• The relationship between luxury and power in the ancient world is explored in a new exhibition at the British Museum. Luxury and power: Persia to Greece focuses on the period between 550-30 BC in the Middle East and south-east Europe, a period during which the Persian empire of ancient Iran clashed with the cities and kingdoms of Greece before it was conquered by Alexander the Great. Highlights include Bulgaria’s Panagyurishte Treasure which, on loan, consists of nine richly decorated Persian gold vessels including eight rhyta used to pour wine and one bowl to drink it. There’s also a Persian gilt silver rhyton shaped as a griffin, Athenian examples of drinking vessels, and, a gold wreath from Turkey which consists of two branches with a bee with two cicadas and showcases how styles evolved into the period after the death of Alexander in 323 BC. The exhibition in the Joseph Hotung Great Court Gallery can be seen until 13th August. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.britishmuseum.org/luxuryandpower.
• The first major art exhibition to explore the life and legacy of Saint Francis of Assisi has opened at The National Gallery. Saint Francis of Assisi, which features works spanning the period from the 13th century to today, includes 40 works, ranging from medieval painted panels to relics, manuscripts and even a Marvel comic book. Highlights include Francisco de Zurbarán’s Saint Francis in Meditation (1635‒9), Antony Gormley’s Untitled (for Francis) (1985), Sandro Botticelli’s Saint Francis of Assisi with Angels (about 1475‒80 – pictured), El Greco’s Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata (1590‒5), Giovanni Costa’s Frate Francesco e Frate Sole (1878‒86), and Matthew Paris’ drawings in the Chronica maiora, which present some of the earliest English depictions of Saint Francis. There’s also a relic of Francis’s habit from Santa Croce, Florence, and a small section of the exhibition is dedicated to Saint Clare, one of the first followers of Francis. The exhibition in the Ground Floor Galleries can be seen until 30th June. Admission is free. For more, see nationalgallery.org.uk.
• England’s oldest hospital, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, is being celebrated in an outdoor exhibition in the City of London. Founded in 1123 – 900 years ago this year, the history of the hospital is being being told using photographs, art, and history drawn from Barts Health NHS Trust Archives’ extensive collections. The display can be seen in Guildhall Yard until 6th June after which it will move to Aldgate Square until 5th July before finally moving to St Bartholomew’s Hospital Square until 1st August. The exhibition is part of Barts900. For more on the programme of events, see Barts900 website.
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