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Mythical Landscapes in Art are Explored at the Getty

Landscapes of Myth
Getty Research Institute
November 5, 2002-February 2, 2003

October 25, 2002

Los Angeles—The Getty Research Institute presents Landscapes of Myth from November 5, 2002 – February 2, 2003, exploring artists’ interpretations of legendary settings in Greek mythology.  The exhibition draws on 15th to 19th -century works of art from the collections of the Research Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum. It brings together paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, and maps to link familiar stories of classical deities and mortals with lesser known images of the sites where these mythic tales  took place, including Athens, Sparta, Delphi, and Mycenae.

The exhibition includes several recent acquisitions by the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute, including Dimitris Constantine’s (Greek, active 1858–1860s) photograph The Greek Countryside; Richard Temple’s (British, 18th–19th century) View of the Acropolis and the Parthenon, illustrating an account of Lord Byron’s first trip to Greece; and a sketchbook attributed to the 18th -century French neoclassical painter Antoine Laurent Castellan.

"Idealized landscapes function as metaphors for history, geography and values, injecting the imaginative qualities of narrative into the observation and representation of nature," said Claire Lyons, exhibition curator at the Getty Research Institute. 

Mythologized landscapes combine visual qualities of nature and narrative to help the viewer experience the story. In the anonymous 16th -century Flemish Landscape with Orpheus, as Orpheus charms the beasts with his music, the territory behind opens into a sweeping panorama. From the civilized world of music and cultivation in the foreground, the viewer’s eye travels to an ancient land of ruins, and beyond to uninhabited realms. Another exhibition highlight, Imaginary Landscape with Colonnades by the 19th-century British architect Joseph Michael Gandy, depicts a meandering river, its banks lined by classical, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian porticoes and shrines. In this landscape of myth, human religious expressions and natural creations coexist in serene equilibrium.


Bringing together a library, special collections, and a photo study collection, the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute contains materials relevant to the history of art, architecture, world cultures, and disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. The collections are strongest in the history of Western art; however, in recent years the Research Library has expanded its reach to include areas that have had significant cultural contact and exchange with Europe, such as North and South America, Asia, and the Islamic world.

The Research Library's special collections include rare books, artists' journals, sketchbooks, architectural drawings and models, photographs, and archival materials. The Research Institute is one of the largest art and architecture libraries in the world, containing 800,000 volumes, including general collections of books, serials, and auction catalogues encompassing the history of Western art and related fields in the humanities.

The J. Paul Getty Museum collects in seven distinct areas: Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture, decorative arts, and European and American photographs. The Museum's goal is to make the collection meaningful and attractive to a broad audience by presenting and interpreting the collection through educational programs, special exhibitions, publications, conservation, and research.

Note to Editors: images available upon request.
For more information, call 310-440-7300 or visit

The Getty Research Institute is an operating program of the J. Paul Getty Trust.  Its goals are to promote innovative scholarship in the arts and humanities, to bridge traditional academic boundaries, and to provide a unique environment for research, critical inquiry, and debate.  The Research Library—accessible to both on-site and remote users—supports scholars and researchers around the world.

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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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