission is to display and interpret its collections, and present important loan exhibitions and publications for the enjoyment and education of visitors locally and internationally. This is supported by an active program of research, conservation, and public programs that seek to deepen our knowledge of and connection to works of art.
The Thrill of the Chase: The Wagstaff Collection of Photographs will be exhibited Alongside Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium
LOS ANGELES – From 1973 to 1984, Samuel J. Wagstaff Jr. (American, 1921-1987) assembled one of the most important private collections of photographs in the world. With more than 26,000 objects, the collection spans the experimental beginnings of photography in the nineteenth-century to the works of artists active in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1984 Wagstaff sold his collection to the J. Paul Getty Museum, and thirty-two years later it remains the Museum’s single largest holding of art from one source. The Thrill of the Chase: The Wagstaff Collection of Photographs, on view March 15-July 31, 2016 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, features a selection of works from Wagstaff’s collection, offering a look at how his broad and idiosyncratic tastes helped to expand the photographic canon.
“The acquisition of Samuel Wagstaff’s collection of photographs in 1984 was a landmark event in the Museum’s short history,” explains Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “In one move, the Getty became the custodian of one of the most important private collections of photographs in the world, thus setting the stage for the Museum to become, as it since has, one of the preeminent public photographic collections of the world. Wagstaff’s eye for quality and voracious appetite for collecting, ranging from Fox Talbot, Nadar and Man Ray to Lange, Arbus and Hujar, set him apart from his peers and fueled his reputation as a connoisseur and taste-maker in photography as a art form—a status that was still not yet universally acknowledged. This exhibition is the first to give Wagstaff’s critical role in photographic history its due."
Mrs. Herbert Duckworth, 1867. Julia Margaret Cameron (British, born India, 1815 - 1879). Albumen silver print. 34 x 24.9 cm (13 3/8 x 9 13/16 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
Born into a socially prominent New York City family, Wagstaff attended Yale University and the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University before working as a curator at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, and the Detroit Institute of the Arts. While he was a champion of contemporary art and organized numerous innovative exhibitions, it was not until he met the artist Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) that he developed an interest in collecting photographs. The two met in 1972 and became lovers, with Wagstaff supporting Mapplethorpe’s fledging career and Mapplethorpe helping Wagstaff understand the value of photography as art. Within a few short years, Wagstaff became a preeminent collector in a still young market.
Wagstaff promoted photography as an art form by exhibiting, publishing, and lecturing on his collection. In 1978 he organized the exhibition Photographs from the Collection of Sam Wagstaff, which opened at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. before beginning a seventeen-venue tour. His reputation as an arbiter of taste provided an impetus for museums to collect photographs and for scholars to devote their studies to photography.
“In addition to frequenting auctions in New York, London, and Paris, Wagstaff would often troll secondhand shops and flea markets during his travels, and come back with shopping bags full of prints,” says Paul Martineau, associate curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum and curator of the exhibition. “Wagstaff had a knack for discovering photographs by unknown makers that were deserving of attention and was bold enough to hang these works next to those by the established masters.” The Wagstaff Collection is known for its quality and breadth, and the exhibition will include photographs by the medium’s pioneers, including William Henry Fox Talbot, Hill & Adamson, Gustave Le Gray, Nadar, and Julia Margaret Cameron. Wagstaff also had an eye for early twentieth-century photography, purchasing prints by Adolf de Meyer, Edward Steichen, Man Ray, August Sander, Edward Weston, and Dorothea Lange. Contemporary photographs are represented in the collection with works by William Eggleston, Diane Arbus, William Garnett, Larry Clark, Jo Ann Callis, and Peter Hujar.
After Wagstaff sold his collection of photographs to the Getty Museum in 1984, he turned to nineteenth-century American silver, and quickly amassed one of the finest collections in the field. On view in the exhibition is a Gorham sterling ice bowl and spoon fashioned in the shape of blocks of ice with cast icicles and polar bear handles. Wagstaff pestered Mapplethorpe to photograph the ice bowl, so it could be reproduced in a catalogue for an exhibition of Wagstaff’s collection of silver at the New York Historical society (that photograph is on view in Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium). Sadly, the catalogue was never published and Wagstaff died from AIDS-related complications, just two months before the exhibition opened.
“The story of Wagstaff’s late-in-life interest in silver underscores the core values that made him successful as a collector of photographs,” adds Martineau. “He began with a medium that he thought was remarkable and undervalued, and put all of his resources into building a world-class collection.”
The Thrill of the Chase: The Wagstaff Collection of Photographs is on view March 15-July 31, 2016 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center. The exhibition is curated by Paul Martineau, associate curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. The exhibition will be displayed in galleries adjacent to Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium, also on view March 15-July 31, 2015 at the Getty and March 20-July 31, 2015 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The Wagstaff exhibition will then travel to the Wadsworth Atheneum September 10-December 11, 2016 and the Portland Art Museum in Maine February 1-April 30, 2017.
The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.
The J. Paul Getty Museum collects Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts to 1900, as well as photographs from around the world to the present day. The Museum&rsquos mission is to display and interpret its collections, and present important loan exhibitions and publications for the enjoyment and education of visitors locally and internationally. This is supported by an active program of research, conservation, and public programs that seek to deepen our knowledge of and connection to works of art.