Wednesday, October 22, 2014



1805/08 for Pius VII Chiaramonti (1800/23) under the direction of Antonio Canova (1757/1822) in the gallery (about 300 m - 985 feet - long) known as Corridore della Libraria (Corridor of the Library) designed by Donato Bramante (1444/1514) to connect the Papal Palace with the Belvedere Palace

Fifteen Lunettes

High up on the left “Allegories celebrating Pius VII” 1817 three of which, “Sculpture encouraged and honored by Pius VII” (niche XXV), “Opening of the School of Fine Arts in Rome” (niche XIII) and “Construction of the promenade on the Pincio Hill” (niche IX) are by the great Francesco Hayez (1791/1882)
“Restoration of the arches of Septimius Severus and Constantine” (niche VI) by Luigi Durantini (1791/1857)
“Creation of the Vatican Pictures’ Gallery” (niche XLV) and “Restoration of the Borgia Apartment” (niche VIII) by Giacomo Conca (1787/1852), son of Tommaco Conca and grandson of the great Sebastiano Conca
“Purchase of medals for the museum by Pius VII” (niche XII) is by the Berliner Karl Eggers (1787/1863) who also painted in the Berlin Museum
“Recovery of classic paintings by Pius VII” (niche XXI) by Giovanni Demin (1786/1859) from Belluno in the Veneto region
“Triumph of Religion” by Philipp Veit (1793/1877) the most colorist among the Nazarenes painters
Among other painters who painted lunettes there were Vincenzo Ferreri (1762/1837), Giuseppe Caponeri and Giovanni Colombo

Sculpture Pieces in the Old Wing

The exhibition of the statues is still the original one with the statues densely packed in the long corridor, emphasizing even more the significant amount of works
Between the Old Wing of the original Chiaramonti Museum and the New Wing the works are about 1,000 in total
The odd-numbered niches are on the left, the even ones on the right:

“Sarcophagus of Gaius Iunius Euhodus and his wife Methylia Acte” 161/170 with the myth of Alcestis and Admetus
Alcestis is represented sacrificing her life instead of her husband's. He should have died for having forgotten to make a sacrifice to Diana. Eventually she was brought back to life as a reward for her sacrifice

“Herm of Hephaestus” maybe from original of the fifth century BC by Alkàmenes
Hephaestus was the Greek god of fire and Romans identified him with Vulcan

“Alkàmenes was a Greek sculptor, a native of Athens, or Lemnos, active in the second half of the fifth century BC, pupil and rival of Phidias. Pausanias ascribes to Alkàmenes the whole west pediment of the temple of Zeus at Olympia, which is however in Severe style. They might be his, therefore, only some of the angular figures, in Classical style. (...) He has been credited with the Caryatids of the Erechtheum” (Enciclopedia Treccani)

“Statue of Igea” I century AD from original of the end of the fifth century BC for the head and from the third century BC for the body

“Loricate statue of Antoninus Pius” (138/161) with torso of the second half of the second century AD and head not relevant
Antoninus Pius was born in Lanuvio from a family of French origin (Nimes) and it seems to he had been an excellent administrator of the empire
He had good relations with the Senate of which he expanded the powers and with the Roman people especially after he increased the donations of wheat and added oil and wine as well
He was called Pius for his devotion to his adoptive father Hadrian
Edward Gibbon in the eighteenth century described his reign in this way: “The moment in History during which the human condition could enjoy the greatest happiness”

“He was a handsome man of great wit: balanced and noble, he had a face that expressed unusual poise and intelligence. (...) His appearance had a severe majesty. He was tall, and for this reason, when he began to bend down to old age, he kept himself upright tying his chest with strips of linden wood. Even when he was already advanced in years, every morning, before the courtiers came to greet him, he used to eat dry bread to keep fit. His voice was hoarse and coarse, but not at all unpleasant” (Historia Augusta)

Fragments of relief with the so-called “Aglauridi” of Hadrian's period from a neo-Attic original, including the famous Gradiva (she who walks) made famous by the 1903 novel Gradiva. A Pompeian fantasy by Wilhelm Jensen and by the passion of Sigmund Freud (1856/1939)

“Jensen tells of a young German archaeologist, Norbert Hanold, who sees a relief in a museum in Rome and becomes fascinated. After buying a cast of it that he would always bring with him, he begins to dream: he imagines Gradiva advancing in the streets of Pompeii and he follows her until she disappears into the night of the eruption of AD 79. Awake, he decides to leave for Pompeii, where he will see a girl with the features of the image etched into the marble and, with a happy surprise, he will find out that it is a girl with whom he used to be a partner in games of childhood and forgotten with time. It was Carl Jung who pointed out this novel to Sigmund Freud, who examined the literary event as a psychiatric case. In his essay 'Delusion and Dream in Jensen's Gradiva' (1906) Freud took inspiration from the literary story to explain how external forces can bring to the surface tensions hidden in psychological depths. These are expressed sometimes in the form of delirium, as in the case of the protagonist, who lives an experience between reality and imagination. In turn Freud, a collector of ancient art, visited the Museum Chiaramonti (in a letter he wrote of his 'meeting' with Gradiva) and he bought a plaster cast of the relief on display there, which he hung to the wall of his studio near the famous sofa-bed, on which his patients stretched” (Giuseppe Nicosia)

“Group of Heracles with his child Telephus” from an original of the fourth century BC
Telephus was the son of Heracles and Auge, the daughter of the king of Tegea in the Peloponnese, and he would become king of Mysia in Turkey

“Tomb of Publius Nonius Zethus” (Ollario) of the first century AD with eight conical cavities for funerary urns
Publius Nonius Zethus was a miller and flour dealer as evidenced by the reliefs on the monument with craft objects


“Funerary statue of Cornutus” of the end of the third century AD depicted as Saturn surrounded by children

“Statue restored as Hermes” with torso and head from two different originals of the fifth century BC
“Shepherd Ganymede with the Eagle” second century AD from original of the early Hellenistic period. Ganymede was abducted by Zeus, transformed on the occasion into an eagle
The god, seized with sudden homosexual passion, took him to Olympus and made him his and the gods' butler

“Relief with Mithras sacrificing the bull” found in the Esquiline quarter
Inside a cave Mithras is sacrificing the bull by order of the Sun in the upper left. The Moon in the upper right guarantees the scenario in which cosmic sacrifice is underlined by the seven stars and seven trees above the ceiling of the cave, allusions to the seven planets
“Relief with lion-headed figure” found in Ostia with the statue of similar subject now in the Profane Museum of the Vatican Library
The dark spots are all that remain of the original gilding. This figure of the Mithraic cult with a lion's head and two pairs of wings symbolized the eternal time and the coils of the serpent alluded to the cyclical alternation of stellar motions

“Colossal head of Athena Promachos with painted eyes” of the Hadrian's period from original by Phidias of the fifth century BC
“Silenus with a panther” from a third century BC Hellenistic original
The panther was part with Sileni, Bacchantes and Satyrs of the triumphal procession which, according to the various versions of the myth, accompanied Dionysus around the world

“Portrait of a Roman” second half of the first century BC. It is a portrait of extraordinary and, perhaps, even overemphasized realism
“Portrait of a priest of Isis” with black head shaved and scar typical of the priests of Isis, mistakenly believed to be Scipio Africanus

“Statue of Athena” from an original by an artist of Myron's circle in the fifth century BC

“Eros tending the bow” from the original of the fourth century BC by Lysippus (about 370/300 BC)

“He devoted much attention to detail and was able to find a harmonious accord between the proportions of the body and posture, giving a more natural dynamic to the figure, aimed to reproduce men not as they were, but as they appeared to the eye, thereby affirming the originality of the artistic vision. (...) Such special treatment of the hair, the proportions of small heads compared to lean and slender bodies, with a fundamental organic symmetry, with a refined sense of fine detail. Deep was the influence he exerted on the art of Hellenism” (Enciclopedia Treccani)

“Relief with the Three Graces” (Charites for the Greek, mythical embodiments of Joy, Beauty and Grace) of the end of the first century BC from original by Sokrates of about 470 BC which was in the Propylaea of the Acropolis of Athens
It was found in 1769 in the area of the Hospital of St. John's Lateran

“Dacian prisoner” from the Trajan's period (98/117)
Highlighting the strength of the subjected prisoners was probably a not too subtle reference to the obvious greater force of the Romans winners

“Portrait of a Man with veiled head” Roman art of the first century BC. Veiled head meant in practice covered by a hood which was required when making sacrifices

“Statue of athlete at rest” of the first century BC. Roman eclectic reworking with body that mimics the Apollo Lyceum by Praxiteles

“Statue of Hercules with a club” from an original of the fourth century BC

“Muse so-called Polyhymnia” muse of hymns and mimicry, from an original of the second century BC by Philiskos of Rhodes
This copy albeit with good working in the drapery, pales in comparison to the irresistible beauty of the copy kept at the Centrale Montemartini
“Statue of Artemis the huntress” from two different originals: head of the Colonna Artemis type, torso from original ofthe late fifth century BC
“Stele of the Magister Fabrum Gaius Vedennius Moderatus” from the age of Domitian (81/96) with two machines and implements of war

“Ulysses offering a drink to Polyphemus” first century AD from an original of the second century BC

“Portrait of an unknown woman” of the late Tiberian period (14/37)
“Portrait of an unknown man” third quarter of the first century BC very individualized and with interesting disheveled bangs

“Winter” of the Antonine period (138/192). Female figure lying in a river with fish and water birds captured by cupids

“Fall” also of the Antonine period. Female figure with cupids harvesting
“Relief with meal preparation and dinner over a stibadium” semicircular sofa which in late antiquity replaced the triclinium for meals

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