Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Barbara Cavaliere, Jennifer Udell (ed.), Ancient Mediterranean Art: The William D. and Jane Walsh Collection at Fordham University. New York: Fordham University Press, 2012. Pp. 343. ISBN 9780823244522. $75.00.

Reviewed by Jessica L. Ambler (

Version at BMCR home site

The exhibition catalogue under consideration commemorates a generous gift of approximately 270 antiquities by William D. Walsh to his alma mater, Fordham University, in 2006. As a former student of Classics and a collector, Walsh intended his gift to be used as a teaching assemblage, placed permanently on view so that students could be exposed to the material culture of Greece, Etruria and Rome. Aside from exploring questions of cultural patrimony, which the curator does thoroughly in the catalogue's introduction, Ancient Mediterranean Art presents 104 beautiful and wide-ranging objects in a scholarly manner.

The volume is edited by Barbara Cavaliere and Jennifer Udell, who is the Curator of University Art at Fordham University. The catalogue contains mainly works gifted by Walsh but also includes a few items already in Fordham's permanent collection, such as the Roman coins and Roman glass vessels. The entries are grouped into sections by civilization, including "Cypriot", "Greek", "Etruscan", and "Roman", with further subdivisions by medium or type (i.e. terracottas or votives). These sections are chronological except for "Ancient Near Eastern Art" which appears at the end of the book, and the "Coins" section, which precedes it.

Each object is given a catalogue number and title, along with full detailed information. Extensive condition reports appear along the left margin of the written entries. The color photography is of excellent quality with full-page reproductions of each work facing its description. In many cases, small images of alternative views or the details of important figures are also included.

The thirteen contributors range from graduate students to professors as well as curators and independent scholars. As with any collaborative project of this type, the catalogue essays vary from author to author in terms of length, from a few sentences to multiple pages. Each includes a concise and very useful bibliography, for further research on the topic or on specific objects.

Where some sections, such as "Cypriot" art have only a few objects ("Ancient Near Eastern" art has only one), others are well rounded. The "Greek" art section stands out for its exceptional examples of black- and red-figure pottery and the well-researched essays that provide excellent formal analysis for the non-specialist as well as the convincing attempts to connect the many previously unpublished pieces to known artists and comparative works in other collections. The "Villanovan, Etruscan and Italic" art section is also notable for the fine examples of Etruscan bucchero pottery, Caeretan vases and Etruscan roof decorations and votives, all of which are defined as types and systems in lengthy but instructive pages preceding the individual entries.

Although the intended readership for this catalogue is not immediately apparent, the excellent photography, insightfully written entries and careful selection of works included ultimately make the volume accessible to scholars, students and museum members alike.

Table of Contents

Foreword by William D. Walsh
Introduction by Jennifer Udell
Cypriot Art
Greek Art
Mycenaean, Attic, and Corinthian Vases
South Italian Vases
Greek and South Italian Terracottas
Villanovan, Etruscan, and Italic Art
Villanovan, Objects
Etruscan Vases
Etruscan Terracottas
Italic Votives
Etruscan Mirror
Roman Art
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Cuneiform Tablet

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