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April 8, 2005

Ancient Greek Art Expert to Deliver 15th Annual Lehmann Lecture

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Smith College Professor of Art Caroline M. Houser will discuss how archaeological evidence can help determine what happened to one of the most famous statues from the ancient world, during the 15th annual Lehmann Lecture.

Her talk, titled “The Virgin Goddess: Stripped Bare?,” will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 23, in Graham Auditorium, Hillyer, Brown Fine Arts Center. A reception will follow in Neilson Library Browsing Room. Sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America's Western Massachusetts Society, the event is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.

“The Virgin” referenced in Houser’s lecture title is the statue of Athena set in the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis in the mid-5th century. The ancient Greeks called the gold and ivory statue “The Virgin” or “The Parthenos” and thought that they could remove the gold if they ever needed it to protect their city. It was later thought that the gold was stripped from the figure by the tyrant Lachares, leaving the colossal statue nude.

A founding member and past director of Smith’s Program in Archaeology and a past president of the Western Massachusetts Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, Houser approaches art history questions as an art historian, also using the tools of an archaeologist.

Houser recently curated an exhibition titled “From Myth to Life: Images of Women from the Classical World” at the Smith College Museum of Art. The exhibition is now at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and will travel to the Tampa Museum of Art. Houser wrote the catalogue for her “Dionysos and His Circle” exhibition for the Fogg Museum of Art at Harvard University and authored two books on large bronze statues made in ancient Greece. She has published articles in a wide range of journals and books and given numerous lectures at conferences, museums and universities throughout Europe and America.

The Lehmann Lecture honors Haydenville resident Phyllis Williams Lehmann, who died in September, 2004. Lehmann taught at Smith from 1946 until her retirement in 1978. Preceding Houser’s talk, James R. McCredie, the first Lehmann lecturer, will give a short memorial talk in honor of Lehmann. McCredie is the director of excavations at Samothrace and former director of fine arts at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University.

For more information, contact Jayne Mercier at (413) 585-3390.

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