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Rumble Fund Lecture in Classical Art 2020 by Salvatore Settis

Strand Campus , London

25 Mar
image of a marble statue depicting a woman's body
Image: Marble statue of ‘Penelope’ from Persepolis (fifth century BC), National Museum of Iran: © Shahrokh Razmjou, University of Tehran

Prof. Salvatore Settis (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa)

A Greek Lady from Persepolis: A statue of Penelope and her Roman sisters

In 1936 a fragmentary statue – a fifth-century BC Greek original, made in marble – was found during American excavations at the Royal Palace of Persepolis. The statue must come from an (unidentified) Greek city: initially, it was considered plunder from some Persian invasion or occupation; more recent research suggests it may have been a diplomatic gift to the Great King. The sculpture has been correctly identified as Penelope, and it compares closely with six Roman copies of the same subject (all of them found in Rome). The quandary, though, is that the Persepolis statue was buried when Alexander the Great burnt down the palace in 336 BC: so how is it possible that copies of it were made in Rome just a few centuries later? The intriguing biography of this Greek lady from Persepolis poses radical questions across the fields of art history, classics and archaeology: about original and copy, about Greek and Persian cultural interactions, about word and image, and not least about style and meaning.

This is an open lecture and all are warmly invited. The lecture will be followed by a complimentary drinks reception, hosted by the Department of Classics at King’s College London. Although attendance is complimentary, places are limited and pre-registration is essential: booking will be available via Eventbrite from December 2019.

Prof. Salvatore Settis has been Director of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles (1994–1999) and of the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa (1999–2010). He currently chairs the Scientific Council of the Musée du Louvre. Among his works in English are Giorgione's Tempest. Interpreting the Hidden Subject (Cambridge, 1990), The Future of the ‘Classical’ (Oxford, 2006); The Classical Tradition (edited with A. Grafton and G. W. Most: Cambridge MA, 2010); and If Venice Dies (New York, 2016). In 2015 he co-curated the landmark exhibition on Serial/Portable Classic in Milan and Venice, working with the Fondazione Prada; he also co-edited the catalogue of the show (with A. Anguissola and D. Gasparotto: Milan, 2015).


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