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

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