Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Sala Rotonda

About 1782 by Michelangelo Simonetti (1724/87) who was clearly inspired by the Pantheon

In the floor there is the extraordinary and impressive “Great color mosaic” of the beginning of the third century AD from the Baths of Otricoli in Umbria 80 km (50 miles) from Rome: struggles of Greeks against centaurs and sea and river gods
It is not totally original and it was completed at the time of installation in the room
In the external section “Black and white mosaic” from Otricoli and Sacrofano near Rome

In the center enormous “Monolithic basin” in red porphyry marble, maybe from the Domus Aurea. The circumference is 13 m (42.6 feet)


“Otricoli's Jupiter” end of the first century BC from an original of the fourth century BC
It was restored in 1783 with additions by Giovanni Pierantoni

“It had to be part of an acrolith that hypothetically could be attributed to the cult statue of Jupiter in the Capitolium of Otricoli. (...) The original would have been a model for the statue of the god in Rome, built after the fire that burned the Capitoline Hill in 83 BC” (Eleonora Ferrazza)

“Antinous” from Hadrian's Villa in Palestrina where now is the modern cemetery
It was restored by Giovanni Pierantoni
Here the gay lover of Emperor Hadrian, who died drowned in the Nile is represented as Osiris-Dionysus
On his head there was a crown on which a uraeus (snake) or a lotus flower was added, replaced, in the modern restoration, with a kind of pine cone

“Portrait of Faustina the Elder” about 140 AD, found in 1769 by the painter Gavin Hamilton in the Pantanello area near Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli
It is one of the best portraits of the wife of Antoninus Pius (138/161) deified after her death in 141 AD
It was restored by Giovanni Pierantoni who made the bust

“Statue of Ceres” or maybe Juno, beginning of the second century AD from the original maybe by a pupil of Phidias of 430 BC
It was exhibited in the Palace of the Chancellery and entered the Vatican Museums in 1782 when it was restored by Giovanni Pierantoni. The head is ancient but not relevant

“Bust of Hadrian” (117/138) maybe 140 AD, from Castel Sant'Angelo, which was his tomb. It is known from the middle of 1500s
The portrait appears to be somewhat idealized, and perhaps dates back to after his death. The bust is modern

“Colossal Hercules” in gilded bronze of the end of the first century or early second century AD from a Greek original of the fourth century BC found in 1864 under the courtyard of Palazzo Pio Righetti
It was donated to Pius IX Mastai-Ferretti (1846/78) and restored by Pietro Tenerani (1789/1869), who reinstated it in part using plaster and bronze
It was buried superstitiously because it had been struck by lightning at the Theatre of Pompey, to the decoration of which maybe it belonged, in the area of the nowadays Campo de' Fiori
It had been covered by a slab of travertine marble, on which there was an inscription with the letters F C S (Fulgur Conditum Summanium = buried because hit by lightning) and a sacrificed lamb had been buried with it

“Bust of Antinous” about 130/138 AD. It was found in 1790 at Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli
The peculiar hairstyle of this portrait has been put in connection with the servile origin of the youth

Statue of goddess called “Barberini Hera” mid-second century BC from an original of the fifth century BC by an artist of Phidias' circle
It was part of the Barberini collection and it entered the Vatican collections in 1772 when it was restored and integrated by Gaspare Sibilla (about 1723/82)
In the base there is a relief from a sarcophagus of a child of the late third century AD with an extraordinary “Representation of quadrigas’ races in the Circus Maximus”

“Herm of marine deity” maybe Okeanos 130/140 AD, from the area of Pozzuoli, where it was purchased in 1771
The eyebrows are formed by algae and in the beard there are dolphins that seem to swim

“Galba” (68) represented as Jupiter, believed to be Nerva (96/98)
Only the torso and head are old and they were integrated and processed by Bartolomeo Cavaceppi in 1776 to rework facial features mimicking those of a portrait of Galba, believing it was Nerva
The original statue, however, represented a seated figure, perhaps a deity or a Hellenistic ruler of the first century BC
In the base neo-Attic relief with the “Birth of Erichthonius and Hephaestus”
The myth of Erichthonius is quite complex: according to the account of Apollodorus of Athens, Athena went to the forge of Hephaestus to ask the forging of some weapons. Hephaestus pounced on her, trying to possess her and Athena, determined to save her virginity, fled
In the ensuing struggle, the seed of Hephaestus was scattered on the ground and where it fell, Gaea, Mother Earth, was fertilized, and begat Erichthonius. Athena, however, wanted to raise him in secret anyway

“Bust of Serapis” second century AD from an original of about 320 BC by Briaxis for the Serapeum of Alexandria
It was found in 1771 in the so-called Villa of Gallienus on the Appian Way by painter Gavin Hamilton and sold to the Vatican Museums
He has on the head the characteristic calathos, highly integrated modioi-shaped, a cylindrical container that served as a unit of measurement for grain
In the circlet on the head there are still holes where beams of metal were inserted which made it comparable to the god Helios/Sol as was typical of the operations of syncretism between religions that the Romans made

“Claudius in the act of libation during sacrificial rites” (41/54) depicted like Jupiter with the eagle and the civic crown of oak
It was found in 1865 in Lanuvio where maybe it decorated the theater
In the base there is a rather ruined votive relief with “Hermes, Asclepius, and the Three Graces” mythical projections of Joy, Beauty and Grace
Maybe it comes from the Tiber River, possibly from the Tiber Island where the sanctuary of the god of medicine was
The caduceus of Hermes, a stick with two snakes, which served to guide the souls and is currently symbol of trade was mistakenly confused with the rod of Asclepius, which had only a snake, so that often in the United States is used as a symbol of medicine and in Italy it is also the symbol of pharmacists
The precise meaning of the caduceus remains mysterious

“Portrait of Claudius” which had to be part of an imperial statue seated on a throne representing, however, Caligula (37/41), the nephew of Claudius
Caligula, after being killed, had the damnatio memoriae, the elimination of all images and memories for posterity of the declared enemies of the people of Rome and of the Senate after their death
It can be noticed the double bangs and small size of the face compared to the neck, consequences of the rework of the portrait
It was found in the so-called Basilica of Otricoli in 1779 and restored by Gaspare Sibilla (about 1723/82)

“Juno Sospita” first half of the second century AD venerated in Lanuvium, maybe statue of the temple dedicated to the goddess in the Forum Holitorium, corresponding to S. Nicola in Carcere
It was exhibited in the courtyard of the Palazzo Mattei di Paganica, it was acquired by the Vatican Museums in 1782 and it was restored by Giovanni Pierantoni

“Portrait of Plotina” about 129 from Villa Mattei or Celimontana, wife of Trajan deified by Hadrian in that year
The portrait is on modern bust and was sold to the Vatican Museums in 1770 when it was restored by Giovanni Pierantoni and Gaspare Sibilla

“Bust of a Severan princess” about 210/230 AD maybe Julia Mesa, Julia Domna's sister, the Syrian wife of Septimius Severus (193/211) or her daughter Julia Soemnia mother of Elagabalus (218/222)
The hairstyle, however, identifies her with certainty as a woman belonging to the Severan dynasty
It was found in 1780 in the Quadraro area between Via Appia and Via Tuscolana
The bust is modern and the hair has been restored

Maybe “Genius of Augustus sacrificing” perhaps from Pozzuoli
The vague resemblance to Augustus led to the identification with the Genius Augusti a sort of personal deity of the first emperor of Rome

“Portrait maybe of Plautianus” praetorian prefect put to death by Septimius Severus (193/211) on the advice of his son Caracalla in 205 who had married his daughter Plautilla, later divorced

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