Saturday, November 29, 2014


Galleria dei Busti


Made under Clement XIV Ganganelli (1769/74) by combining four rooms of the Palace of Innocent VIII Cybo (1484/92) with arches on columns


In the vault panels with “Figures and two peacocks” maybe by Piermatteo Lauro di Manfredo aka Piermatteo d'Amelia (1446-48/about 1506) the author of the blue sky with stars on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, covered by Michelangelo's masterpiece

From the right up “Caracalla” about 212

“It expresses all the pathos and drama of the new absolutist conception of power, to which is no stranger the way of representation of the Hellenistic dynasties, notably that of Alexander the Great. Designed for this purpose are the twisting of the head and the strong tendency of expression. (...) We are seeing a shift away from equilibrium and expression of austerity, that the classical language gave to the face of the sovereign, replaced by a desire for immediate and instinctive expression of energy, almost transcendent” (Simona Fortunella/Gianluca Grassigli - TMG)

“Young Octavian” end of first century BC maybe from Ostia, the only existing portrait of young Octavian later to become Augustus
The identification however is not certain and some scholars identify it as a portrait of one of the two grandchildren and adopted sons of Augustus, Gaius Caesar and Lucius
They were sons of Augustus' daughter Julia, later disowned, and Agrippa
This portrait had a huge success which is testified by the large amount of modern copies produced particularly in the nineteenth century

“Julius Caesar” about 25 BC one of the most beautiful portraits of Caesar, very realistic with wrinkles and sunken cheeks
Despite the veracity of the work, adhering to the stylistic features of Roman art, it remains nevertheless a clear idealized expression, following the common Greek style appropriate to the regime's propaganda

“The model for the creation of this portrait, repeats some of the known patterns in the representation of the Hellenistic rulers: very similar, for example, is the portrait of Antiochus III of Syria, called the Great (late third century BC). The portrait of Caesar is associated with the so-called type II of the portraits of Caesar, also called, on the basis of this and another example in Pisa, “Chiaramonti-Pisa Cemetery type”. This model - which has both realistic tones and a clear idealization - seems to be a replica of a posthumous portrait of the dictator, a “piece of art propaganda” presumably created in the early years of the principate of Augustus” (Giandomenico Spinola)


Vault as in Room I

“Saturn” from original of the end of the fifth or early fourth century BC

“Head of a Warrior” school of Pergamum, from a votive offering of King Attalus

“Menelaus” from the group of Menelaus supporting the body of Patroclus, maybe similar to the famous Pasquino

In the middle of the room “Rectangular base with neo-Attic reliefs” with the visit of Dionysus to Icarius, Eros and Thanatos burning one soul (in the form of a butterfly) and country scenes with Hercules and a goddess


Ceiling “Allegories of the Four Seasons” by Cristoforo Unterberger (1732/98)

In the niche seated statue of “Zeus aka Verospi” end of the third century or early fourth century AD. It is called Verospi because it used to be kept in the Verospi Palace
It is a copy of the cult statue of Capitoline Jupiter and it was found near the Basilica of St. Agnes Outside the Walls
The statue of Jupiter Capitolinus was chryselephantine (made of gold and ivory) and it was destroyed by fire in 85 BC. The next statue had the same fate as it went up in flames in 69 AD

“Mask of Jupiter Ammon” from the original of the early fourth century BC

“Woman praying aka Mercy” maybe Augustus' wife Livia

“Head of Juno” from an original of the fifth century BC

In the lunette over the passage “Fresco with singers” of the 1400s

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Galleria delle Statue

Two-thirds derived from the Palace of Innocent VIII Cybo (1484/92) of about 1487 by Giacomo da Pietrasanta, and one-third built for Pius VI Braschi (1775/99)

“Traces of decorations” on the walls originally made by artists of the school of Bernardino di Betto aka Pinturicchio (1454/1513)

Front half of the vault frescoed with “Round and fake carvings in grisaille style” (a method of painting in gray monochrome, typically to imitate sculpture) by Cristoforo Unterberger (1732/98) from Trent at the time of Pius VI in imitation of the old half

Unterberger directed the work for the copying of the Raphael's Loggias in the Great Hermitage in St. Petersburg for Empress Catherine II

“Eros from Centocelle” or Genius of the Vatican, more likely to be a statue of Thanatos (the god impersonating death) from an original of the fourth century BC
“Athlete” with head not relevant by an artist of the school of Polykleitos of Argos (about 490/425 BC)
“Bust of a marine merman or centaur” Hellenistic art of the second century BC
So-called “Penelope” seated, in Severe style of sepulchral image with head not relevant
Voluptuous and languid “Apollo Sauroctonus” (lizard killer) from the bronze original of the fourth century BC by Praxiteles (about 395/326 BC)

“It represented probably Apollo Alexikakos, freer from disease, the latter symbolized by the little lizard on the trunk. As in his other works, the leaning of the figure on an external element allows for a rotation that highlights the suppleness of the body, accentuating the grace. Knowing how to capture a moment of special grace, apparently secondary in the performance of the myth, in a natural setting, is one of the main features of Praxiteles” (Giorgio Bejor)

“Amazon” from Villa Mattei, maybe from an original by Phidias (about 490/430 BC). It is badly restored, and the head is not relevant
“Muse” badly restored from Tivoli. It is part of the same number of her 'colleagues' in the Hall of the Muses
“Posidippus”, comic poet of the third century BC, and maybe “Menander or Plautus” Roman copies of Greek statues coming from the so-called Area Candidi in Via Cesare Balbo

“Apollo Citharoedus” (playing the harp) with eyes still painted, maybe Peloponnesian art of the beginning of the fifth century BC
“Opellius Macrinus” (217/218), the only authentic portrait of the Emperor who maybe killed Caracalla
“Aesculapius and Hygeia” in Hellenistic style from Palestrina
“Fragment of a group of two Niobids” from an original of the second century BC
“Satyr at rest (Anapauòmenos)” from the original of about 340 BC by Praxiteles

At the center “Sleeping Ariadne” from an original of the second century BC
At the sides the two extraordinary “Barberini Candelabra” of the second century AD from Villa Adriana: in the one on the right relief with “Mars, Minerva and Venus” in the one on the left “Jupiter, Juno and Mercury”
“Hermes Ingenui” (Innocent) of the second century BC maybe so called because the name of the sculptor was Ingenui

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Sala degli Animali


Opened at the time of Pius IV Medici (1559/65) and duplicated in about 1776 by Michelangelo Simonetti (1724/87) for Pius VI Braschi (1775/99) with animal sculptures made from scratch or imaginatively and wantonly restored by Francesco Antonio Franzoni (1734/1818) from Carrara

“He excelled both in the subjects of new inventions and in those inspired by the reinstatement of ancient fragments, of which he often changed the whole original aspect, giving them strongly realistic and almost obsessive and self-indulging connotations. This drama and paroxysm seems to spring from the suggestive reading of the treatise 'On the nature of the animals' by Claudio Eliano. Franzoni's work is unequaled in the achievements of sculpture of all time. The Animal Room was configured as a sort of ghostly bestiary made with a sample of the most rare colored stones from antiquity, in the spirit of encyclopedic cataloging, and ended up being, with his eccentric collection, one of the highlights of the museum, the pride of Pius VI, the generous promoter” (Caterina Napoleone)

In the floor of the side wings “Two colorful mosaic” with still lives in panels of the fourth century AD

“Meleager with dog and boar's head” about 150 AD from the original of the fourth century BC by Skopas
“Colossal head of a camel” formerly the mouth of a fountain
Extraordinary group “Marine Centaur with nereid and cupids” maybe a late Hellenistic original
On the wall two small mosaics with micro tiles of exceptional quality from Villa Adriana in Tivoli: “Bulls attacked by a lion” and “Browsing goats”
“Crab” in rare green porphyry marble