Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Museo Gregoriano Profano
Founded in 1844 by Pope Gregory XVI Cappellari (1831/46) in the Lateran Palace
Transferred here by the will of John XXIII Roncalli (1958/63), but only opened in 1970 in the new wing designed by the brothers Lucio (1922) and Fausto Passarelli (1910/98)
Entering on the right "Bust in marble of Pope Gregory XVI" founder of the Gregorian Profane Museum and "Bust in cast iron of Pius IX" founder of the Pius Christian Museum
The majority of the works was found in the early nineteenth century in the area of the papal state. The intent in this museum is philological: sculpture shown here has no later additions or arbitrary "completions" like most of the statues kept in the rest of the Vatican Museums
"There is no doubt that it was Greek art to determine the formation of rules and aesthetic principles that are a constant reference for the subsequent evolution of Western art" (Andrea Pomella)
"Stele of the Gymnast" about 450 BC Attic sepulchral relief found in the Esquiline Quarter in the Horti of Maecenas
Documented in 1527 in the garden of the palace of Cardinal Cesi in Rome, in the seventeenth century it passed to the nearby church of S. Lorenzo in Piscibus where in 1701 it was cut in two: the bottom became the manhole of the ossuary of St. Nicola's devotees and the top became a manhole of the sewer. It was recomposed in 1902
It is one of five steles found in the same area of the Horti of Maecenas and probably these valuable works, admired already in Roman times as true "antiques", must have recreated a romantic cemetery, pictured on the model of the Athenian Kerameikos and in the intention of Maecenas it must have been a tribute to the world of classical Greek culture
The deceased athlete hails while a small boy in front of him holds a strigil and a aryballos (a metal scraper small vase with globular body) for the oil with which athletes used to clean themselves. The image exudes a sense of deep sadness for the contrast between death expressed by the object itself, a funeral stele, and the life of the young athlete represented with a perfect ideal Greek body
"Three pieces of sculptures from the Parthenon" early IV century BC: heads of Athena's horse from the west pediment, destroyed in 1687, of a boy with a basket from the Panathenaic procession in the north frieze and of a bearded man, probably Erechtheion from one of the ninety-two metope in the south side
"Head of a mule" early IV century BC
"Head of Athena" about 460 BC. It was part of an acrolito, a statue with the exposed parts of the body in marble and the rest in wood covered with metal, perhaps gilded bronze. Traces of material are left that were used to make the statue multicolored: chalcedony (microcrystalline quartz in compact masses) for the eyeballs, bronze foil for the eyelashes and glass paste for the pupils. The holes in the head were used for the supports of the helmet
"Fragment of a relief with a knight" Boeotian art from about 440/430 BC
"Three male figures" end of the fifth century BC
"Relief with knight" Attic art about 400 BC
"Female Figure" top part of a third century BC funerary stele
"Seven reliefs" from the fifth to the second century BC
"Group of Marsyas, body and head of Athena" copy of a bronze group by Myron of Eleutherae (about 500/440 BC) of about 460 BC placed at the entrance of the Acropolis in Athens. The beautiful fragment of the face is finished in plaster
The original appearance of the group can be reconstructed from the descriptions of Pausanias and Pliny and also from coins which reproduce it
Marsyas was a Silenus, a mythological character with a tail, ears and hooves of a horse, a native of Phrygia, a region of nowadays Turkey. One day he stumbled upon the double flute which Athena had discarded, after having cursed it, having noticed that she ridiculous and ugly, with swollen cheeks, as she played it
The Silenus instead became aware of his abilities and wonder evoked in all who heard his music. Convinced at this point that he was so good to compete with the gods, he accepted Apollo's challenge in a musical competition. The Muses, by decision of the god, would decide the winner
The first round was even, so the god proposed to compete playing and singing simultaneously. Being impossible to sing for anyone playing the double flute, the competition was inevitably won by Apollo, who, playing the lyre, could also sing
The punishment for Marsyas was terrible: he was hanged from a tree and skinned alive. The gods had punished the one who dared to confront them, thus becoming guilty of arrogance
The moment of discovery of the flute is brilliantly frozen by Myron, expressing emotions entirely human in an entirely mythological context
"The ability to compose different moods in harmony and lightness of accents is one of the greatest virtues of Myron, in whom it can be perfectly detected the emergence of new values that consider heroism the ability to live an earthly life with full consciousness" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
"Myron appears to be still tied to archaism, his analytical nude is contracted, his rhythm, which at first glance may seem singularly complex and evolved, is still connected to drawing patterns; but this transferring movements born as drawings to the statuary will be fruitful of results, and this study of new rhythms, which leads him to select particular subjects and to conceive his figures in an instantaneous and unstable movement, testifies to the originality of his artistic temperament" (Enciclopedia Treccani)
Various heads including the fragmentary basalt one called "Idolino" copy of an honorary Polyclitean statue about 440 BC representing a young winner in athletic games
"Statue of Sophocles" from the bronze original executed by the sons of Praxiteles, Cephisodotus and Timarchus in about 335 BC for Lycurgus and placed in the theater of Dionysus in Athens
"Portrait of Anacreon" from an original of about 440 BC by Phidias
"Herm of Homer" from an original of about 460 BC
"Head of Sophocles" from the portrait that his son Iophon ordered. It was found in Terracina in 1839
"Relief with Medea and Peliades" neo-Attic copy of the first century BC from an original of the fifth century BC, as well as the "Triangular base with reliefs of Bacchus"
"Colossal statue of Neptune" neo-Attic work of the first century BC from an original of the fourth century BC
"Relief with Menander and Comedy" first century BC with Menander amiably discussing with the muse
"Mosaic" with a dining room floor unswept
Reconstruction of the "Tomb of Vicovaro" about 30/40 AD. It was round and twenty marble blocks with ox skulls and festoons are present here
"Top part of a statue of Artemis" from the original in Severe style
"Headless statue of a woman with tunic" from an original of the fifth century BC
"Torso of a statue of Athena" from an original of the fourth century BC
"Two statues of Aurae" personifications of the winds, neo-Attic Hellenistic works of the first century BC from an original of about 400 BC. The drapery was carved in an extraordinarily virtuosic way
"Chiaramonti Niobid" found in the 1500s at Villa Adriana, copy of a Hellenistic group of the second century. BC, maybe by Praxiteles or Scopas, according to Pliny the Elder
The name is due to the fact that it was originally kept in the Museum Chiaramonti
Niobe, mythical queen mother of seven sons and seven daughters, the Niobids, dared to boast of being more prolific than Leto who only had two children, and for this she was punished by the very children of Leto, Apollo and Artemis who killed with arrows all of the fourteen Niobids
"Head of a Muse" from an original by Praxiteles of the fourth century BC
"Torso of a statue of Diana" from an original of the fourth century BC

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