Designed to fill a real need are the now Classical Rooms recently opened at the Fogg Museum. Previously the classical works of art were jumbled together without much rhyme or reason. Now everything is in order, which increases enjoyment of the pieces tremendously.
The Greek sculpture is given a place apart and is so well spaced that no piece seems to interfere with another. Grouped in an adjoining room are the Egyptian sculpture and minor arts.
With wall coverings of quiet color and a restful lighting a more natural setting than that of the usual museum gallery has been achieved. Most important of all, however, is the fact that the arrangement, and at times the choice, of the exhibits has been planned not so much for study as for enjoyment. Such principles are all in line with recent tendencies in the presentation of paintings or of decorative subjects, but their application to a long-established classical collection in something of a departure.
The material in the New Classical Rooms is of outstanding quality. In the place of greatest advantage amongst the Greek works is the Meleager, in the style of Scopas and a copy after the great fourth century master. Opposite stands the Aphrodite, smaller and in the softer style of the second and third centuries.
On one wall are two smaller statues, a torso and a so-called Narcissus, and two fine fragments showing a battle of Greeks and Amazons from a Roman sarcophagus of the third century A. D. In the remaining spaces are grouped several Attic grave reliefs and a number of heads, notably a wrestler, a Grecian matron, and a woman of Palmyra. Against the window is an urn, a third century lekythos.
In the adjoining room are a selection of Greek vases, mainly from the Hoppin Collection. Outstanding is the great amphora that was a Panathenaic prize. Across the room are decorative arts from Mediterranean lands. Terra cotta figurines from Tanagra, phials of Roman glass, and Tuscan gold earrings are preeminent in this group.
The art of Egypt is suggested by two tomb reliefs in painted limestone and a 12th century dynasty head in red granite. Graeco Roman painting is well shown by three portraits of the second and third centuries from the Fayoum in North Africa