Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Gabinetto delle Maschere

It was built using ancient materials for Pius VI Braschi (1775/99) of whom there is a bust just outside the front door

At the center of the vault “Marriage of Bacchus and Ariadne” surrounded by “Diana and Endymion, Venus and Adonis, Paris denying Minerva the apple and Paris offering the apple to Venus” 1791/92 by Domenico De Angelis (1735/1804) who also painted the vaults in three rooms of the Borghese Museum

“The style of Domenico De Angelis, influenced by the Carracci remains bound - without its violence - that of his master, Marco Benefial, and passes progressively from a neoclassical to a romantic spirit” (Olivier Michel - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)

In the floor “Four small colorful mosaics” from Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, three with scenic masks, about 60/50 BC, and one with a rural landscape, about 30/20 BC, made with the incredible technique known as opus vermiculatum. These four mosaics decorated an older villa and were reused in the so-called Imperial Palace in Hadrian’s Villa more than 150 years later

From the right:
“Sabina, wife of Hadrian in the guise of Venus Victrix with apple in hand” beautiful restored sculpture, the original copy of the famous Greek sculptor Arcesilaus
The extremely sexy wet nude-look contrasts with the expression of melancholy and frigidity that Sabina has in all her portraits

Perhaps she could not help but show her disappointment of her relationship with her husband, the emperor Hadrian (117/138) who desperately loved the Turkish boy Antinous and was probably even indifferent to the seemingly, at least in this statue, irresistible beauty of his wife

“Aphrodite Bathing” small copy of the squatting Venus of Doidalsas

“Draped Dancer or Bacchant” in Pentelic marble with an ivy wreath on the “Tombstone of Cecilia Magna”
This dancer was one of the favorite statues of the father of neoclassicism Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717/78)

“Aphrodite of Cnidus” one of the best copies from the original by Praxiteles (about 395/326 BC) of the fourth century BC

  “The right hand is brought forward to cover the groin, in a gesture of apparent modesty, which makes it feel seduction even better, tied to a moment. To attract the attention are the soft passages between the levels, the absence of sudden movements and the gloss surface of Pentelic marble. The same principles of delicacy, suppleness of the shape, shine and softness of the levels, always reappear as fundamental features of the art of Praxiteles, so that he became famous as the artist who, more than any other, expressed in his works the charis, grace” (Giorgio Bejor)

“The Three Graces” mythic projections of Joy, Beauty and Grace from a Hellenistic original

Beautiful “Square Cup” in “rosso antico” marble (quarries are near Matapan Cape in Greece)
Famous “Dung Chair” in “rosso antico” marble the original use of which has been much debated by scholars
It was probably used as a toilet in antiquity by members of the imperial families or by the emperors themselves, since porphyry was associated exclusively to them
This chair, along with a similar one, was used by the popes as the throne during the ceremony of taking possession of the cattedra (throne) in the Basilica of St. John Lateran
The chair was popularly associated with the legendary female Pope Joan who would reign in the year 853/855. Legend has it that, to avoid a repeat of the election of a woman, each new pope was subjected to a thorough examination while sitting on this chair to make sure it was not a woman disguised
According to Cesare D'Onofrio however the use of the dung chair was exclusively religious: the birthing chair would have symbolized the mother Church who gives eternal life to his children
Beautiful “Statue of Drunken Satyr” in “rosso antico” marble with eyes still glazed. It was found in Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli
On the right there is access to the LOGGIA SCOPERTA (open loggia) which connects the Cabinet of the Masks with the Small Room IV of the busts

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