Sunday, June 18, 2017

MASSIMO AT THE COLUMNS PALACE

PALAZZO MASSIMO ALLE COLONNE
1159, formerly known as Palazzo del Portico (Palace of the Portico) and part of the houses of the Massimo family
It was built over the ruins of the auditorium of the ODEON OF DOMITIAN (81/96), theater with 10,000 seats south of the Stadium of Domitian (Piazza Navona) used for music competitions that were part of the Certamen Capitolinum
1532/36 rebuilt by Baldassarre Peruzzi (1481/1536) of whom is the architectural masterpiece
The building is still owned by the Massimo family one of the oldest in Rome, legendarily connected to Quintus Fabius Maximus the delayer, but historically documented “only” from the year 999
PORTICO
Beautiful ceiling with wonderful portal that leads into the VESTIBULE with stuccos
Two narrow courtyards that allow light to reach even the lower floors, with sculptures and archaeological finds, including a “Venus Anadyomene”
LOGGIA
Wooden ceiling with stuccos maybe by Baldassarre Peruzzi or Pietro Bonaccorsi aka Perin del Vaga (1501/47)
ENTRANCE HALL
Frieze “Stories of Fabius Maximus” by Daniele da Volterra (1509/66)
TAPESTRY ROOM
Flemish tapestries and frieze of Baldassarre Peruzzi
RED SALON
Frieze painted with scenes of the “Foundation of Rome” by Giulio Pippi aka Giulio Romano (1499/1546)
In addition heavenly hall and reception room
CHAPEL OF St. PHILIP NERI
On the second floor
Here St. Philip Neri (1515/95) on the 16th of March 1583 resurrected for a short time the fourteen year old Paolo son of Fabrizio Massimo. After he confessed, he asked to die to join her sister who had died a few days before, so St. Philip Neri blessed him and Paul died again
Every March 16th a religious ceremony takes place here and the building is open to all
“Miracle of St. Philip” by Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio (1552/1626)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

MASSIMO PALACE - NATIONAL ROMAN MUSEUM (twelfth part)

BASEMENT - Large Coins Collection
Also Savoy Collection and Goldsmithing Section, with jewels, gems and female toiletry items almost all from FUNERARY KITS including:
“Necklace and earrings in gold” end of sixth or fifth century BC from Fidene
“Gem of Aspasios with Athena Parthenos” first century BC, carved on red jasper
“Silver mirror with relief of the myth of Frisus and Elle” Antonine period, from the estate of Vallerano
She lived in the middle of the second century AD and died at the age of about eight years
She was found mummified in 1964 in a location known as Grottarossa on the Via Cassia with her ivory doll fitted with movable joints in a “Sarcophagus with hunting scenes” inspired by an episode of the Aeneid
The child was buried with a nice tunic in Chinese fabric, a necklace of gold and sapphires, as well as gold earrings and a gold ring
There were also amulets in amber from northern Europe. All objects are exhibited in the same room of the girl
She was mummified with linen bandages impregnated with resinous and odorous substances, a practice quite common in the imperial period in Egypt and the Middle East, but very uncommon in Rome
The brain and the bowel were removed and medical tests showed that she died of a disease of the respiratory system

Friday, June 9, 2017

MASSIMO PALACE - NATIONAL ROMAN MUSEUM (eleventh part)

Second Gallery
Cryptoporticus A 45 m (147.6 feet) long
Third Room
Corridors F and G, Garden L with “Garden adorned with fountains” and Triclinium C
“The decoration indicates clearly the moment of transition which, in the years of the third last decade of the first century BC, takes from a dying second style to the formal and thematic novelties of the third style: choice of monochrome background, lightening of the architectural equipment and drastically reduction of the perspective effects” (Mark Giuman - TMG)
Fourth Room
Fifth Room
“Typical example of third style: end of the multiplication of illusionistic space and decorative system focused, generally, on a main panel positioned centrally, often flanked by smaller figured panels” (Gian Luca Grassigli - TMG)
Cubicles D and E with stucco, including, in the ceiling “Winged Victory holding helmet”
Colorful and Black and White Mosaics of the Imperial Period from the Lazio Region
“Mosaic floor in scaled clypeus with the head of Medusa” second century AD from Via Emanuele Filiberto
“Nile Mosaic” second century AD from Villa Maccarani near S. Saba on the Aventine Hill
“Dionysus and satyrs” second century AD from the area of the Villa Farnesina, where S. Giacomo in Settignano is today
“Mosaic floor with heads of Satyr and Pan” second half of the second century AD from a Roman villa which probably belonged to Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus in Genazzano
“Mosaic floor with bust of Dionysus” third century AD from the Via Flaminia
“Dionysus and a Maenad fighting two Indian warriors” fourth century AD from Villa Ruffinella in Tuscolo
“Busts of the seasons” fourth or fifth century AD from Capannelle
Sixth and Seventh Room
Villa di Castel di Guido of the first half of the first century AD from the site of ancient Lorium
Three walls 5 m (16.4 feet) high with frescoes in the third style of a lobby to a triclinium reconstructed from about 3,000 pieces:
“Mars seated, Eros and Aphrodite”, “Perseus and Andromeda” and maybe “Scene of sacrifice surmounted by trophy weapons”
Eighth Room
Nymphaeum of Anzio with “Hercules sitting on rocks” carved into stone and made of shells, colored stones and glass tiles
Floor mosaics of the Villa di Baccano perhaps property of the Severian family
Large paintings of the late empire
“Sitting Venus or Goddess Barberini” dating back to the time of Constantine (306/337) found in the Lateran Baptistery and, from 1655, in Palazzo Barberini
A clumsy restoration of the seventeenth century added the helmet transforming it into a goddess Rome but it was probably the pictorial representation of the statue of Venus of the Temple of Venus and Roma on the Velia Hill
“Three monumental figures” maybe members of the imperial family
“Charioteer with seahorse” also from the area of the Lateran
Eleventh Room
Marble inlays
“Floral Panels” from the Villa of Lucius Verus
“Head of the sun god in cipolin marble” beginning of the third century from the Mithraeum of S. Prisca
Two marble inlays from the Basilica of Giunio Basso:
“While the story of Hylas and the Nymphs (allusive to the myth of the immortality of the soul: Hylas is rewarded by the nymphs with eternal life) is executed with a classicist purpose and ways, even if pervaded, as it would be, of the renewed Late Antiquity sensitivity, the image of the client meets the needs of self-glorification and exaltation, even adopting the forms of symbolic language, as well shows the front of the chariot, represented at the expense of the realistic rendering of the horses pulling” (Gian Luca Grassigli - TMG)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

MASSIMO PALACE - NATIONAL ROMAN MUSEUM (tenth part)

TOP FLOOR - Frescoes and mosaics from the first century BC to the fourth century AD
ROOM NEAR THE STAIRS
Fragments of frescoes with “Fishes” and “Navigation scenes” about 130 AD from Lungotevere Pietra Papa
First Gallery
Colorful and Black and White Mosaics of the Imperial Period from the Lazio Region
“Mosaics with geometric designs” first century BC from a Villa of Casale S. Basilio
Èmblema with landscapes and masks” second century AD from Priverno
“Mosaic coffered floor with Nikai and Dionysian Masks” end of the first century BC from Villa Ruffinella in Tuscolo
“Geometric mosaic floor with still life” beginning the first century AD from Grotte Celoni on Via Casilina
“Mosaic floor with Nilotic landscape” early second century AD from the Cellae Vinariae Nova et Arruntiana on Lungotevere della Lungara
First Room
Frescoes from Via Graziosa on Esquiline Hill with “Scenes from the Odyssey”
Frescoes from a columbarium on Esquilin Hill of the gens (family) of Statilii Tauri:
“Various iconographic and compositional models are used, the selection of which is motivated by the need for immediate readability of images; thus if the fight scenes are dependent on patterns of the high Hellenistic period, the bucolic images derive stylistically instead from landscape paintings, while the figures of the individual gods and personifications recall classical statuary types. The episode of the masons at work to erect the walls of the city is reminiscent of the realistic genre scenes. The political message that informs the entire composition well fits the Augustan propaganda that every Roman citizen is called upon to feel part of the legendary history of Rome” (Lucio Fiorini)
Villa of Livia Ad Gallinas Albas
Frescoes from the Villa of Livia (Augustus’ wife) at Prima Porta known as Ad Gallinas Albas with “Garden of the Villa of Livia” of the years 30/20 BC, measuring 11.7 x 5, 9 m (38.3 x 19, 3 feet)
It is a room that used to be half buried to avoid the summer heat and it was called paradeisos (paradise). Incredible decoration painted with 23 species of plants and 69 of birds
The villa was so called because of the event of the fall from an eagle in the lap of Livia, during her marriage with Augustus, of a white hen with a sprig of laurel in her mouth
“Following the incident and on the recommendation of the auruspici, the hen and all of her offspring was brought up and a grove of laurels was planted around the villa, from which the branches used for imperial triumphs were gathered. Suetonius notes that the drying of a plant was considered an omen of death and that at the death of emperor Nero all the wood burned down to the roots and all the hens died” (Elena Calandra)
Discovered in 1863 and detached in 1952. The painted plaster was applied on a wall composed of a coating of tiles arranged in five rows, detached from the wall so as to create a cavity that would isolate from moisture
It is a painting of a kind that, as Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli remarked, “can't be found anywhere else”
Villa Farnesina
Discovered in 1879 while working on the construction of the banks of the River Tiber. About half of it was discovered in excellent condition. It was formed by at least two floors, of which only the lower was preserved
It was probably built, according to Hans Gustav Beyen, for the wedding of Julia, the only daughter of Augustus, with his cousin Marcello (son of the sister of Augustus, Octavia) who died at age 19 in 23 BC
The villa was later used by Giulia for her second marriage with Agrippa in 21 BC
In reality the exceptional quality of the frescoes is not in itself a sufficient argument in favor of demonstrating that it was an imperial home. Perhaps it was painted by Studius (or Ludius) who, according to Pliny, was specialized in this type of paint even though his typological schemes were more extensive

Monday, June 5, 2017

MASSIMO PALACE - NATIONAL ROMAN MUSEUM (ninth part)

Thirteenth room - Severian Dynasty (193/235)
“Second of the four types of portraits recognized for Septimius Severus: it is one of the type known as 'of the adoption' assignable to 196, the year in which the emperor, who in reality was imposed after a civil war, did surreptitiously adopt himself, declaring himself the son of Marcus Aurelius and brother of Commodus. Fiction went even further: the portraits of that year echoed those of his predecessor, technically and stylistically, and even in a generic physiognomic assimilation” (Elena Calandra)
Colossal head of “Severus Alexander (222/235)” from Ostia
“Sarcophagus with Muses” from Villa Mattei maybe dating to the year 280
“Sarcophagus of Acilia” dating to about 238 according to Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli, who identified the young man with short hair as Gordian III ascended the throne at age 13, with his parents close to him
According to others it is a processus consularis procession for the entry into office of a consul
It was found in 1950 in Palocco and it is in the shape of a lenòs, vat of wine, in allusion to the harvest after death
“Sarcophagus of the Annona” about 270 from Via Latina with dextrarum iunctio and allegorical figures related to the activity of high official in charge of the Annona's office (the provision of food) of the deceased Senator
“Sarcophagus of Marcus Claudianus” about 330 with stories from the Old and New Testaments
“Christ the Teacher” according to Paribeni it is the oldest sculpted depiction of Christ, while Barrera reckons it is the image of a young man in the iconography of the sitting philosopher
“Crater with Madonna nursing”, if it is really the Virgin Mary, it would be one of the earliest images of her existing in the world
“Portrait of a mature person” of the period of Gallieno from Ostia
“Portrait of a charioteer” of the period of Gallieno from the area of the Chiesa Nuova
“Vespasian” from Minturno
“Vespasian” from Ostia
“Titus”
“Vespasian from the Tiber” from the area of Via Giulia, perhaps reworked from a portrait of Nero of whom the sideburns remain
“Nerva” from Tivoli
“Domitian” from Latina
“Julia as a matron” first century AD, twelve year old daughter of Titus found in the Hospital Fatebenefratelli
Female portraits:
“Julia Domna” wife of Septimius Severus
“Plautilla” wife of Caracalla
“Etruscilla” wife of Decius (249/251)
“Salonina” wife of Licinius Gallienus (253/268)
“The artistic quality overall is very high, as reflected by both the accurate rendition of the hairstyle and the exact execution of the eyes, enlivened by the pupil as a pelta. The work is fully in the Renaissance of Gallienus, characterized by a design language modeled on the classical one, but in reality permeated with the strong realism typical of the portraiture of the middle years of the third century” (Elena Calandra)

Friday, June 2, 2017

MASSIMO PALACE - NATIONAL ROMAN MUSEUM (eight part)

Eighth Room - Mythological Cycles
“Torso of Minotaur” from Via S. Tommaso in Parione
“Group of Achilles and Penthesilea” second century AD from Settebagni from a Hellenistic original of about 170/160 BC
“Manly torso with chlamys” representing Odysseus stealing the Palladium maybe from a Hellenistic bronze original of 197 BC by Nicerato. It was found in Via Margutta
“Mutilated statue of teacher of the children of Niobe” early second century AD from a group of Niobids
“Actor disguised as Papposilenus” second century AD from Torre Astura
“Double herm of Dionysus” of the Hadrian period from Via Sallustiana
Tenth Room - Ships of Caligula (37/41) in Nemi
“Protomes” including one with the head of Medusa
Eleventh Room- Historic Celebrations
“Headless statue with breastplate”
“Relief of the victory of Actium”
“Relief of Terracina”
Twelfth Room - Sarcophagus of Portonaccio
Incredibly epic and detailed “Sarcophagus of Portonaccio” with battle between Romans and barbarians
On the lid “Four scenes from the life of the deceased”
On the sides “Barbarians ask for mercy and crossing of a bridge of boats by Roman soldiers with barbarian prisoners” 180 maybe of Aulus Julius Pompilius one of the generals of Marcus Aurelius
“Strong is undoubtedly the parallelism with the reliefs of the Column of Marcus Aurelius: in fact this sarcophagus shares with the column the expressiveness of the characters represented at the limits of the disintegration of form, according to a design concept, due to the exasperated use of the drill, which would fully affirm itself in the third century” (Elena Calandra)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

MASSIMO PALACE - NATIONAL ROMAN MUSEUM (seventh part)

Seventh Room - Divine Figures
Maybe inspired by the model of the Hellenistic Tyche of Antioch, personification of the city, the work of the Eutychides in about 290 BC
According to Filippo Coarelli it is a Hellenistic work of the second century BC: Thetis, mother of Achilles has just left the weapons his son requested and she is now about to take flight
The son Achilles would be the so-called Ares Ludovisi in Palazzo Altemps with which this statue formed a single group that adorned the Temple of Neptune in today's Jewish ghetto in Rome
Both statues were placed on a pedestal identified with the Altar of Domitius Enobarbus fragments of which are now both in the Louvre and in Munich
Extraordinary “Dionysus from the Tiber” second century AD in bronze, copy of the original of the fifth century BC maybe by the workshop of Phidias known as Woburn Abbey type
It was found in the Tiber in 1885 during the foundation of a pylon of the Garibaldi Bridge
“The pose of the body is still under the influence of Polycleitos, while the slight movement of the head and the sinuous contour line of the flanks reveal the knowledge of works by Praxiteles. (...) Zanker believes it is derived from the so-called 'athlete of Stephanos', a classicistic Roman creation of the first century BC to which the hairstyle was added with long locks of wavy hair. The work would be therefore an eclectic creation of the imperial period, a reflection of the classical tastes of the time” (Brunella Germini)
“Sleeping Hermaphrodite” copy from the original by Polycles found in the area of the Opera Theater
Hermaphrodite was born from the union of Hermes and Aphrodite, and was loved by the nymph Salmacis who, once she was rejected, prayed to the gods so that they would be indissolubly united: the prayer was answered literally and they were merged into one being half man and half woman
“The complex twisting movement of the figure is a compositional motif typical of the figures of the late Hellenistic period. Another aspect revealing of the period of composition of the work is its visual impact, i.e. the possibility to be understood in different ways depending on the point of view” (Brunella Germini)
“Apollo Chigi” second century AD from Castelporziano
“It is recognizable as a classical type of work that is inspired by a Greek original in bronze, dating from the fourth century BC. The presence of adult and ephebic features and the contrast between the sharp forms of the body and the chiaroscuro hair in curls are to be considered variations experimented within the eclectic style. As a whole, these features occur in the statues of Antinous and are likely to date the work to the second century AD” (Eleonora Ferrazza)
“Black acrobat” from Via Nomentana
Two “Eros bending the bow” second century AD from an original in bronze by Lysippus, one of which from Gabii in Parian marble
“Marching Diana with quiver” second century AD from the Villa dei Quintili
“Statuette of an actor dressed as a woman” second century AD
“Papposilenus” mid-imperial reworking of the so-called Resting Satyr by Praxiteles (about 395/326 BC)
“Relief with maenad and goat” of the early second century AD, found in 1921 in Via Statilia, where the Horti Lamiani used to be
“Relief with sacred-idyllic landscape” of the second half of the second century AD, found in 1906 in Via del Quirinale
A bucolic scene beautifully frames Pan with his flute near a small temple with a statue of Diana the huntress and the myth of Actaeon attacked by dogs represented in the pediment
“Dionysus Sardanapalus” from the Appian Way formerly brought to Weimar by the Nazis to make the icon of Nietzsche-Dionysos conceived by the philosopher Walter Otto and returned to Rome in 1992
“The type, of which more than ten replicas are known, derives its name from the inscription 'Sardanapalus' visible on the Vatican replica, inscribed by the rich owner of the villa in which it was found. He probably associated this sumptuous image of the God to the one of the rich Sardanapalus, Assyrian king famous for his opulent and dissipated costumes, as well as the fact that he used to wear women's clothes” (Brunella Germini)
“Headless Apollo playing a lyre” second century AD from the Villa dei Quintili

Monday, May 22, 2017

MASSIMO PALACE - NATIONAL ROMAN MUSEUM (sixth part)

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