Los Angeles, April 2018
It’s slightly under an hour from Hollywood to John Paul Getty’s multi-pavilioned complex in the hills above Bel Air and Brentwood, but when you arrive, a whole array of art and artefact (some, it is fair to say, makes you wish, to paraphrase Paul Keating about David Roche, he could have put down his scatter-gun) is free. He only employed classicists but we fear, in his collecting, he may not have always consulted them.
Some of the eccentricity of Getty’s collecting can be seen in this sequence of busts; genuine Ptolemaic renderings of Alexander, c. 200BC and a priest or official, showing clear Greek influence, c. 100-30BC, and a Romanesque knock-off of Julius Caesar, seeming to us of dubious authenticity:
For a private collection however, it is pretty impressive. Here are a few more pieces from classical antiquity, including a later magical papyrus with various invocations, c. AD 200 – 250 (3rd image below), and a tablet showing Emperor Tiberius as a Pharaoh, kneeling (not necessarily a position unknown to him) before the Gods Mut and her son Khonsu
There is ample opportunity to take a break, catch the views, lunch, walk the gardens, and return to ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome. Shown below: a Roman relief and the sarcophagus of a high official…
Before one contemplates the one on whom J Paul seems to have modelled himself: