Saturday, May 31, 2014


The surface of Vatican City, the smallest independent state in the world, is only 0.44 km (109 acres), 7.8 times smaller than Central Park in New York
The maximum altitude above sea level of Vatican City is 77 meters (253 feet)
"At the time of the kings of Rome, and yet in the Republican period, there was the Ager Vaticanus: a territory that stretched for about eight miles along the right bank of the Tiber, starting north from the Valchetta Brook (the ancient Cremera) to south where the Janiculum Hill is, or slightly beyond it" (Paolo Liverani)
The inhabitants of Vatican City in 2011 were 799 of which 572 citizens: 110 Swiss Guards, 43 lay and the rest all members of the clergy
The about 3,000 lay workers in the Vatican live in Italy and they are all Italian citizens
Vatican City includes the so-called Apostolic Palaces also known as Papal Palaces or Vatican Palaces, official residence of the Pope in Vatican City
However popes had lived for about 1,000 years in the Lateran Palace in Rome and next to the Basilica of St. Peter there was just a temporary dwelling, used by popes to rest during the periods of the ceremonies in the Basilica
"The history of the basilica was determined by the choice of Pope St. Symmachus (498/514), who, having to fight against an anti-pope, decided to move his home to the Vatican. Near the atrium of the basilica he had living spaces (episcopia) built for himself and for the clergy, beginning a papal residence. Probably he was also concerned with the completion of the atrium and the stairway facing the campus, near which he arranged accommodation for pilgrims (habitacula pauperum), as well as a fountain. The pontiff was also perhaps responsible for the transformation of the road that led from St. Peter's Basilica to the Mausoleum of Hadrian with a covered colonnade (porticus Sancti Petri), of uncertain date" (Christof Thoenes)
The first pope who decided to live permanently in the Vatican was Niccolò III Orsini (1277/80) who had a new residence built there, close to the area of the city under the influence of his family, the powerful Orsini
After the exile in Avignon in the fourteenth century, the popes returned to Rome in 1420 with Martin V Colonna (1417/31) and began to settle in the Vatican, even though Martin V himself, from 1424 to his death in 1431, lived in the fortified Palazzo Colonna where now Piazza Ss. Apostoli is, the palace of his family, rival of the Orsini and equally powerful
Eugene IV Coldumer (1431/47) was a friend of the Orsini and lived in their properties using S. Lorenzo in Damaso for his court, except of course for the nine years 1434/43 during which he was forced into exile in Florence and Bologna due to the prevalence in Rome of the Colonna party
It was only with Nicholas V Parentucelli (1447/55) that the Vatican was chosen as the permanent home of the popes for good. He was a humanist pope and wanted in the Vatican a beautiful Renaissance court. He renewed the Basilica of St. Peter and built new rooms in the Vatican Palace
Many popes, from the end of the sixteenth century onwards, preferred to live in the Quirinal Palace which was the papal seat from 1592 with Clement VIII Aldobrandini (1592/1605) until 1870 when it became the residence of the Savoy kings (278 years!)
The Apostolic Palaces include the actual Apostolic Palace, current residence of the pope, the government offices of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican Museums, the Vatican Library in addition to more than 1,000 rooms including the Sistine Chapel, the Sala Regia (Royal Hall) and the rooms painted by Raphael
The approximate and unofficial total number of rooms in the Apostolic Palaces is about 12,000
In 1929 with the birth of Vatican City and the signing of the Lateran Treaty the Vatican's ownership of the works of art in its territory was recognized by the Italian State, provided only that it would guarantee access to scholars and visitors, as stated in the Article 18 of the Concordat between the Holy See and Italy
The Vatican Museums include a huge amount of artwork that lined up would form a line about 8 km (5 miles) long
In 2011 the Vatican Museums were visited by 5,078,004 people, even more impressive if one considers that the second most visited museum in Italy (technically the first, as the Vatican Museums are not in Italian territory), the Uffizi in Florence, had about 1,500,000 visitors
"In a space probably just a little higher on the hill than the present basilica, there was a sanctuary dedicated to Magna Mater Idaea, the Great Mother of Mount Ida, also known under the name of Cybele. The cult is attested at least since the beginning of the second century AD. (...) The structures of the sanctuary were not found, but traces remain in the written sources and in a large number of inscriptions on altars reminiscent of a peculiar rite celebrated here, the taurobolio, the sacrifice of an ox to the goddess. (...) Among the followers of Cybele the sanctuary was so famous that the term 'Vatican' was used to indicate in general a sanctuary dedicated to the goddess, as well as the name 'Capitolio' would have indicated a temple dedicated to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Juno and Minerva, named after the Capitoline Hill, which housed the most famous temple in Rome dedicated to these deities" (Paolo Liverani)
1996/2000 by the Studio Passarelli for the Jubilee of the year 2000
"Porta Nuova (new door) of the Vatican Museums" 2000 Cecco Bonanotte (1942) in bronze with the theme of Creation, consisting of 208 square panels
The new "White spiral ramp" is inspired by that of the Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, who, in turn, was inspired by the exit ramp of the Vatican Museums by Giuseppe Momo in 1932, a few meters away from the new ramp, in a very interesting dynamic inspirational rebound
At the center of the atrium controversial sculpture "Crossing the Threshold" by Giuliano Vangi
ON THE WALLS extraordinary ancient Roman mosaics including "Mosaic of ships and port maybe on the Tiber" first century BC from a villa on the Via Ardeatina formerly used as the floor of one of the Raphael Rooms
Mosaic "Justice and Peace" 1940 by Massimo Campigli (1895/1971)
At the foot of the white ramp on the right copy of the statue of "August from Prima Porta" painted for the exhibition "Colors of White" held in the Vatican Museums in 2005
"In ancient Rome, the most important public monuments and statues were polychrome, colored marbles were used coming from different places, white marbles were used as part of a complex interplay of colors, and stucco sculptures were painted with fresh vitality. However it has become commonplace to identify the "classical world" with the transparency of white marble, and this simply because the sculptures for the most part have lost any trace of the colorful surface of which were covered, also because of the painting and decoration of buildings and rooms relatively little is preserved. Everything in the ancient world was colored" (Eugenio La Rocca)
"Base of the Column of Antoninus Pius" (138/161) 161 with an apotheosis of Antoninus Pius and Faustina Major with a winged genius and personifications of Rome and of the Campus Martius
On the two shorter sides there are two decursii, parades of knights who used to circle around the ustrinum (funeral pyre) three times during the funeral
It was built by Antoninus Pius' sons, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, in the Montecitorio area. It was found in 1703 and restored in about 1840 by Giuseppe Fabris
The Column of Antoninus Pius in red granite was destroyed in 1705 by Francesco Fontana during transport from the monks' orchard in which it had been found to Piazza Montecitorio. Reduced in slab it was used in 1792 to restore the Obelisk of Psammetichus II now in front of Palazzo di Montecitorio
"Small compositional details bring out the composition from its apparent classicism: the fact that the left wing goes beyond the edge of the bottom, or that the shield of the figure of Rome protrudes outside the edge, or that the drapery extends beyond the bottom edge base, are all hints of a ferment of expression richer in movement and color that breaks up the classicist style. In the 'decursio' in the shorter sides there are the plebeian ways of art, foundation of the Roman historical reliefs, reappearing here in a formal expression entirely new, violently contrasted between darkness and light, almost in an Baroque style" (Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Room of the Philosophers
In the walls important ancient reliefs including "Front of a sarcophagus with the transportation of the body of Meleager" a source of inspiration for the creation of Raphael's "Deposition" kept in the Galleria Borghese
Many of those identified are purely reconstructive, having been made much later than the lifetimes of the characters portrayed
"Herm of Euripides"
Numerous portraits of "Homer"
"Herm of Socrates" replica of the so-called type B, a posthumous portrait probably copy on the famous bronze statue by Lysippus (about 370/300 a.C.) erected in Athens
Maybe "Cicero" Augustan copy of an original of the years 60/50 BC in Greek marble on a modern bust. It is a portraitknown in at least seven replicates
"Double herm of Epicurus and Metrodorus" teacher and student of early second century AD from the original of about 270 BC. It was found in the portico of S. Maria Maggiore
At the center of the room "Statue of a philosopher" with head taken from a different statue
Main Hall
Decoration of the original walls and COFFERED CEILING in gilt wood of the seventeenth century with central coat of arms of Innocent X Pamphili (1644/55) patron of the completion of the building
Recent renovations have restored the colors of surfaces, highlighting the richness of composition
PORTAL by Filippo Barigioni (about 1680/1753) as an arc, with two beautifully made winged Victories
At the center of the hall five colored marble statues:
Two outstanding "Centaurs" by the Academy of Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli in gray morato marble from Laconia (Greece), signed by Greek artists Aristeas and Papias of Aphrodisias in Caria (modern Turkey)
"Zeus" and "Aslepio" in gray morato marble of the Hadrian's period from the original of the fourth century BC. They were found in the Villa of Nero at Anzio
"Hercules Child" in green basalt from the Aventine Hill
"The god is depicted still as a child (...). He has the left hand open and facing up, with the apples of the Hesperides (...). The type of marble, very hard, makes its working very dry: the muscles are well marked (abdomen or thighs), but overall volumes remain flat and bloodless" (Annalisa Lo Monaco)
In the walls:
Shelves with busts of emperors and private people, including "Hadrian" Luni marble from Hadrian's Villa
By the walls:
"Omphalos Apollo" from the original by Kalamis of the years 480/460 BC. In one of the most intact copies stored in Athens there is the omphalos, or rock covered by network, worshiped at Delphi
"Both the face of the god, with a benevolent expression, and his hair style braided tight around the head, are elements that indicate the transition from the Severe style to the Classic style" (Capitoline Museums Guide)
"Apollo of the Kassel type" early second century AD in Pentelic marble, from the famous original by Phidias (about 490/430 BC), the Apollo Kassel
"In the hands were originally a bow and arrows (left hand) and a sprig of laurel (in the right hand). The work is known to us in more than a dozen replies. The head is ancient, but probably not applicable: in the original version, it was not set to the front, but once on the right, just tilted down" (The Annalisa Monaco)
"Statue of Hadrian as Mars" about 120 AD in Pentelic marble from Ceprano
"Hunter standing with a hare in his hands" about 250 in Greek marble found in 1747 in the area of the Porta Latina (Latin Gate)
"Overall it is a pastiche of the third century AD: the portrait is of a character in the second century, typical of the time of Gallienus; the body is a copy of a Greek original of the mid fifth century BC representing Perseus in the act of raising the head of Medusa" (Capitoline Museums Guide)
"Wounded Amazon" signed by the copyist Sosikles from an original of the fifth century BC by Polykleitos of Argos (about 490/425 BC). It is also known as Amazon of the Sosikles Type or Amazon of the Capitoline Type
"Wounded Amazon" of the early imperial age in Greek marble from the original by Cresyl, found at Villa d'Este in Tivoli
"Female Statue" about 200 AD, of the type known as Modesty of the early Severian period in marble of Luni. Characteristic hairdo due to Julia Domna the wife of Septimius Severus (193/211)
"Pothos" restored as Apollo Citharoedus, reworking of the Pothos by Skopas and of the Apollo Liceus by Praxiteles (about 395/326 AD) of the fourth century BC in Pentelic marble and in marble of Luni (Carrara), found in the gardens of the Quirinal Palace. The revision is attributed to the attic sculptor Timarchides who lived in the first half of the second century BC, founder of a family of sculptors active throughout the second century BC
"Elderly woman" of the early imperial period in Parian marble from original of the Hellenistic period
"The portrayal of older people was a source of a much loved genre in the Hellenistic age: this figure was likely to be part of a composite group, as it seems to be deduced from the gestures of the woman, turned to her right in an attitude of surprise and evident concern for the scene that had to be happening near her" (Annalisa Lo Monaco)
"Harpocrates" the son of Isis and Osiris in marble of Luni from one of the rooms of the substructures of the Pecile in Hadrian's Villa
"The young god is depicted entirely naked, with the characteristic gesture of the index finger to his lips to indicate silence. It is possible that this is a gesture that alludes to the secret and mystic nature of Isis' religion, whose contents could not be detected except to affiliates. (...) In his left hand, just apart from the body, there is a horn. (...) On his hair, on top of a small tuft on the forehead, a lotus flower rises vertically" (Annalisa Lo Monaco)
Imperial couple "Marcus Aurelius and Faustina Minor", immortalized as Mars and Venus. It was found in 1750 on the Isola Sacra at the mouth of the Tiber
"In the composition the selected models are of great prestige: the so-called Ares Borghese for Marcus Aurelius and the Aphrodite of Capua for Faustina. It is possible that the group has been created for the wedding of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina Minor, occurred in 145 AD" (Annalisa Lo Monaco)
"Statue of Athena" in marble of Luni, Parian and Pentelic, from original Athena Parthenos of the fifth century BC by Phidias (about 490/430 BC). It was found at Anzio. The shield has been restored and the head is ancient but not relevant
"Portrait of Marcus Aurelius" on a not relevant loricate statue, about 161
"Portrait of Marcus Aurelius, of the so-called 'type III', recognizable by particular hair curls on the forehead. The portrait, which shows the face of the emperor almost lifeless and inanimate (thick upper eyelid, arched eyebrows), must have been developed over the years between 160 and 161. He is currently mounted on an earlier loricate statue, dating from the early imperial age, decorated with a motif of winged Victories in the act of holding a trophy" (Annalisa Lo Monaco)
"Male statue with not relevant head of Augustus" about 15 AD in Greek marble
"Young Satyr" in Pentelic marble from the original attributed to Praxiteles (about 395/326 AD). It was found in 1701 in the so-called Villa of Antoninus Pius in Lanuvio
Room of the Faun
In the walls a section of brick stamps and collections of inscriptions were inserted in the eighteenth century, framed in panels, including the famous bronze table with the second part of the "Lex de imperio Vespasiani" 69/70 AD
It was an extremely important document with which the Senate gave the power to the emperor Vespasian (69/79). The text was not inscribed, but it was cast with the table
It was discovered in 1347 by Cola di Rienzo (1313/1354), the agitator of the Roman people, when it was used as an upside altarpiece in the Basilica of St. John in Lateran. It was made public by him, and inserted into a wall of the Basilica itself at the center of a fresco depicting the Roman Senate. He translated it then publicly misrepresenting the contents, making it appear that only the Roman people could give power to the emperor. It was moved to the Capitoline Museum in 1576
"If the principate of Augustus is a peculiar and difficult trade-off between different factors constituting the Roman power, Vespasian's principate marks, compared to Augustus', a moment of final consolidation that turns a balance still 'in progress' in what we call 'an institution'. And it changes profoundly its appearance affecting the social morphology of the Empire, so to ensure to it further extraordinary vitality. It is in this context that the Lex de Imperio appears: both a synthesis and a conclusion of a project constructed piece by piece by Augustus himself and consolidated by his successors. And yet it had shown its recurring weakness - highlighting the never resolved dualism between military and civil order - just in the repeated crises occurred during that time. Just until that most bloody year when several legitimate aspirants to the Empire had entrusted to the fate of arms the ultimate decision of the conflict. But, once again, especially after this crisis, the conflict found in the legal form of the Lex de Imperio the necessary solution" (Luigi Capogrossi Colognesi )
At the center "Faun" in rosso antico (antique red) marble of the early second century AD from an original of the late Hellenistic period. It was found as a torso in Hadrian's Villa in 1736. In 1744, twenty-five more fragments were found and assembled by Clemente Bianchi and Bartolomeo Cavaceppi. It was placed at the center of the hall in 1817 and since then it gave the room its name
"Numerous additions in red garnet marble, with evident gray veins, did not alter the structure or the ancient figure. The sculpture attracted the admiration of travelers and cataloguers of the museum since 1746 when it was purchased for the Capitoline collections. (...) The idea of the movement is exceptionally transmitted by both the slight rotation to the right, and the muscles showing a very contracted mass along the back and buttocks, placed on oblique planes" (Capitoline Museums Guide)
"Statue of a child with mask" decorative work intended for displays of fountains and nymphea, from an original of the second or first century BC. There is a beautiful contrast between the rough surface of the mask of a satyr and the glossy softness of the baby's skin
"Statue of a child strangling a goose" of mid imperial period from the original attributed to Boethos sculptor from Rhodes, according to a passage of Pliny
"Sarcophagus with the myth of Endymion" second or third century AD, found under the altar of the church of St. Eustace. The cover is not relevant and dates to the second century AD
"Sarcophagus with the Calydonian boar hunt" end of the second century AD
"Female Bust" about 140/150 AD
"Head of Hercules" first century AD in marble of Luni (Carrara)
"Bust of Pithodoris" of the Hadrian's period in marble of Luni from the gardens of Villa Aldobrandini
Room of the Gladiator
The last room of the oldest museum in the world is also one of the most important, with some of the greatest masterpieces of ancient sculpture:
"Dying Gaul" copy of the first century BC of a group of votive sculptures in bronze (donarium or votive offering) maybe by Epigonus dedicated at Pergamum by Attalus I (241/197 BC) for the victories over the Galatians between the third and second century BC. It was found in about 1623 in the Gardens of Sallust in Rome along with The Galatian Suicide and maybe it belonged to Julius Caesar
Professor Filippo Coarelli believes that Caesar, with the placement of this votive offering in his private residence, wanted to commemorate and glorify his victories against the Gauls of the year 58/51 BC. Coarelli also identified it as belonging to the same group of The Galatian Suicide, now in the Altemps Palace, considering the similarities between the two bases
Other scholars see it as an original from Pergamum. It was initially incorrectly identified as a gladiator, it gave that name to the room and it was always one of the most admired sculptures of the entire museum
"Hermes" about 130/150 AD in marble of Luni. It was found at Hadrian's Villa and is also known as the Capitoline Antinous
"A certain air of melancholy that is primarily seen in the look in his face led to believe that this was a representation of Antinous, considering it was found in Villa Adriana: however, the face does not seem to show a specific intent of portraiture, so it seems preferable to consider it a representation of Hermes as a youth" (Annalisa Lo Monaco)
"Wounded Amazon" aka Amazon Mattei Type from the original by Phidias (about 490/430 BC), created on the occasion of an art contest among the most famous sculptors of the time for the Sanctuary of Artemis at Ephesus. The head is a copy of the Amazon of Polykleitos of Argos (about 490/425 BC) and it was added after 1775. The body was found in the Villa D'Este in Tivoli and it was heavily restored by Bartolomeo Cavaceppi
"Maiden crowned with flowers" so-called Flora of the Hadrian's period in marble from Luni, found in the Pecile of Hadrian's Villa. The identification as Flora is due to the crown of flowers which was in fact sculpted by the restorers. The correct identification is still debated
"Isis" of Hadrian's period in marble from Luni, found in the Pecile of Hadrian's Villa. In the right hand she holds a jug sculpted by the restorers and in the left she has the sistrum, a musical instrument sacred to Isis
So-called "Juno Cesi" second quarter of the second century BC from the Cesi collection, a very important Hellenistic original work in Greek marble. It was formerly preserved in the Palazzo Cesi in Via della Conciliazione
"The high quality of the work, an original of the Pergamum school, it is evident in the rendering of the volume of the chiton's folds on the breasts: the folds almost disappear in a glossy porcelain effect suggesting the soft shapes of the breasts, then thicken in a lively play of light and shade in the treatment of the mantle made out of heavy and dense material. The identification with Juno, already proposed in the early eighteenth century, it is not proven by any certain fact" (Annalisa Lo Monaco)
"Cynic Philosopher" about 140/160 AD in Greek marble from an original of the third century BC of the School of Pergamum. It was found in Lanuvio in the area of the ancient Civita Lavinia
"Near his left foot there is a scrinium, the container of scrolls, useful to identify the man as an intellectual. Some details (such as the lack of shoes, the himation as the only piece of clothing and his messy hair) have contributed to identify him as a philosopher of the cynic school" (Annalisa Lo Monaco)
"Apollo with lyre" of late Hadrian's period in Greek marble from an original by Praxiteles (about 395/326 AD). It was found in the area of the Acquae Albulae near Tivoli
"Head of a man with helmet" late first or early second century AD in Greek marble from Ardea. The beautiful helmet of Attic type could identify him with a strategos (general) or with Mars
"Head of Alexander-Helios" second century AD in grechetto marble from the original maybe of the third century BC
"The fact that the head was radiated, as it is attested by the holes on the headband, refers to a representation of Helios (...). The features of the face allow the interpretation of the original as an image of Alexander the Great assimilated to Helios, stylistically attributed to the school of Lysippus; it has also been suggested that it may be a late hellenistic elaboration of the portrait of the Macedonian" (Maria Grazia Picozzi)
Delightful small group "Cupid and Psyche" about 135/145 from an original of the second century BC, found in the area of S. Balbina on the Aventine Hill
"Satyr at rest" (Anapauòmenos) of the Hadrian's period in marble from Luni from an original of about 340 BC by Praxiteles (about 395/326 AD). It was found in the Villa d'Este in Tivoli

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


More than a hundred statues displayed according to a mostly ornamental taste. The arrangement of the works is roughly the one concocted in 1734 with great erudition by the Marchese Alessandro Capponi at the behest of Pope Clement XII
Hundreds of small walled inscriptions in the walls, coming largely from the columbarium of the slaves and freedmen of Livia on the Appian Way
"Colossal statue of Hercules" second century AD copy from the original by Lysippus (about 370/300 a.C.) of the fourth century BC from S. Agnes' Basilica restored by Alessandro Algardi (1598/1654) who probably changed the statue so that it was transformed from a Hercules Taming the Deer to a more dramatic Hercules and the Hydra. Lysippus had represented in sculpture all the labors of Hercules
"Calyx krater" from the tomb of Cecilia Metella, decorated with an elegant plant motif, resting on a well-head decorated in relief with figures of the twelve gods
"Statuette of Herakles boy strangling the snakes" second half of the second century AD maybe portrait of Caracalla, or of Annius Vero, son of Marcus Aurelius
"Antinous" Hadrian period (117/138)
"Paris" from an original of the fourth century BC
"Faustina Minor" 161/170
"Roman aristocratic woman depicted as Venus" second half of the first century AD from Porta S. Sebastiano
"Roman Matron with son" first century AD from the Vatican
"Marsyas" from an Hellenistic original
"Statue of a wounded warrior" from the 460 BC original "Discus Thrower" by Myron of Eleutere (about 500/440 BC). Only the torso is ancient copy of the Discus Thrower: the modern parts have been added by Pierre-Étienne Monnot (1657/1733) who wanted to turn it into a wounded warrior to be a counterpart of the Dying Gaul
"Leda and the Swan" greek marble copy of the Hadrian's period from an original of the fourth century BC. by Timotheos. Zeus transformed himself into a swan to have sex with Leda and from the unlikely union the twins Castor and Pollux and Helen of Troy were born...yes, from eggs! The theme inspired many painters, from Leonardo da Vinci to Correggio, from François Boucher to Paul Cezanne, from Henri Matisse to Salvador Dali
"Eros stringing the bow" in Parian marble, copy of the first century AD from an original of the fourth century BC by the great Lysippus (about 370/300 a.C.) for the sanctuary of Eros Thespiae in Boeotia. This is one of the best copies among the many existing
"Along with Praxiteles and Skopas, Lysippus (about 370/300 BC) is one of the artists who best interpreted the crisis of traditional values on which the Greek civilization was based until then, as a result of the dramatic events made by the prolonged Peloponnesian War, the attempt to abolish the democratic government by the Thirty Tyrants, the affirmation of the supremacy of Macedonia after the Athenian defeat at the battle of Chaeronea in the year 338. As one can easily understand, artistic expression, in its various forms, could not help but acknowledge the tensions of the historical moment and give them visible form in a modulation characterized by the centrality of the human figure in motion, rather than the static harmony of forms typical of the previous period" (Marinella Testori)
Statue of "Old drunk woman" from original by Myron of Thebes the Younger third century BC. It was found in 1620 in the Basilica of St. Agnes. The stark realism of the representation is typical of the interest of Hellenistic art for the most distant aspects from the ideal of classical beauty and for the reality of every day life
"Monumental sarcophagus with scenes of Amazons" second century AD, topped by a "Head of Dionysus"
"Head of Apollo" from original of the fourth century BC
"Head of a goddess" maybe a Hellenistic original, with sunken eyes that were to be made of precious stones as it was typical of many ancient statues
Room of the Doves
In the center "Statue of a Young Girl with Dove" second century AD from a Hellenistic bronze original of about 240/220 BC
"In the base at the binding of the body and the head of the snake, added that in 1800s, there was originally a small pet (a cat or perhaps more likely a dog). The Capitoline statue has lost its original funeral or votive connotation represented by the theme, to clothe a playful and light one like other genre compositions produced during the middle and late Hellenistic period involving children or youths" (Francesco Paolo Arata)
The young girl with dove is on the "Capitoline Tripod with three griffins sitting" second century AD in Luni marble (Carrara) from Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli
On the shelves about 80 PORTRAITS OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE FIGURES including:
"Portrait of a woman with curly hair" early third century AD
"Head of Isis" mid-second century AD on a bust not relevant. On the head there is a high kalathos empty inside, and decorated with a crescent moon
"Female portrait" of mid Antonine age during which this kind of hairstyle with parted waves, a large central parting and knots at the temples was very fashionable. Perhaps it is the portrait of a sister of Lucius Verus or of his wife Lucilla
"Double herm of Hermes and Athena" second century AD in marble of Luni
"Votive Oscillum with footprint" end of the first or early second century AD found in the Campitelli district. There is an engraved dedication to Isis Frugifera
The Oscilla (swings) were hung as a votive offering on trees during some festivals such as Sementivae Faeriae (sowing parties), or Paganalia, parties of the pagi (rural villages), especially in honor of Bacchus. Since they used to swing in the wind, from the name of these objects the Latin verb oscillare derived, from which in turn the Italian word with the same meaning derived
On the right "Sarcophagus with the myth of Prometheus" third century AD from the area of Porta S. Pancrazio and "Sarcophagus of Geronte with the myth of Endymion and Silene" first half of the second century AD from the area of Porta Ostiense. The large sarcophagus front inserted in the wall opposite the entrance with Triumph of Bacchus is only a cast of the original stolen by Napoleon
Embedded in the wall:
"Mosaic of the Doves" early second century AD found in 1737 in Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli. It was an èmblema (central part of the mosaic floors) maybe copy from Sosos mosaic artist working in Pergamum in the second century BC
"Mosaic of the scenic masks" èmblema of the second century AD from the area of the Baths of Decius near S. Prisca
Display with important inscriptions:
"Iliac Tabula" first century AD marble bas-relief with scenes from the Iliad
"Bronze Tabula of the Fabri Guild of Sentinum" third century AD that assigns the title of patron to Coretius Fuscus
"Bronze inscription with a dedication to Septimius Severus (193/211) from the fire brigade of the Fourth Cohort" 203 from the Aventine Hill
"Senatusconsultum about Asclepiades of Klazomenai and allies" 78 BC the oldest remain of a bronze decree of the senate almost entirely preserved
"Decree of Pompey Strabo" 90/89 BC with bilingual text, Latin and Greek, with which Roman citizenship was granted to the Hispanics knights who had served for the Romans in Ascoli
Cabinet of the Venus
"Capitoline Venus" about 250/150 BC in Parian marble, found in the years 1667/70 in the area of S. Vitale on Via Nazionale, maybe one of the earliest and most faithful copies of what it is called the "Capitoline type" inspired to the Cnydia Aphrodite that Praxiteles (about 395/326 AD) sculpted in about 360 BC for the Temple of Aphrodite at Cnidus
In the world there are about one hundred replicas of this kind of statue
Among the American visitors, one who was greatly impressed was Mark Twain, who admired her so much in the Capitoline Museums in 1867 to devote to her a story called The Capitoline Venus. It is likely that the writer already knew the Venus from a photo of the statue that had appeared in the novel The Marble Fawn published in 1860 by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Room of the Emperors
In the walls eight ancient reliefs, including "Perseus freeing Andromeda" and "Sleeping Endymion" from Hadrian's period
67 PORTRAITS OF EMPERORS AND RELATIVES arranged in chronological order including:
"Young Augustus" (27 BC/14 AD) of the Actium type and "Augustus in full maturity" crowned with a wreath of oak
"Livia" wife of Augustus represented as Ceres
"Agrippina Senior" daughter of Agrippa and Julia who was Augustus' daughter
"Young Nero" (54/68) and "Adult Nero" restored
"Vespasian" (69/79), his son "Titus" (79/81) and his daughter "Julia"
"Nerva" (68/69)
"Trajan" (98/117) and his wife "Plotina"
It is evident the transition from classical composure and idealization of the first imperial period to the definition of the characters in a more individualized and realistic way at the beginning of the second century AD
"Flavian Lady" early second century AD, found in the area of S. Stefano Rotondo, so-called "Bust Fonseca" because it had been donated by Father Giuseppe Fonseca to Benedict XIV Lambertini (1740/58)
Probably one of the craziest hairstyles of all time. It is an extraordinary masterpiece of ancient sculpture, both for the expressive power of the face as well as for for technical expertise in reproducing the incredible hair style
"Adrian" (117/138) and mother-in-law "Matidia" about 147/148 from Villa Adriana in Tivoli, with curious hairdo
Hadrian had deified Matidia and had dedicated her a temple, an extraordinary and curious example of love from a son to a mother-in-law, especially considering the fact that Hadrian openly betrayed his wife Sabina, daughter of Matidia, with the handsome turkish boy Antinous. Hadrian was the first emperor who grew a beard, perhaps for his appreciation of the bearded Greek philosophers
"Antoninus Pius" (138/161) and his wife "Faustina the Elder"
"Marcus Aurelius" (161/180) and his wife "Young Faustina Minor" about 147/148
"Lucius Verus" (161/166)
"Commodus" (180/192)
"Septimius Severus" (193/211) about 200/210, his wife "Julia Domna" and his sons "Geta" and "Caracalla" (211/217)
"Elagabalus" (218/222) about 221
"Decius" (249/251)
"Stylistically, the work stands in the tradition of late Severian portraiture that will be followed until Gallienus' (253/268) time, in spite of being affected by the new expressionistic trends (in the lengthening of the face marked by wrinkles) and in spite of tending to the formal breakup that will be typical the end of the century" (Simona Fortunelli - TMG)
"Gallienus" (253/268)
"Probus" (276/282)
"Diocletian" (284/305)
"Honorius" (395/423), son of Theodosius
At the center of the room there is the "Statue of Helena sitting", mother of Constantine, depicted in a classical model created by Phidias for an image of Aphrodite

Monday, May 19, 2014


Palazzo Nuovo
Project by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475/1564) only for a façade with no building
It was begun by Girolamo Rainaldi (1570/1655) in 1603 for Clement VIII Aldobrandini (1592/1605) 
The work was resumed and completed in the years 1654/55, after a long interval, by Carlo Rainaldi (1611/91) son of Girolamo for Innocent X Pamphili (1644/55)
It was licensed for use to the Guild of the Arts of Wool and Silk and then at the Guild of the Arts of Agriculture
The museum was established in 1734 by Clement XII Corsini (1730/40), who bought the Albani collection of 418 sculptures to which statues bought by Benedict XIV Lambertini (1740/58) were added later
The exhibition, which has remained substantially unchanged to this day, was arranged by the Marquis Alessandro Capponi
This is the first ever public collection of antiquities in the world from which all similar museums drew inspiration and were modeled on
Exedra by Filippo Barigioni (about 1680/1753), a pupil of Carlo Fontana, with "Marforio" the colossal statue of Oceano first century AD, one of the talking statues of Rome on which signs were posted with anonymous phrases, mostly sarcastic, like Pasquino
The name traditionally comes from Martis Forum (Forum of Mars)
It was moved to the Capitoline Hill in 1594 but it was already known in the Middle Ages, when it was described and drawn near the Arch of Septimius Severus, in the Roman Forum
Above "Bust of Pope Clement XII Corsini (1730/40)" the promoter of the museum of sculptures with marble plaque celebrating the opening
In the courtyard "Three granite columns with Egyptianising reliefs" from the early imperial period, probably originally located along the road leading to the main temple to Isis in Rome, the Iseo Campensis
On the sides "Statues of satyrs" second century AD from the Theatre of Pompey formerly exhibited in the courtyard of the Palazzo Della Valle
"Statue of Minerva" second century BC from the original of the fifth century BC Athena Parthenos by Phidias (about 490/430 BC), the main cult statue in the Parthenon in Athens
"Statue of Faustina the Elder" portrayed as Ceres, with remains of gilding
"Group of Polyphemus" mistakenly restored in 1636 as Pan
"Endymion" from original of the end of the fourth century BC
Colossal statue of "Mars" end of first century AD from the Forum of Nerva, maybe part of the Temple of Mars Ultor in the Forum of Augustus and probably reproducing the cult image of the temple itself, which would have been of course be much larger. The lower part is a modern restoration
"Statue of Diana the huntress" from an original of the fourth century BC. "Juno Lanuvina" or maybe Ceres dating back to the early imperial age, from an original of the fifth century BC. It was found in the Vatican area
"Statue of woman with Julia Domna's portrait" with body copy from original of the middle of the fourth century BC and head-portrait of Septimius Severus' (193/211) wife of the beginning of the third century AD
Opposite "Statue of woman with Livia's portrait" 30/20 BC from the Belvedere Palace in the Vatican
Both statues are placed over "Bases with inscriptions of the heirs of Caius Cestius" 18/12 BC from the Pyramid of Caius Cestius
"Statue of Hadrian as Pontifex Maximus" 117/138 from the area of S. Stefano Rotondo
"Draped headless statue" in porphyry marble first century AD
Around the niches many Roman inscriptions are included, most of which are funerary ones
Original Egyptian pieces set up in 1907 by the archaeologist Orazio Marucchi
They were mainly found in Rome in 1883 in the area of the Temple of Isis also known as Iseum Campensis, corresponding to the church S. Stefano del Cacco and surrounding area
In the same 1883 the collection of Egyptian antiquities formerly present in the Capitoline Museums was moved to the Vatican Museum where it still is now
"Caligula (37/41) rebuilt the temple more magnificent than ever, and gave a big boost to the neighborhood that once stood around the Egyptian Iseum. This district was formed by the dwellings of the priests who used to worship, but also artisans and traders, and corresponded - in the area and extent - to a similar 'Roman' neighborhood in Alexandria, where also stood a temple dedicated to Jupiter of the same size as the Iseum Campensis. This indicated the sense of equivalency that Rome had wanted to give Egypt and its former glory. Not vanquished people but nation on a par with Rome, as evidenced by the coin depicting two hands shaking, the Nile's and the Tiber's from the time of Antoninus Pius" (Anna Maria Partini)
"Columns with decorative plants"
"Crocodile" from the Ptolemaic or early imperial period in pink Aswan granite, incarnation of the god Sobek
"Two of Nectanebo II cynocephali" 359/341 BC gray granite embodiment of the lunar god Thoth
"Sphinx in pink granite" 144/30 BC from Via S. Ignazio
"Sphinx of Pharaoh Amasis II in basanite" 568/526 BC found near the apse of S. Maria sopra Minerva. The inscription on the breast of the pharaoh was sufficient for identification, although much of it had been scratched away, maybe by the Persians led by Cambyses II (son of Cyrus the Great and Darius I's father), who conquered Egypt six months after Amasis II's death
"Figured bell-krater" dark gray granite from the Canopus of Hadrian's Villa
"Fragment of capital bell-shaped" in marble first century AD
Small rooms on the ground floor
Epigraphic monuments, portraits and sarcophagi in three small rooms accessible from the Atrium through one door
"Fragments of Roman calendars" that Caesar defined with 365 days
"Minor Fasti" lists of magistrates
"Portrait of a member of the Julio-Claudian family" maybe Germanicus or his father Drusus Major
"Two male portraits" of the fourth century A D
Huge and significant "Attic Sarcophagus with scenes from the life of Achilles" with representations on the four sides dating to the early third century AD. It was found in 1582 or just before near the Monte del Grano between Via Tuscolana and Via Labicana. The quality and beauty of the relief are amazing
"Altar-urn of the builder, Titus Statilius Aper" with writing tools first century AD from the Janiculum Hill
"Funerary relief with three characters" early first century AD
"Base with labors of Hercules" first imperial age
"Aebutii family's funerary stele with measuring instruments" in travertine first century AD
"Cippus of Vettius Agorius Praetextatus" and his wife Fabia Paulina Aconia. He was a prefect of the fourth century AD, one of the last politicians who sought to protect and preserve the ancient Roman religion from the advance of Christianity. He was a priest and started several cults, as well as a scholar of literature and philosophy
"Front of a sarcophagus with lion hunt" third century AD from the Appian Way
"Fragment of a sarcophagus with lion and antelope" in Pentelic marble of the late imperial period. The muzzle of the lion is represented schematically with expressionistically and artificially ferocious expression, but the ribs of the feline are realistically visible
"Statue of a priest in the act of bringing a vessel" with a not relevant female head copy of a Hellenistic original from Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli. The drapery is rendered in an exquisite and extraordinarily realistic way