Depiction of Animals from the Leo Mildenberg Collection
Curators: Ofra Rimon and Rachel Shchori

From the beginning of human civilization, animals have had an important role in the life of human beings: they attack them or are hunted by them; they provide food, transportation, and material for clothing; they are guardians and companions, sources of pleasure and amusement. The variety of animal characteristics, such as strength, elusiveness, elasticity, cruelty, or grace, captured the eye of the ancient artist. As a result, we find animals depicted throughout the history of ancient art as parts of utensils, toys, furniture, jewelry, and other artifacts used in daily life. Dr. Leo Mildenberg’s collection of animals is proof of this magical attraction, which fascinated artists in ancient times and, through them, the collector himself.
The animal figures - in paintings, sculptures, and reliefs - in the Mildenberg Collection are not mythological or imaginary creatures, but present the animals as they really are. The Mildenberg Collection, begun about fifty years ago, today numbers several hundred items. The objects, which come from the Ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, date from the 4th millennium BCE to the 1st millennium CE.
The exhibition concentrates on a selection of items representing two main subjects. The first group of items developed from cultic needs: animals representing deities, their attributes, or companions, and animals adorning vessels or artifacts used in cultic practice. The second group contains items that were intended for viewing pleasure and daily use.