Life, Death & Revelry

June 14 - September 3, 2018
Hostetter Gallery

About the Exhibition

The Farnese Sarcophagus—with its glorious images of cavorting satyrs and maenads—is one of the most important works of art in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The exhibition and accompanying catalog trace the object's journey over two millennia from ancient Rome to contemporary Boston, exploring the many ways in which it has inspired generations of artists, collectors, conservators, and viewers since its rediscovery in the early modern era.

For the first time in over 100 years, we have moved this monumental work from its usual location, wedged between columns in the Palace courtyard, into Hostetter Gallery, so that all four sides of it are now visible. This exhibition presents new discoveries by our conservation team about its original colorful appearance and the restoration campaigns it has undergone in the last few centuries.

This ancient work will be in conversation with Maenads & Satyrs, a 3D video installation by 2012 Artists-in-Residence OpenEndedGroup. The soundtrack is composed by Kaija Saariaho and performed by cellist Yeesun Kim of the Borromeo Quartet.

Making Maenads & Satyrs, 2018. Video by Dillon Buss.

Exhibition Catalog

Life, Death & Revelry will offer a multi-disciplinary, multi-era look at this important monument. Published to accompany an exhibition at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, it will bring together archaeological analyses of the piece and its previous restorations, and numerous Renaissance prints and drawings depicting the sarcophagus during its time in Rome.

Exhibition-Inspired Programs

Life, Death & Revelry is made possible in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Wallace Minot Leonard Foundation, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which receives funding from the State of Massachusetts and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

The Artist-in-Residence Program is directed by Pieranna Cavalchini, the Tom and Lisa Blumenthal Curator of Contemporary Art, and is supported, in part, by the Barbara Lee Program Fund.

The conservation project for the Farnese Sarcophagus with Revelers Gathering Grapes is generously sponsored by Bank of America. 

Media Sponsor: WGBH