Browse Exhibits (6 total)

Allegorical Trophées

Trophies are a symbol of victory.  The English word trophy comes from the French trophée meaning, “a prize of war”.  Ancient military victories were memorialized by displaying seized weapons, coats of arms, flags, standards, and armor.  During the Renaissance, trophies were depicted in art and architecture as popular decoration.  Artists began to create trophy decorations using other items allegorically such as musical instruments, tools of agriculture, and hunting paraphernalia.  Allegorical themes arose such as “The Triumph of Music” and “The Allegory of the Hunt.”

This exhibit explores the various ways that musical triangles are depicted in allegorical trophées.

I hope you enjoy the exhibit!

~Mark Berry, curator

Classical Mythology

Renaissance artists, with rekindled interest in classical antiquity, began portraying mythological subjects in addition to traditional Christian themes.  There existed a growing interest in the gods and goddesses of old--Bacchus, Apollo, Athena, and the like.  Since that time, the triangle (a musical instrument not known to exist in classical antiquity) has been depicted in art alongside musical instruments of the day, in a variety of mythological settings.  This Exhibit seeks to share these depictions of the triangle as artists re-imagined the instrument back into mythology, perhaps also giving mythology an upgraded look and feel along the way.

I hope you find the exhibit to be interesting and valuable.

~Mark Berry, curator

Jephthah's Daughter

Jephthah's daughter is a Biblical figure whose story is found in chapter 11 of the book of Judges.  Jephthah, a soldier, made a challenging vow to God saying that if God gave him victory over the Ammonites, he would offer whatever came out of his house upon arriving home victorious, as a burnt offering.  Sadly, upon arriving home, it was not a servant nor an animal that greeted Jephthah—it was his only child.  His daughter came out to meet him upon his return; she was dancing and playing a timbrel.  Jephthah tore his clothes and mourned, remembering his vow to God.

Jephthah went on to do as he had vowed.

The story of Jephthah and his daughter has inspired artists throughout the centuries to interpret the musical instruments of the scene creatively.

I hope you find the exhibit to be interesting and valuable.

~Mark Berry, curator

Per Aspera Ad Astra


“Per Aspera Ad Astra” is a 223-ft long wall frieze comprised of 43 panels—a colossal work of art depicting silhouettes of children playing musical instruments and dancing, while processing with animals. 

Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach (1851-1913) was a German artist, painter, and social reformer associated with the Jugendstil (German Art Nouveau) movement. He is best known for his utopian vision and his work titled "Per Aspera Ad Astra," as well as “Self-portrait as Christ”.

"Per Aspera Ad Astra", which translates to "Through Hardship to the Stars”, is also the title of Diefenbach's book, published in 1901, as well as the overarching concept that guided his artistic and philosophical endeavors.  In his book, Diefenbach outlined his utopian vision for a society based on communal living, vegetarianism, and a rejection of materialism.

Diefenbach's lifestyle and beliefs were unconventional for his time. He established a commune in Vienna called "Himmelhof" (Heavenly Court), where his disciples gathered to live according to his utopian principles. Despite facing challenges and criticism, Diefenbach remained dedicated to his vision until his death in 1913.

I hope you find the exhibit to be interesting and valuable.

~Mark Berry, curator

The Supposed "Round Triangle" with Rings - Museum of Portici - Herculaneum

Herculaneum, a Roman town near Naples, was buried by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Excavations have revealed musical instruments linked to the Bacchantes, followers of Bacchus, the god of revelry. These artifacts, housed in the Portici museum in Italy, include aulos, lyres, harps, small cymbals, and a peculiar instrument -- a round ring having smaller jingling rings attached. 

Triangles are seen in iconography shaped as triangles, trapezoids, and stirrups.  So then, might the circular-shaped instrument of Herculaneum, with its jingling rings be considered a type of musical triangle?  The musical context supports the idea, yet the timeframe does not.

The images in this collection are mostly from 18th and 19th century engravings from encyclopedias.  Encyclopedias at this time sought to compile and organize knowledge across various disciplines, serving to democratize learning, making information accessible to a wider audience beyond the academic and aristocratic circles.

I hope you find the exhibit interesting and valuable.

- Mark Berry, curator

The Triumph of David

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King David is perhaps best known for slaying Goliath of Gath.  Before he was king, young David bravely struck the forehead of this Philistine giant with a stone from his sling.  Then, using Goliath's own sword, David severed the head of the giant, victorius over his enemy.

The next scene is that which has influenced depictions of the triangle in iconography.

After defeating the giant, David returns home triumphant and is met by the women of all the cities of Israel singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments.  The narrative is found in 1 Samuel 17-18:7 of the Old Testament and has become a major theme in Western art throughout the centuries.  Though brief, these scriptural passages have inspired artists throughout the centuries to interpret the musical instruments of the scene creatively.

~Mark Berry, curator