Director Emeritus Grant Holcomb speaks about this object.
Gold has long enchanted and mesmerized. In classical epics we read of a “Golden Age” where virtue reigned without warfare and where “spring was the only season that there was.” But we also remember tales of conquest and discovery inspired by the love of gold: Pizarro and the Spanish invaders who decimated the Inca empire for gold, as well as the greed and adventures of the Forty-Niners during California’s Gold Rush.
The elegance and beauty of this wreath, with its fine craftsmanship of thinly hammered sheets of gold oak leaves, evoke the romance of the life and the art of ancient Greece.
Wreaths such as this one were awarded for victory on the battlefield, as well as for extraordinary accomplishments by athletes and poets and dramatists.
This quest for excellence remains one of the defining characteristics of the ancient Greeks who placed high prominence on individual achievement whether military or intellectual, political or cultural.
If the gold wreath was symbolic of victory, the oak leaf, itself, was specifically associated with Zeus who ruled supreme on Mount Olympus and the ultimate god of victory in ancient Greece.
This Gallery wreath is a thing of beauty, of craftsmanship, of excellence. We but wonder upon whose brow, and for what victory, it was placed.
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