Monday, May 22, 2017


First Gallery - Portraits from Villa Adriana in Tivoli
Fifth Room - Sculptures from Imperial Homes
Two copies of the marvelous “Venus before the bath” from the original maybe in bronze of the second century BC by Doidalsas exhibited, according to Pliny, in the Portico d'Ottavia: one from Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, the best of many existing copies and one in Parian marble found in 1913 in Via Palermo, near the Viminal Palace
“It is in the wake of the changes introduced by Lysippus and Praxiteles: it inherits from the first the rhythm sought in the apparent instability, from the second the delicate sensuality. Typical of Asia Minor, from which Doidalsas came, however, is the full and prosperous softness” (Elena Calandra)
“Headless Ephebe” first century AD from the Villa of Nero in Subiaco maybe a Niobid with traces of ganosis, the wax-like substance which was used to imitate complexion
“Head of a Young Girl Asleep” first century AD from the Villa of Nero in Subiaco, maybe a dead Niobid
“Dancing Girl” from Hadrian's Villa
It's amazing how a statue with most of the limbs missing would still be able to express so intensely movement, sensuality, music and joy
“Statue of Dionysus” and “Statue of Athena” of the Vescovali-Arezzo type from Hadrian’s Villa
“Maiden of Anzio” third century BC in white Greek marble of two different types of which the finer it is used for the flesh
“Figure of intense expressiveness, caught in a complex pose, enriched with light and shadow play, thoughtful and melancholy” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
“The slender figure must be connected to the school of Lysippus, while the overall approach reminds of Praxiteles' compositional schemes. The twist of the figure shows instead the beginning of Hellenism. On the other hand the use of two different qualities of marble connects it to workshops of Asia Minor and also the adoption of the heavy roll of folds around the waist is of Greek and Eastern European origin” (Elena Calandra)
“Apollo of Anzio” mid-first century AD from an original of the fourth century BC of the school of Praxiteles. It was found by the Anzio-Ardea state road
“Headless amazon on horse fighting a barbarian” Antonine period from Anzio. It is a copy of a Hellenistic original
“Head of an Amazon” from Hadrian's Villa
“Headless statue of Heracles” first century BC from the Villa of Voconio Pollio in Ciampino from a Greek original of the fourth century BC
“Crater with cranes and snakes” in Pentelic marble from Hadrian’s Villa
“Two heads of Apollo Lyceus” from the original by Praxiteles (about 395/326 BC)
“Apollo from the Tiber” neo-attic work in Parian marble
Sixth Room - Statues from Gymnasiums
“Lancellotti Discus Thrower” found in 1781 in the Villa Palombara where Piazza Vittorio is today and kept in Palazzo Lancellotti
It was bought in 1939 by Hitler for 5 million lira and was taken to Munich. It was retrieved after the war
Both statues are copies from a bronze original of about 450 BC by Myron of Eleutherae (about 500/about 440 BC)
“The body is caught in the moment of its maximum tension. But the effort is not reflected in the face, which expresses only a measured concentration of determination and intelligence. Strong and harmonious the twisting of limbs, in a wheel composition, with the gestural rhythm of the hands on which attention inevitably focuses” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
“Ephebe of Monteverde” first half of the first century AD
“Three heads of athletes” from originals of Skopas, Polykleitos of Argos (about 490/about 425 BC) and Lysippus

Friday, May 19, 2017


SECOND FLOOR - Statues of the Imperial Period
First Room - Room of the charioteers
“Eight herms of charioteers” from the Shrine of Hercules Cubans (hypothetical attribution), in the area of Viale Trastevere
“Plotina” about 120, Trajan's wife, from the Baths of Neptune in Ostia
“The personality of Plotina influenced a lot the formation of Hadrian and, according to sources, even his rise to power: linked to Hadrian with an almost maternal deep friendship if not a love affair, she would have reached the point of falsifying the last will of her husband in his favor. The belated evidence of gratitude from Hadrian shown on coins from the year 134 for the woman who had opened the doors of power for him, giving him also her niece Sabina - daughter of Matidia, sister of Trajan - as wife, was probably due to his intent to minimize the rumors about their alleged relationship” (Elena Calandra)
“Statue of Trajan-Heracles”
“Two portraits of Sabina” wife of Hadrian, one from the Victor Emmanuel Monument area with significant traces of colors and one from the Appian Way
“Hadrian” about 117 from S. Bibiana
“The fact that Hadrian used to wear a beard, expression of his philhellenism and function connoting the concept of sapientia (knowledge), plays a crucial role also from a formal point of view. Along with the curly and plastic locks of hair, it works as an element of vivid chiaroscuro contrast with the smooth and bright surfaces of the face. In a solidly classical composition is introduced therefore, albeit still mildly, an idea of plasticity and baroque exuberance that will find a strong emphasis in later portraits” (Gian Luca Grassigli - TMG)
“Antinous” from the Magna Mater field at Ostia with the faces of two unidentified people in the diadem, perhaps Nerva and Hadrian and traces of red in his hair
It is believed that at least 2,000 statues of Antinous existed in ancient times of which only about 115 are currently extant
“Funerary relief of the Decii” from the Via Ostiense
“Heroic Antoninus Pius” from Terracina with chlamys buckled on the shoulder maybe like the Diomede Cuma-Monaco type of the fifth century BC widely used by public figures and Roman emperors
“Two portraits of Antoninus Pius” one from Formia and one from an unknown location
“Statue of Faustina Minor” wife of Marcus Aurelius with head maybe not relevant, of the so called praying type perhaps a reworking of a type created for Livia
“Two friezes of Provinces” (maybe Thrace and Egypt) from the Temple of Hadrian
Fourth Room - Period of Marcus Aurelius (161/180) and Commodus (180/192)
“Statue of Lucilla” sister of Marcus Aurelius
“Portrait of Crispina” wife of Commodus

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Seventh Room - Exceptional Bronzes from Via IV Novembre
“Boxer” about 100/50 BC
“The realism of the representation deliberately enhances the contrast between the realism of the Hellenistic boxer with the heroic ideals of classical athletes. His body and face swollen and bruised depict a grim reality even if not an annihilating one, which is contrary to the simplicity of the pose and to the beard and hair orderly styled in linear curls reminiscent of the classic styles. Figures like this show that the continuing interest for features of the Hellenistic Baroque style merges with limpid classical reminiscences” (John Griffiths Pedley)
“The eclecticism of the composition is apparent on one hand in the polykleitos matrix expressed in the weight and solidity of the body, on the other hand in the obvious reminiscences of Lysippus seen in the structure, size and character of the head, in the rhythm of the work that cites the 'Alexander with the Spear' and in the gesture of the right hand resting on the buttock, in direct allusion to the 'Erakles at Rest' of the sculptor from Sicyon” (Mario Torelli, Mauro Menichetti, Gian Luca Grassigli)
Eighth room - Neo-Attic statuary production and decorations
“Aphrodite demure” first century BC signed by Menophantos from the Botanical Gardens on Celium Hill, connected to the tradition of Aphrodites started with the Aphrodite of Cnidus by Praxiteles
“Unlike the Cnidian one, the Aphrodite of Menophantos shows traits closer to the human sphere, as revealed by the fearful expression of the face that doesn't have anymore the godly detachment of the Praxiteles' model. Compared to other replicas, original elements remain in this case the toiletries box at the feet of the goddess and the resumption of the theme of the towel held on the womb, which seems to even want to emphasize the modesty of the creation of Praxiteles or, rather, a form of ambiguous game that attracts the viewer's eye on the covered areas” (Brunella Germini)
“Headless Athena” from Celium Hill echoing the Athena Parthenos by Phidias
“Cylindrical base with Maenads dancing” first century BC in Pentelic marble from the Sciarra Collection
“Muse” perhaps Melpomene of the Melpomene Farnese type
“Neo-Attic basin” early first century BC in Pentelic marble from Lungotevere in Sassia with transport of weapons of Achilles forged by Hephaestus after Thetis' request
“Figurative late Hellenistic language inspired from models of Pergamon. The functionality of the basin as a fountain which, in all likelihood, was destined to be part of the decoration of the garden of a wealthy Roman villa, was assured by a median hole, through which water ran to be poured from the rim, so as to make more naturalistic the decoration with the marine cortege” (Brunella Germini)
“Neo-Attic frieze with Nike and bull” about 60 BC inspired by the reliefs of the Temple of Athena Nike in Athens
“Altar with archaistic Graces” end of first century BC from the Appian Way

Saturday, May 13, 2017


Second Gallery - Imperial Cult
“Headless statue of emperor with breastplate” of the Antonine period
Fourth room - Images of the Julio-Claudian Family
“Gaius Octavius” father of Octavian Augustus
“Small bust maybe of Caligula” from the River Tiber near Via Giulia
“Livia” with her typical hairstyle with nodustypus conservative reaction to the complicated Hellenistic hairstyles
“Agrippina the Younger” from Ostia
“Agrippina the Elder”
“Girl from Ostia as Artemis” of the Flavian period, when it was common to the identify individuals with gods in funerary depictions, in this case Diana, symbol of chastity and beauty for a girl
Fifth Room - Augustan Period
“Augustus as Pontifex” from Via Labicana
“Altar of Mars and Venus” early second century AD from the Square of the Guilds in Ostia with representation of the twins Romulus and Remus suckled by the wolf and supervised by the eagle symbol of Jupiter and Rome
Third Gallery - Portraits of Greeks
“Socrates” from a bronze original by Lysippus of 350 BC in the version of the so called type B with features less Silenus like than the version of the so called type A
“Portrait of a bearded man” first century AD in Greek marble from a Greek original of the early second century BC. It is probably the portrait of a philosopher
“Philip V of Macedonia”
“Boxer” from the Villa of Genazzano
Bronze portrait of “Alexander the Great” with hair arranged with the anastolè
“Marble portrait of Alexander the Great” I sec. A.D. from the Temple of Hercules at Tivoli with fourteen holes maybe a crown maybe an original by Lysippus
Sixth Room – Greek Originals
“Niobid from the Gardens of Sallust” Greek original about 440 BC in Parian marble from Via Collina perhaps from the pediment of the Temple of Apollo Daphnephoros at Eretria: the myth of Niobe was the hubris (arrogance) inevitably punished
“Peplophoros” maybe Greek original from Piazza Barberini

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


First Gallery - Anonymous Republican Portraits
“Elderly Woman” Augustan period (27 BC/14 AD) from Palombara Sabina
“This hairstyle, attested for the first time in Octavia, later became the official hairstyle of Livia, since when she assumed the title of Augusta. Here it is represented in its simplest form, without the division in the middle, and it highlights, in the eclectic combination with the lifelike features of the face, the phenomenon of Zeitgesicht (face of the period), that is, the conscious attempt by the lower classes of the population to homologate with the official iconographic model, through the quotation of hairstyles or facial features relevant to members of the imperial house” (Brunella Germini)
First Room - Portraits of the Roman Ruling Class
“General from Tivoli” about 70 BC from the Temple of Hercules at Tivoli
“The typical traits of the tradition of the veristic Italic portrait contrast in a unique way with the powerful muscles of the body and the representation of the figure as a hero, which are rather based on late Hellenistic sculpture models” (Brunella Germini)
“Victorious General” II sec. BC
“Head of a young woman” end of the first century BC
It is the only example of the calendar of Numa Pompilius (the second king of Rome) with 355 days in 12 months dating back to the Republican age before the reform of Julius Caesar
Second Room - Evolution of the image during the periods of Caesar and Augustus
“Funerary stele of the Rabirii” about 40 BC with portrait on the right of Usia priestess of Isis reworked not before 40 AD
“Portrait of a Man” beginning of the first century AD
It was found in the River Tiber and it perhaps represents Brutus, the exiled Agrippa Postumus or a private citizen combed and shown according to the canons of the Augustan portraiture
“Relief of limestone with curulis saddle” mid-first century BC from Torre Gaia
“The relief depicts a curulis saddle (a folding stool made of wood, ivory and leather, used by the senators and magistrates on official occasions) and, below this, a cylindrical container (capsa) for documents, resting on a base ( ...). Origin of luck and dissemination of this theme is the gift by the senators of a curulis saddle made of gold to Julius Caesar, on the occasion of his triumph of 50 BC. The seat also appeared as a result on some coins with symbolic value and evocative of the almost kingly prerogatives of the character and it was also used on private monuments as a symbol of the dignity of magistrates” (Vittoria Lecce)
It is a calendar made by the grammarian Verrius Flaccus and it is a very important document showing the reform introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 BC
In the old Numan calendar the days were calculated according to their distance from three specific days of the month: the Calende (first crescent moon), the Nones (first quarter moon) and the Ides (full moon)
Under the Julian calendar any connection with the phases of the moon was abandoned even if the names were kept. A system of division of the days in groups of nine was introduced, similar to our weeks, as well as a definition of the days which could be fasti (activities permitted), nefasti (activities not permitted), comitiales (activities not permitted except political ones), endotercisi nefasti (nefasti at the beginning and end of the day but fasti in the middle) and so on
The Julian calendar was used until the late 1500s when the Gregorian Calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII Boncompagni (1572/85)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


1883/87 Camillo Pistrucci (1856/27) in Neo-Renaissance style as home to a college for Jesuits until 1960, on the site of the Palace of Sixtus V at the Baths, the last building to be demolished of the large Villa Peretti Montalto which had become property of the Massimo family
The Italian state bought it in 1981 and had it restored to convert it into a museum by Costantino Dardi (1936/91)
The ground floor was opened to the public in 1995 and the whole museum in 1998
National Roman Museum
It is made out of five different museums in five different locations. The other four are Palazzo Massimo, Crypta Balbi, Museo delle Terme and Museo Palatino
Established in 1889 with headquarters in the Baths of Diocletian and then enlarged with the antiquities of the Kircher Museum and of the Ludovisi collection
GROUND FLOOR - Statuary of the Republican and Augustan period
Room of passage
“Colossal polychrome Minerva” of the Augustan period, from the Aventine Hill, perhaps near the site of the Temple of Minerva seat of the guilds
She is represented sitting as Minerva patron of craftsmen and of the children of school age

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


1874/83 Salvatore Bianchi (1821/84)
FAÇADE ON VIA DEL CORSO 1888 Giulio Podesti (1857/1909) after the palace was moved back for the expansion of Via del Corso
Here the ARAGNO CAFÈ was established and became a meeting place for writers and journalists
It is the seat of the Riunione Adriatica di Sicurtà or the insurance company Allianz-RAS

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


1662 Carlo Rainaldi (1611/91) for Filippo Giuliano Mazzarino Mancini Duke of Nevers and continued until 1690 by Sebastiano Cipriani (about 1660/1740)
Formerly known as Palazzo Salviati is now owned by the Bank of Sicily
Paolo Mancini and his wife Victoria Capocci established here the Academy of Humorists, a meeting place for artists and intellectuals, including G.B. Marino
In 1725 it was bought by the king of France, Louis XV, and was until 1803 the seat of the FRENCH ACADEMY, the most prestigious art school at the time, before it was moved to Villa Medici
The Academy was known as the only public place where it was possible to carry out studies of live nudes, in a period when strict decency was required especially in works commissioned by the papal state
In the GALLERY, a large hall with a barrel vault of 17 m (56 feet) in 1769 students of the French Academy practiced copying into detail the paintings of Raphael in the Vatican Loggia

Sunday, April 30, 2017


1580 Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602) for Cardinal Marcantonio Maffei. The construction was interrupted unfinished in 1601 for the death of the client
It was bought in 1746 by the Marescotti family and transformed maybe​by Ferdinando Fuga (1699/1782)
FAÇADE ON VIA DELLA PIGNA 1865 by Antonio Sarti (1797/1880) for the Bank of the Papal States, which had bought the palace it in that same year
The head office of the bank relocated to the Vatican in 1906 and the building was used for the offices of the Vicariate until 1964
It is now home to Catholic organizations such as Azione Cattolica (Catholic Action)
Ceiling and frieze painted in the fifteenth century
Seventeenth-century frescoes on the walls

Saturday, April 29, 2017


1503 for Giovanni de' Medici, the future Pope Leo X (1513/21) from a building of the fifteenth century
It was enlarged in 1512
It owes its name to Madame Margaret of Austria (1522/86), daughter of Charles V, the widow of Alessandro de' Medici and then wife of Ottavio Farnese, who was the nephew of Pope Paul III Farnese (1534/49). She lived in the palace from 1541 to 1550
Restructured in the years 1637/42 Paolo Marucelli (1594/1649) who worked from a project by Ludovico Cardi aka Cigoli (1559/1613) for the Grand Duke of Florence, Cosimo II Medici and his son Ferdinand II
“The 'facies' (general appearance) of the building reflects the need of the Grand Duke and cardinals to assert a Tuscan identity, adapting it to the Roman location and to the plasticity of the Baroque era. (...) It is apparent from recent archival research that Marucelli alternated the role of designer to the Director in charge of construction, coordinating artists and craftsmen working under his guidance in other important contemporary Roman sites, such as the sculptor Cosimo Fancelli (...) The bad critique of Marucelli began at least from Milizia who judged negatively façade and courtyard of Palazzo Madama and lasted into the twentieth century from Portoghesi to Ruschi. A deeper understanding of his work must necessarily start from the studies of Connors and can lead to see him as an interpreter of a seventeenth century balanced between late fifteenth century classicism, with strong references to the work of Palladio, and baroque eclecticism” (Laura Traversi - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)
On the FAÇADE there are over a hundred figures of lions including the skin of the Nemean lion carved on the entrance door, which recalls the myth of Hercules and are consistent with the face of Omphale whose braids surround a window
Hercules and Omphale generated Tyrrhenus, mythical ancestor of the Etruscan (in Greek Tyrsenoi), from whom the Medici traced their genealogy
Omphale kept Hercules for three years as his slave. The submission of Heracles was such that he was forced to dress as a woman and humbled to spin wool while Omphale dressed the manly lion skin of Hercules
At the end of 1500 the palace was home of Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte, who hosted Caravaggio here from 1595 until 1600
From 1737 it belonged to the Lorraine family, then it was the seat of the papal government, the seat of the papal court and police headquarters and from this comes the Roman dialect word madama (lady) as to indicate the police
Since 1849 it was the Ministry of Finance and on the external loggia the extraction of the lottery used to take place
It was expanded in 1905 toward S. Luigi dei Francesi
Statue “Great squat figure” 1971 by Emilio Greco (1913/95)
Obtained from the original courtyard by Luigi Gabet (active 1858/78)
“Four round panels” with allegorical figures (trade, agriculture, weapons, arts, sciences and the arts), arranged around a central motif, symbolizing Italy
Along the frieze there are sentences of Guicciardini and Machiavelli
Three large frescoes:
“Appius Claudius the Blind conducted in the Senate”, “Regulus advises the Roman Senate resistance against Carthage” and “Cicero inveighs against Catiline”
Two small frescos:
“Senator Papirius Gallo impassive as the Celts invade Rome” and “Attempt to corruption of the Samnites against Curio Dentato to convince the Romans to peace” all made in the years 1882/88 by the Sienese artist Cesare Maccari (1840/1919)
Ceiling and seventeenth-century frieze
In the frieze “History of Pius IV Medici (1559/65)” maybe by Pietro Paolo Baldini (about 1614/about 1684)
Seventeenth-century frieze
Painting “Salome with the Head of John the Baptist” by the Florentine Carlo Dolci (1616/86)
The name of the room is given by the postergali, or headboards of a seventeenth-century choir preserved here
It occupies part of the area where the church of S. Salvatore in Thermis used to be. It was destroyed at the end of 1800s because, being adjacent to the palace, it could have posed a threat of terrorist attacks
Two paintings with views of the “Roman Forum” and of the “Baths of Diocletian” by Giovanni Paolo Pannini (1691/1765)
Painting “Etna eruption” by Corrado Cagli (1910/76)
Oval in the center of the ceiling “Bacchus and Ariadne” by G.B. Pittoni (1687/1767)
The room is available to members of the government during sessions and sometimes here the Council of Ministers is held
Ceiling fresco “Allegory of the Chariot of the Sun” 1725/26 by Giovanni Paolo Pannini (1691/1765)
The fresco was originally in the Palazzo Bachetoni which was demolished in 1926 for the opening of Via del Tritone
“Portrait of a Man” by Gerrit Van Honthorst aka Gherardo Delle Notti (1590/1656)
“Give to Caesar what is Caesar's” by Luca Giordano (1634/1705)
“Fountain” by Vincenzo Gemito (1852/1929
Arranged by Gaetano Koch (1849/1910). Since 2006 it is called Geopolitics Room