Assyrian Reliefs

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway

These twelve massive carved alabaster panels, on view together for the first time, dominate the walls of the Brooklyn Museum's Hagop Kevorkian Gallery of Ancient Middle Eastern Art. Originally brightly painted, they once adorned the vast palace of Ki... more

These twelve massive carved alabaster panels, on view together for the first time, dominate the walls of the Brooklyn Museum's Hagop Kevorkian Gallery of Ancient Middle Eastern Art. Originally brightly painted, they once adorned the vast palace of King Ashur-nasir-pal II (883–859 B.C.), one of the greatest rulers of ancient Assyria. Completed in 879 B.C. at the site of Kalhu (modern Nimrud, slightly north of what is now Baghdad, Iraq), the palace was decorated by skilled relief-carvers with these majestic images of kings, divinities, magical beings, and sacred trees. How the Reliefs Came to Brooklyn In 879 B.C., King Ashur-nasir-pal II celebrated the completion of his palace at Kalhu by hosting a banquet for 69,574 guests, but the glorious palace was soon abandoned and forgotten. In 1840, nearly three thousand years later, a young English diplomat named Austen Henry Layard noticed an unusually large mound while rafting down the Tigris River. He returned in 1845 to unearth the remains of the palace, sending his discoveries to the British Museum in London. He sent so many monumental sculptures and relief-decorated slabs that the museum sold some of them, including these twelve ... more

These twelve massive carved alabaster panels, on view together for the first time, dominate the walls of the Brooklyn Museum's Hagop Kevorkian Gallery of Ancient Middle Eastern Art. Originally brightly painted, they once adorned the vast palace of King Ashur-nasir-pal II (883–859 B.C.), one of the greatest rulers of ancient Assyria. Completed in 879 B.C. at the site of Kalhu (modern Nimrud, slightly north of what is now Baghdad, Iraq), the palace was decorated by skilled relief-carvers with these majestic images of kings, divinities, magical beings, and sacred trees.

How the Reliefs Came to Brooklyn

In 879 B.C., King Ashur-nasir-pal II celebrated the completion of his palace at Kalhu by hosting a banquet for 69,574 guests, but the glorious palace was soon abandoned and forgotten. In 1840, nearly three thousand years later, a young English diplomat named Austen Henry Layard noticed an unusually large mound while rafting down the Tigris River. He returned in 1845 to unearth the remains of the palace, sending his discoveries to the British Museum in London. He sent so many monumental sculptures and relief-decorated slabs that the museum sold some of them, including these twelve reliefs. In 1855, the expatriate American Henry Stevens purchased the reliefs and shipped them to Boston. Unable to raise funds for the reliefs there, he sold them to James Lenox for the New-York Historical Society. In 1937, the Society lent them to the Brooklyn Museum and in 1955, Hagop Kevorkian, the New York collector and dealer, donated the funds to purchase and install the reliefs in the renamed Hagop Kevorkian Gallery of Ancient Middle Eastern Art at the Brooklyn Museum.

Other objects in the Brooklyn Museum's Ancient Near Eastern collection include works made by the Sumerians, Assyrians, Achaemenid Persians, Sabeans, and others. Art from this region served several purposes. Some objects, like the twelve reliefs installed along the walls of the Kevorkian gallery, were meant to impress and overpower viewers. Figures of gods, in both human and animal form, were worshiped in temples. A few objects, especially small animal sculptures, seem to have been made simply to be enjoyed and appreciated. Though each culture had its own artistic tradition, they frequently borrowed themes and styles from one another. Certain subjects became standard throughout the Near East and were repeated for centuries. For more than four thousand years, artists living in what are now Iran, Iraq, and Turkey fashioned images of supernatural beings combining human and animal characteristics, for example.


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Assyrian Reliefs

Thu, October 21
10:00AM
$
Fri, October 22
10:00AM
$
Sat, October 23
11:00AM
$
Sun, October 24
11:00AM
$
Wed, October 27
10:00AM
$
Thu, October 28
10:00AM
$
Fri, October 29
10:00AM
$
Sat, October 30
11:00AM
$
Occurs 48 more times through Jan 08

Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(718) 638-5000

Schedule

October 21, Thursday 10:00AM
October 22, Friday 10:00AM
October 23, Saturday 11:00AM
October 24, Sunday 11:00AM
See complete schedule

Category

Arts

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