barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


A Tale of Two Empires: Rome and Persia

A stand-off between two superpowers may feel like a relatively modern phenomenon – but it is one with roots extending back thousands of years.

‘A Tale of Two Empires’ charts a fascinating journey: from the violence, glory and humiliation of the third century; through the artistic interaction, peace, and tolerance of the early fifth to alliance, betrayal and revenge in the seventh century.

Told through the Barber’s extensive Late Roman coin collection and its historically important Sasanian cache (Sasania was the last kingdom of the Persian Empire – modern-day Iran), the exhibition explores how the ancient superpowers of Rome and Persia spun humiliating defeats and promoted their bloody victories on the small pieces of art circulating in the pockets of the masses.

With the aid of seals – on loan from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge – it will also discuss the artistic themes and devices these two civilizations had in common.

Covid–19 (Coronavirus)

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Philip Galle (1537-1612)

The story of the Prodigal Son - The prodigal son leaving his father’s house

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Philip Galle (1537-1612)

The Story of the Prodigal Son - The Prodigal Son Squandering His Inheritance on Harlots

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Orazio Farinati (1559 – after 1616)

The Madonna and Child with St John the Baptist

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