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"Ancient" toys, original jewelry, and a range of books are among the selections

October 28, 2005

LOS ANGELES—A wide range of unique gifts, inspired by the art collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, are now available in time for the holidays. These beautiful, educational, and functional items include scarves inspired by the work of a 19th-century female photographer, elegant jewelry inspired by ancient objects commissioned exclusively for the Getty, and fun children’s books from Getty Publications. Among the highlights are toys, sculptures, and other decorative gifts based on the Getty’s antiquities collection. These are being offered in anticipation of the upcoming opening of the Getty Villa in Malibu, a museum and study center dedicated to the arts and cultures of the ancient Mediterranean.

All items are available at the Museum store at the Getty Center in Los Angeles and by phone at 800-223-3431. Books can also be ordered online at

The young and the young at heart will delight in the Getty’s selection of “ancient” toys based on objects in the Museum’s antiquities collection. Wheeled play figures were popular even in antiquity, and were often made in the shape of animals.  The Museum store offers a resin reproduction of a horse on wheels ($35). Infants in ancient Greece often played with seed-filled rattles or drank from terracotta feeders in the shape of pigs. A charming 3”-tall pig rattle ($5), made of resin, is inspired by both rattle and feeder artifacts. Dolls in classical Greece and Rome were made with articulated limbs and were sometimes discovered with miniature jewelry and accessories. Replicas of these treasured play companions are available in 2 sizes: A small 3” doll ($6.95) and a 7” version that comes with a stand for display ($35). These items all come with educational cards. Also available is the Melisto doll ($24), a 10 ½”-high soft figure dressed in period clothing. She carries her own tiny doll and is accompanied by her pet cat, Calliope, whose name in Greek means “beautiful noise.” A mini-storybook describes her life as a little girl in the ancient world.

Two portraits of little girls from the Museum’s paintings collection—Jeanne Kefer by Fernand Khnopff and Maria Frederike van Reede-Athlone at Seven Years of Age by Jean-Etienne Liotard—are the basis for a pair of charming soft dolls ($19.95 each). Both dolls have clothing that can be removed and the Maria doll carries a little puppy in her arms, just like the girl in the portrait. Both have an imaginary story describing the experience of sitting for a portrait, offering kids today insight into the girls’ lives in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Getty’s antiquities collection is interpreted in jewelry by two innovative designers—Cynthia Gale and Jivita Harris-Casey—who based their creations on objects held at the Museum. Gale offers three collections. The Net-Pattern bowl collection ($65–$850) is inspired by a small silver bowl, studded with gems, that intermingles Greek-Hellenistic styles with those of the ancient Near East. The Amphora-Rhyton collection ($90–$145) is based on a rare ancient Roman silver vessel decorated with floral tendrils and rows of feathers. The Gilded Floral collection ($50–$150) uses Greek and Roman linear patterns and floral motifs that can be found on ancient vases, fabrics, and classical architecture and sculpture. These include the palmette and lotus designs that can be traced to ancient Egypt. Designer Harris-Casey offers a sterling silver collection ($65–$90) based on the snake, a recurring motif in ancient art and mythology that symbolizes female power, fertility, wisdom, rebirth, and rain.

Decorative objects include a statuette of a seated lion ($35) reproduced from an ancient Greek bronze figure in the Museum’s collection.  In antiquity, lions were seen as guardian beasts. This resin lion is about 7” tall and comes packaged with an educational card.

During the Roman Empire, pearls were often dedicated to Venus, the Roman goddess of love and desire. A beautiful reproduction of a diminutive head of Venus ($35) wearing a gold-and-pearl earring is inspired by a work in the Museum’s collection.

Another highlight is a series of leather gift boxes ($18–$30) in an assortment of rich colors. The lids of the boxes feature embossed designs inspired by architectural details and artwork at the Getty Villa in Malibu, which will open to the public early next year.

The Museum’s photographs collection is the inspiration for a series of botanical silk scarves ($30) and boxed cards ($14.95 for 18 note cards, three each of six designs) based on the work of Anna Atkins, a pioneering 19th-century photographer. Trained as a botanist, Atkins created hundreds of sun prints, called cyanotypes, of botanical specimens.

The Getty publishes high quality art books for scholars, general readers, and museum visitors. Two new children’s books—Pop-Up Aesop ($19.95) and Strong Stuff: Herakles and His Labors ($16.95)—introduce children to the ancient world in a fun and colorful way. For young students there is a pocket dictionary series on ancient Greek heroes and heroines, and Greek and Roman gods and goddesses ($9.95 each).

The romantic at heart will delight in Venus:  A Biography ($19.95), which traces the origins and history of the goddess of love and beauty, or sumptuously illustrated titles such as Luxury Arts of the Renaissance ($100), which explores gem-studded goldwork and richly embellished armor; splendid tapestries, embroideries, and textiles; and other opulent creations that were more celebrated than paintings, sculpture and architecture during the Renaissance. Another recent release is Classical Love Poetry ($19.95), filled with passionate Greek and Roman verses from Homer, Sappho, Virgil, Horace, and Ovid, among others, paired with examples of paintings, sculpture, vases, and decorative objects.

Colleagues, friends, and art enthusiasts might be interested in Seeing Venice ($14.95), which explores in detail Bernardo Bellotto's magnificent painting View of the Grand Canal, now held at the Getty; or Angels and Demons in Art ($24.95), in the Guide to Imagery series, which helps decode the symbolic meanings in the great masterworks of Western Art. Readers will learn about artists’ representations of heaven and hell and how angels and demons came to be portrayed with physical attributes such as wings, halos, horns, and cloven hooves.

Two new photography titles of note are Milton Rogovin:  The Mining Photographs ($60), which presents more than 100 of the photographer’s famously powerful images depicting coal miners around the world; and Roads to Rome ($50), a visual record of photographer John Heseltine’s journey along five of the ancient Roman roads of Italy: the Via Appia, which extended from Rome to the great port of Brindisi, thus linking the city with Asia; Via Cassia to Siena; Via Flaminia to Bologna; Via Aurelia to San Remo; and Via Aemelia from Parma to Rimini.

For the latest Getty Publications catalogue, please visit or call 800-223-3431.

Note to editors: photos available upon request.

Mike Winder
Getty Communications Department

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About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. 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 Malibu.

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