ARTnThe Grandeur ofnthe Gettynby Shehbaz H. SafraninIn its setting, landscaping, architecture,nand art collection, the J. PaulnGetty Museum is unique in America.nOutside and inside, the museum isndesigned to delight and stimulate visitors,nespecially those devoted to art,naesthetics, archaeology, and history.nNowhere at the Getty is there a tracenof eccentricity. Of course, the Gettynepitomizes the power of wealth, butneverything is so refined that only leftistncynics will find reasons to complain.nWhat to me is utterly commendablenabout America and Americans is thenpervasive spirit of democracy. AlthoughnMr. Getty amassed extraordinarynriches, his museum in Malibu,nCalifornia, remains a monument to allnof mankind. Tycoons less philanthropicnthan he have hoarded their treasures.nExcept for the name of the museum,nthere are no reminders (besidesnGetty’s manifestly excellent taste innart) of whose philanthropy made possiblenthe magnificent Roman villa housingnhis fabulous art collection.nFrom its location on a hill overlookingnthe Pacific, the Getty affords visitorsna view reminiscent of that enjoyednfrom the Neapolitan hill San Martino.nFrom San Martino, the view is perhapsnthe most beautiful in the entire world:nto one side is the end of the Appenines,ndotted with an occasionalnMediterranean pine; Naples stretchesnbelow to where the blue of the Mediterraneanngently curves in on the land;nand there, in the distance, is Vesuvius.nThis sight from Naples is the epitomenof earth, air, water, and fire. Often anwisp of smoke is seen rising from thenVesuvius. From the Roman Empire tonour age, all sorts of people—includingnKeats, Shelley, and Goethe—havenpaused in and around San Martino tonmarvel at this feat of nature: La piunVITAL SIGNSnMain peristyle garden and museum facade. Photograph by Tony O’Keefe, courtesy of the J.nPaul Getty Museum.nbella veduta, as it is said in Italian. Nonwonder that when Neapolitan views ofnVesuvius appear at auction, they arensnapped up instantly. Those who havenmarveled at the view from San Martinonwill have a sense of deja vu whilenstanding at the Getty.nMr. Getty envisioned such a museumnas he trekked all over the ItaliannMezzogiorno, the archaeological paradisenaround Naples that includes Pompeii,nHerculaneum, and Stabiae. Bornnin Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1892,nGetty spent most of his life in Europe,nbeginning his 30 years of art collechngnin the 1930’s. From the outset, Mr.nGetty focused his attentions uponnthree spheres of art—Greek andnRoman antiquities, Renaissance andnBaroque paintings, and French 18thcenturyndecorative arts. In all thesenareas, the present-day Getty Museumnexcels. Before his death in England innnn1976, he had painstakingly put togetherna collection that reminds us of thenBorghese, Doria-Pamphilj, Farnese,nand de Medici collections. Most ofnthese formidable Italian collections ofnart are housed in Renaissance, Baroque,nand Rococo palaces. An infinitelynsmaller collection of antiquities,nalso comparable to Getty’s, is to benseen in the restored Villa of Tiberiusnon the isle of Capri, all of it putntogether by Axel Munthe, the Scandinavianndoctor who made a fortunenwith his book The Story of SannMichele.nThe antiquities at the Getty arenstaggering. In a reception area, forninstance, I counted more than a scorenof Roman marble heads, all verynhandsome, on three massive shelves.nThe Getty Bronze by Lysippus isnbut one of the masterpieces amongnthe antiquities at the Getty. Also onnJANUARY 1986/39n