Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Begun in 1598 by Carlo Maderno (1556/1629) and completed in 1618 for Asdrubale Mattei Duke of Giove on the site of some demolished houses of the family
The poet Giacomo Leopardi lived here for five months in 1823 being a relative of the Antici Mattei family, who had inherited the palace
Since 1938 it belongs to the Italian State
In the entrance hall, courtyard and loggia ANCIENT RELIEFS, STATUES and BUSTS from the Mattei collection including “Sarcophagus with stories of the origins of Rome” known as Mattei Sarcophagus on the stairs
The busts of Roman emperors date back to the sixteenth century
The coat of arms of the Mattei family is associated with the eagle of the Gonzaga family: Asdrubale was, in fact, married to Constanza Gonzaga, related to the powerful Habsburg family
“Jacob and Rachel at the source” by Domenico Zampieri aka Domenichino (1581/1641)
“Stories of Joseph Jew” by Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio (1552/1626)
“Stories of Joseph and Potiphar's Wife” by Giovanni Lanfranco (1582/1647)
“Four stories of Solomon” 1622/23 by Pietro Berrettini aka Pietro da Cortona (1597/1669)
“They show his sense of drama, his distinctive compositional style, his attention to archaeological detail, and his strength and clarity in the design of the main protagonists. Individual figures as well as entire scenes seem to foreshadow his later work and the panel with the death of Joab seems an anticipation of the Iron Age painted in the Palazzo Pitti in 1637. Yet, although the style is formed or in the process of training, it does lack vigor and self-confidence as well as the energy of his mature style” (Rudolf Wittkower)
Opened by Harry Nelson Gay, professor of history, a native of Massachusetts who had settled in Italy in the early 1900s to teach at the University of Rome. He collected in his library all publications of interest to the U.S. he could find
The Library is now with over 50,000 books an important record of American culture
In addition, a service of international borrowing offers the possibility to consult the catalog of the most important libraries in the U.S. and ask them to send books and photocopies, with a choice of over sixty million publications


Original building in the fifteenth century. It belonged to the Boccabella family
Completely renovated in late 1600s by Carlo Fontana (1634/1714)
Also known as PALAZZO MASSIMO DI RIGNANO COLONNA after the wedding at the end of 1800s of the heiress Maria Massimo with Prospero Colonna mayor of Rome
The Massimo family split into two branches in the sixteenth century: the Massimo Delle Colonne from the name of the building now on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II in which they still live and the Dukes of Rignano also known as Massimo di Aracoeli whose male line ended
In 1939 one corner of the building was cut off for the opening of Via del Mare
Portal with plant motifs and embattled observatory tower of Duke Mario Massimo built in the early 1900s
In the courtyard FOUNTAIN OF THE MERMAN as well by Carlo Fontana
On the top floor the famous actress Sophia Loren lived for a while

Friday, June 23, 2017


1532/36 Baldassarre Peruzzi (1481/1536) for Angelo Massimo
He built it on a preexisting building at the same time of the adjacent Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne
Also known as PALAZZO MASSIMO DI PIRRO for a statue of Mars found here and incorrectly believed to be an image of Pyrrhus
1877 restored by Luigi Fontana (1827/1908)
On the FAÇADE ON PIAZZA DEI MASSIMI paintings in monochrome “Stories from the Old and New Testament” 1523 maybe of the school of Daniele da Volterra (1509/66) for the marriage of Angelo Massimo
In the palace there was since 1467 the printing of Arnold Pannartz and Conrad Schweynheim, the first ever in Rome
“Some considerations lead rather to recognize it in a house that the Massimo brothers had in the immediate vicinity of Campo de' Fiori, along the Via Mercatoria, obligatory point of passage for Romans and foreigners, and therefore very suitable place for the sale of books produced in series. This same house - a sign of continuity in the use of places for both production and for sale - housed in all likelihood, after Sweynheym and Pannartz two other typographical workshops: the one of Eucario Silber and that of Antonio Blado, located «in field Florae in aedibus Iohannis Baptistae de Maximis»“ (Anna Modigliani - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)
In front of the building in Piazza dei Massimi COLUMN OF THE ODEON OF DOMITIAN found in 1937 and moved here in 1950

Sunday, June 18, 2017


1159, formerly known as Palazzo del Portico (Palace of the Portico) and part of the houses of the Massimo family
It was built over the ruins of the auditorium of the ODEON OF DOMITIAN (81/96), theater with 10,000 seats south of the Stadium of Domitian (Piazza Navona) used for music competitions that were part of the Certamen Capitolinum
1532/36 rebuilt by Baldassarre Peruzzi (1481/1536) of whom is the architectural masterpiece
The building is still owned by the Massimo family one of the oldest in Rome, legendarily connected to Quintus Fabius Maximus the delayer, but historically documented “only” from the year 999
Beautiful ceiling with wonderful portal that leads into the VESTIBULE with stuccos
Two narrow courtyards that allow light to reach even the lower floors, with sculptures and archaeological finds, including a “Venus Anadyomene”
Wooden ceiling with stuccos maybe by Baldassarre Peruzzi or Pietro Bonaccorsi aka Perin del Vaga (1501/47)
Frieze “Stories of Fabius Maximus” by Daniele da Volterra (1509/66)
Flemish tapestries and frieze of Baldassarre Peruzzi
Frieze painted with scenes of the “Foundation of Rome” by Giulio Pippi aka Giulio Romano (1499/1546)
In addition heavenly hall and reception room
On the second floor
Here St. Philip Neri (1515/95) on the 16th of March 1583 resurrected for a short time the fourteen year old Paolo son of Fabrizio Massimo. After he confessed, he asked to die to join her sister who had died a few days before, so St. Philip Neri blessed him and Paul died again
Every March 16th a religious ceremony takes place here and the building is open to all
“Miracle of St. Philip” by Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio (1552/1626)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


BASEMENT - Large Coins Collection
Also Savoy Collection and Goldsmithing Section, with jewels, gems and female toiletry items almost all from FUNERARY KITS including:
“Necklace and earrings in gold” end of sixth or fifth century BC from Fidene
“Gem of Aspasios with Athena Parthenos” first century BC, carved on red jasper
“Silver mirror with relief of the myth of Frisus and Elle” Antonine period, from the estate of Vallerano
She lived in the middle of the second century AD and died at the age of about eight years
She was found mummified in 1964 in a location known as Grottarossa on the Via Cassia with her ivory doll fitted with movable joints in a “Sarcophagus with hunting scenes” inspired by an episode of the Aeneid
The child was buried with a nice tunic in Chinese fabric, a necklace of gold and sapphires, as well as gold earrings and a gold ring
There were also amulets in amber from northern Europe. All objects are exhibited in the same room of the girl
She was mummified with linen bandages impregnated with resinous and odorous substances, a practice quite common in the imperial period in Egypt and the Middle East, but very uncommon in Rome
The brain and the bowel were removed and medical tests showed that she died of a disease of the respiratory system

Friday, June 9, 2017


Second Gallery
Cryptoporticus A 45 m (147.6 feet) long
Third Room
Corridors F and G, Garden L with “Garden adorned with fountains” and Triclinium C
“The decoration indicates clearly the moment of transition which, in the years of the third last decade of the first century BC, takes from a dying second style to the formal and thematic novelties of the third style: choice of monochrome background, lightening of the architectural equipment and drastically reduction of the perspective effects” (Mark Giuman - TMG)
Fourth Room
Fifth Room
“Typical example of third style: end of the multiplication of illusionistic space and decorative system focused, generally, on a main panel positioned centrally, often flanked by smaller figured panels” (Gian Luca Grassigli - TMG)
Cubicles D and E with stucco, including, in the ceiling “Winged Victory holding helmet”
Colorful and Black and White Mosaics of the Imperial Period from the Lazio Region
“Mosaic floor in scaled clypeus with the head of Medusa” second century AD from Via Emanuele Filiberto
“Nile Mosaic” second century AD from Villa Maccarani near S. Saba on the Aventine Hill
“Dionysus and satyrs” second century AD from the area of the Villa Farnesina, where S. Giacomo in Settignano is today
“Mosaic floor with heads of Satyr and Pan” second half of the second century AD from a Roman villa which probably belonged to Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus in Genazzano
“Mosaic floor with bust of Dionysus” third century AD from the Via Flaminia
“Dionysus and a Maenad fighting two Indian warriors” fourth century AD from Villa Ruffinella in Tuscolo
“Busts of the seasons” fourth or fifth century AD from Capannelle
Sixth and Seventh Room
Villa di Castel di Guido of the first half of the first century AD from the site of ancient Lorium
Three walls 5 m (16.4 feet) high with frescoes in the third style of a lobby to a triclinium reconstructed from about 3,000 pieces:
“Mars seated, Eros and Aphrodite”, “Perseus and Andromeda” and maybe “Scene of sacrifice surmounted by trophy weapons”
Eighth Room
Nymphaeum of Anzio with “Hercules sitting on rocks” carved into stone and made of shells, colored stones and glass tiles
Floor mosaics of the Villa di Baccano perhaps property of the Severian family
Large paintings of the late empire
“Sitting Venus or Goddess Barberini” dating back to the time of Constantine (306/337) found in the Lateran Baptistery and, from 1655, in Palazzo Barberini
A clumsy restoration of the seventeenth century added the helmet transforming it into a goddess Rome but it was probably the pictorial representation of the statue of Venus of the Temple of Venus and Roma on the Velia Hill
“Three monumental figures” maybe members of the imperial family
“Charioteer with seahorse” also from the area of the Lateran
Eleventh Room
Marble inlays
“Floral Panels” from the Villa of Lucius Verus
“Head of the sun god in cipolin marble” beginning of the third century from the Mithraeum of S. Prisca
Two marble inlays from the Basilica of Giunio Basso:
“While the story of Hylas and the Nymphs (allusive to the myth of the immortality of the soul: Hylas is rewarded by the nymphs with eternal life) is executed with a classicist purpose and ways, even if pervaded, as it would be, of the renewed Late Antiquity sensitivity, the image of the client meets the needs of self-glorification and exaltation, even adopting the forms of symbolic language, as well shows the front of the chariot, represented at the expense of the realistic rendering of the horses pulling” (Gian Luca Grassigli - TMG)

Thursday, June 8, 2017


TOP FLOOR - Frescoes and mosaics from the first century BC to the fourth century AD
Fragments of frescoes with “Fishes” and “Navigation scenes” about 130 AD from Lungotevere Pietra Papa
First Gallery
Colorful and Black and White Mosaics of the Imperial Period from the Lazio Region
“Mosaics with geometric designs” first century BC from a Villa of Casale S. Basilio
Èmblema with landscapes and masks” second century AD from Priverno
“Mosaic coffered floor with Nikai and Dionysian Masks” end of the first century BC from Villa Ruffinella in Tuscolo
“Geometric mosaic floor with still life” beginning the first century AD from Grotte Celoni on Via Casilina
“Mosaic floor with Nilotic landscape” early second century AD from the Cellae Vinariae Nova et Arruntiana on Lungotevere della Lungara
First Room
Frescoes from Via Graziosa on Esquiline Hill with “Scenes from the Odyssey”
Frescoes from a columbarium on Esquilin Hill of the gens (family) of Statilii Tauri:
“Various iconographic and compositional models are used, the selection of which is motivated by the need for immediate readability of images; thus if the fight scenes are dependent on patterns of the high Hellenistic period, the bucolic images derive stylistically instead from landscape paintings, while the figures of the individual gods and personifications recall classical statuary types. The episode of the masons at work to erect the walls of the city is reminiscent of the realistic genre scenes. The political message that informs the entire composition well fits the Augustan propaganda that every Roman citizen is called upon to feel part of the legendary history of Rome” (Lucio Fiorini)
Villa of Livia Ad Gallinas Albas
Frescoes from the Villa of Livia (Augustus’ wife) at Prima Porta known as Ad Gallinas Albas with “Garden of the Villa of Livia” of the years 30/20 BC, measuring 11.7 x 5, 9 m (38.3 x 19, 3 feet)
It is a room that used to be half buried to avoid the summer heat and it was called paradeisos (paradise). Incredible decoration painted with 23 species of plants and 69 of birds
The villa was so called because of the event of the fall from an eagle in the lap of Livia, during her marriage with Augustus, of a white hen with a sprig of laurel in her mouth
“Following the incident and on the recommendation of the auruspici, the hen and all of her offspring was brought up and a grove of laurels was planted around the villa, from which the branches used for imperial triumphs were gathered. Suetonius notes that the drying of a plant was considered an omen of death and that at the death of emperor Nero all the wood burned down to the roots and all the hens died” (Elena Calandra)
Discovered in 1863 and detached in 1952. The painted plaster was applied on a wall composed of a coating of tiles arranged in five rows, detached from the wall so as to create a cavity that would isolate from moisture
It is a painting of a kind that, as Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli remarked, “can't be found anywhere else”
Villa Farnesina
Discovered in 1879 while working on the construction of the banks of the River Tiber. About half of it was discovered in excellent condition. It was formed by at least two floors, of which only the lower was preserved
It was probably built, according to Hans Gustav Beyen, for the wedding of Julia, the only daughter of Augustus, with his cousin Marcello (son of the sister of Augustus, Octavia) who died at age 19 in 23 BC
The villa was later used by Giulia for her second marriage with Agrippa in 21 BC
In reality the exceptional quality of the frescoes is not in itself a sufficient argument in favor of demonstrating that it was an imperial home. Perhaps it was painted by Studius (or Ludius) who, according to Pliny, was specialized in this type of paint even though his typological schemes were more extensive

Monday, June 5, 2017


Thirteenth room - Severian Dynasty (193/235)
“Second of the four types of portraits recognized for Septimius Severus: it is one of the type known as 'of the adoption' assignable to 196, the year in which the emperor, who in reality was imposed after a civil war, did surreptitiously adopt himself, declaring himself the son of Marcus Aurelius and brother of Commodus. Fiction went even further: the portraits of that year echoed those of his predecessor, technically and stylistically, and even in a generic physiognomic assimilation” (Elena Calandra)
Colossal head of “Severus Alexander (222/235)” from Ostia
“Sarcophagus with Muses” from Villa Mattei maybe dating to the year 280
“Sarcophagus of Acilia” dating to about 238 according to Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli, who identified the young man with short hair as Gordian III ascended the throne at age 13, with his parents close to him
According to others it is a processus consularis procession for the entry into office of a consul
It was found in 1950 in Palocco and it is in the shape of a lenòs, vat of wine, in allusion to the harvest after death
“Sarcophagus of the Annona” about 270 from Via Latina with dextrarum iunctio and allegorical figures related to the activity of high official in charge of the Annona's office (the provision of food) of the deceased Senator
“Sarcophagus of Marcus Claudianus” about 330 with stories from the Old and New Testaments
“Christ the Teacher” according to Paribeni it is the oldest sculpted depiction of Christ, while Barrera reckons it is the image of a young man in the iconography of the sitting philosopher
“Crater with Madonna nursing”, if it is really the Virgin Mary, it would be one of the earliest images of her existing in the world
“Portrait of a mature person” of the period of Gallieno from Ostia
“Portrait of a charioteer” of the period of Gallieno from the area of the Chiesa Nuova
“Vespasian” from Minturno
“Vespasian” from Ostia
“Vespasian from the Tiber” from the area of Via Giulia, perhaps reworked from a portrait of Nero of whom the sideburns remain
“Nerva” from Tivoli
“Domitian” from Latina
“Julia as a matron” first century AD, twelve year old daughter of Titus found in the Hospital Fatebenefratelli
Female portraits:
“Julia Domna” wife of Septimius Severus
“Plautilla” wife of Caracalla
“Etruscilla” wife of Decius (249/251)
“Salonina” wife of Licinius Gallienus (253/268)
“The artistic quality overall is very high, as reflected by both the accurate rendition of the hairstyle and the exact execution of the eyes, enlivened by the pupil as a pelta. The work is fully in the Renaissance of Gallienus, characterized by a design language modeled on the classical one, but in reality permeated with the strong realism typical of the portraiture of the middle years of the third century” (Elena Calandra)

Friday, June 2, 2017


Eighth Room - Mythological Cycles
“Torso of Minotaur” from Via S. Tommaso in Parione
“Group of Achilles and Penthesilea” second century AD from Settebagni from a Hellenistic original of about 170/160 BC
“Manly torso with chlamys” representing Odysseus stealing the Palladium maybe from a Hellenistic bronze original of 197 BC by Nicerato. It was found in Via Margutta
“Mutilated statue of teacher of the children of Niobe” early second century AD from a group of Niobids
“Actor disguised as Papposilenus” second century AD from Torre Astura
“Double herm of Dionysus” of the Hadrian period from Via Sallustiana
Tenth Room - Ships of Caligula (37/41) in Nemi
“Protomes” including one with the head of Medusa
Eleventh Room- Historic Celebrations
“Headless statue with breastplate”
“Relief of the victory of Actium”
“Relief of Terracina”
Twelfth Room - Sarcophagus of Portonaccio
Incredibly epic and detailed “Sarcophagus of Portonaccio” with battle between Romans and barbarians
On the lid “Four scenes from the life of the deceased”
On the sides “Barbarians ask for mercy and crossing of a bridge of boats by Roman soldiers with barbarian prisoners” 180 maybe of Aulus Julius Pompilius one of the generals of Marcus Aurelius
“Strong is undoubtedly the parallelism with the reliefs of the Column of Marcus Aurelius: in fact this sarcophagus shares with the column the expressiveness of the characters represented at the limits of the disintegration of form, according to a design concept, due to the exasperated use of the drill, which would fully affirm itself in the third century” (Elena Calandra)