In celebration of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery's twenty-fifth anniversary, the Freer and Sackler's extraordinary collection of luxury metalwork from ancient Iran goes on view in the connecting galleries between the two museums. The exhibition opens February 4, 2012 at Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Considered one of the largest and finest holdings of its kind, the collection comprises works dating from the first millennium BCE, beginning with the rule of the Achaemenid kings (550–330 BCE), to the early Islamic period. The installation explores the meaning behind these objects' overarching artistic and technical characteristics.

Ancient Iranian metalwork was created in an area extending from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea to present-day Afghanistan. Favored with an abundance of natural resources, the region became known for its highly sophisticated metalworking, especially in gold and silver. Works ranging in shape from deep bowls and footed plates to elaborate drinking vessels ending in animal forms, which served as drinking horns, are largely associated with court ceremonies and rituals. Others, decorated with such royal imagery as hunting or enthronement scenes, were probably intended as gifts to foreign and local dignitaries. Depictions of kings and their royal attributes and pastimes helped define the power and identity of ancient Iranian royalty, whose rule continued well after the arrival of Islam in the seventh century.

Image above: Hemispherical bowl, Iran or Afghanistan, Sasanian period, 7th–8th century, Silver and gilt, H x W x D: 5.7 x 14.3 x 14.3 cm, Gift of Arthur M. Sackler, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, S1987.105, Image: Courtesy of Freer Gallery and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery / The Smithsonian's Museums of Asian Art

PlateEwer, Iraq or Iran, Buyid period, third quarter 10th century, Gold sheet, raised, with repoussé and engraving, H x Diam: 16 x 9.4 cm, Purchase, Freer Gallery of Art, F1943.1, Image: Courtesy of Freer Gallery and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery / The Smithsonian's Museums of Asian Art

Plate, Iran 309-379 CEPlate, Iran, Sasanian period, Reign of Shapur II (309-379 C.E.), 4th century, Silver and gilt, H x Diam: 5 x 24 cm, Purchase, Freer Gallery of Art, F1934.23, Image: Courtesy of Freer Gallery and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery / The Smithsonian's Museums of Asian Art

Ewer with female figuresEwer with female figures, Iran, Sasanian period, 6th–7th century, Silver and gilt, H x W x D: 35.5 x 16.9 x 14 cm, Gift of Arthur M. Sackler, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, S1987.117, Image: Courtesy of Freer Gallery and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery / The Smithsonian's Museums of Asian Art


Comments
  • Sayerice
    Apr 13, 2012 - 19:26:30

    Wow, what a beautiful art collection. Its priceless.

Add a comment
(to add comment, please )