July 29, 2013
The Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority are honored and thrilled to tell you that Entre terre et mer: L'extraordinaire bestiaire de la mosaïque romaine de Lod, an exhibition of the spectacular 3rd century CE Lod Mosaic, is now on display in the grand cour du Sphinx in the Roman wing of the Louvre Museum. This exhibition of the Israel Antiquities Authority's Lod Mosaic masterpiece is a cause for excitement and pride, providing us with a wonderful opportunity to share the treasures and the archaeological heritage of the Land of Israel with the visitors to the Louvre and to foster cultural relations between Israel and France.
This famous Roman period mosaic, the largest, most beautiful and best preserved of all the mosaics in Israel, recently finished a tour of five museums in the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, the Field Museum in Chicago, the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio, and the University of Pennsylvania Archaeology Museum. The mosaic was seen by some 700,000 visitors during its U.S. tour. With nearly 10 million visitors in 2012, the Louvre is expecting hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world to see the spectacular Lod Mosaic this summer in its galleries.
The Louvre Exhibition
A festive opening ceremony in the Pavillion Mollien hosted by the Louvre's President and Director Jean-Luc Martinez and the Israeli Ambassador to Paris Yossi Gal, and attended by members of the Paris Jewish community, donors to the exhibition and a group of friends and supporters of the Friends of the IAA, representatives of the Israel Antiquities Authority, members of the Louvre and other guests took place prior to the viewing of the exhibition in the cour du Sphinx. In the majestic cour du Sphinx, which has been closed for many years and re-opened with our exhibition, the mosaic is surrounded by wonderful works from the Louvre's Roman collection including the Four Seasons Mosaic from Antioch, magnificent elements from the Griffon frieze from the Trajan Forum in Rome, the 4 meter tall colossal marble statue Melpomène, and wonderful elements from the 4th century BCE frieze in the Temple of Artemis Leukophryene at Magnesia ad Maeandrum.
Until the exhibition of the Lod Mosaic, only several Israeli artists have been exhibited in the Louvre, and now, for the very first time, an official Israeli exhibition is on display in this great museum.
According to the director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Shuka Dorfman, "This is a great honor and achievement for the Israel Antiquities Authority and a wonderful opportunity for the millions of visitors to the museum to see the masterpiece from Lod and learn about the archaeology and history of the Land of Israel."
Following its exhibition in the Louvre, the Lod Mosaic will travel to Berlin and will be exhibited in the rotunde of the majestic Altes Museum, the 1830 Schinkel designed building at the entrance to the famous Museum Island and overlooking the Unter den Linden boulevard.
Special Paris Trip
To celebrate the historic exhibition in the Louvre, the Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority organized an exclusive trip to Paris for a small number of long time friends and great supporters of our work who came from the U.S, Europe and Israel. The trip was arranged with the help and support of our colleagues in the Musée du Louvre, and our guests had the privilege of attending the opening reception, private tours of the Louvre's spectacular Greek, Roman and Etruscan collections and the recently opened Islamic Art Galleries hosted by Louvre curators, a private tour and behind the scenes look of the stunning Chantilly Estate Museum and Gardens hosted by our colleague Jean François Jarrige, member of the French Academy; receptions in some of Paris' grand private homes and a breakfast hosted by Israel's Ambassador to Paris.
The Lod Mosaic Exhibition
The Lod Mosaic exhibition highlights the three large panels found in what was probably a large audience room. Within the central panel-which measures 13 feet square-is a series of smaller squares and triangles depicting various birds, fish, and animals that surround a larger octagonal scene with ferocious wild animals-a lion and lioness, an elephant, a giraffe, a rhinoceros, a tiger and a bull. Such animals were well known to the Romans since they appeared at gladiatorial games, where they were pitted either against each other or against human adversaries.
The mosaic may therefore represent the largesse that the owner had conferred by staging games with wild animal hunts. Flanking the central panel to the north and south are two smaller, rectangular end panels. The north panel explores the same theme as the main panel with various creatures; the south panel is devoted to a single marine scene, complete with two Roman merchant ships. A striking feature of all the mosaics is that none of them contains any human figures.
These exhibitions are an extraordinary opportunity to share with the public around the world the most spectacular objects discovered in Israel, and educate the public about the importance and urgency of the archaeological work conducted by the IAA.
The Lod Mosaic is on loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center.
The presentation is supported by the Cercle International du Louvre with the collaboration of the American Friends of the Louvre, of the Fondation du Judaïsme français, The Selz Foundation, The David Berg Foundation, The Bernard Osher Jewish Philanthropies Foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund as well as the Israeli Embassy in France and the Hicham Aboutaam, Phoenix Ancient Art. This presentation was realised thanks to The Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority.