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Private tour of the Vatican Museum and Saint Peter basilica
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- The Belvedere Garden The idea of creating the Vatican Museums came about at the beginning of the Ili”‘ century when Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere became Pope, taking the name Julius II (1503-1513), and had important classical stat-ues such as the .Ipollo and the Laocoon transferred to the Vatican anti placed in the Belvedere Palace garden, which had been
transformed into a courtyard. The courtyard was designed by Donato Bramante, Nvho had drawn in-spiration from literary descriptions and the remains of villas and ancient palaces to recreate a natwal environment wills the ancient
marble stat-ues placed amongst orange, lemon, myrtle and has trees accompanied by a continuous flow of water from Ilse fountains. The classical statues were harmoniously positioned along the walls of Use courtyard in niches and in the centre as part of the fountain. This environment edified mid delighted the men of letters and assists who cause to Rome as guests of the Pope to study classical antiquities. The
Belvedere Palace was built in the 15’h century for Innocent VIII (Cybo. 1-184-1492) as a papal summer residence. The view over the Ro-man countryside must have been spectacular. though it has now been replaced Its the sight of the city’s Prati and Trionfale areas. For the most part the original architecture has been retained. although Ilse Palace was altered in the 18th century. IVe can still reconstruct its original ap-pearance thanks to a series of drawings, engravings, maps and eleva-tions from the le and 17″‘ centuries. The main facade was dominated by a loggia with two avant-corps at the far ends and a craws of merlons running all the way around building. The Palace was actually part of a much huger complex. as this engrav-ing by Mario Cartaro clearly shaves. It can be seen on Ilse right, to Ilse north, with Ilse Garden holding Julius II’s statuses and its view over the roman cOuntr•side. On the opposite side to use south we cars sec the complex of the Papal Palace, first built by order of Pope Nicholas III (Orsini. 1277-1280) who look into consideration the potential of the Vatican in becoming the fixed papal residence, fully aware of the importance of living in proximity to Peter’s tomb. The former papal residence was the Lateran and it was only after the Avignon Exile (1300-1377) that the Pope lived permanently at the Vatican. This illustration also Shows the connecting courtyard designed by Donato Bramante. Bramante and Ain. 11 were able to come to it unique understanding as their inten-tions converged to satisfy one in his search for a universal architectural language and the other in his plan to recover the splendour of ancient Rome. brought to life again in a Christian setting. lit this case Bramante’s study and reintroduction of classical architecture in the expression of a universal language Nvas operative in Julius Is plans to reorganise the Papal Palace, Among the various renovation projects. the architect designed the Belvedere Courtyard to link the summer Palace , ith the …
- The tournament and the joust In the joust two knights at a time with their lances at resc galloped towards each other trying to unseat their opponent. The tournament on the other hand. was a simulated battle between two groups of knights. each ﬁghting to overpower the other and become manners of the battleﬁeld. These tests originated in France and appeared in Italy from the l2‘” century onwards.The tournaments were held to celebrate victories, peace, alliances. marriages, religious festivals and important political events. Originally they hardly differed from real battles to the point where. at the end of the day. it was not unusual for many participants to suffer injuries or even death. Over time. and after numerous outcries. the games became less and less violent and took on the form of grand festivals in which participants used blunted weapons without their sharp points or covered them with a shield. It was not until the l7″‘ century, however. that the displays deﬁnitively shed their primitive nature involving the representation of a battle and became contests of grace and agility. often choreographed with music. Besides the sculptm‘es in the niches other statues were reused as ornaments for the fountains. Luder the papacy of Leo X (Medici, 1515-1521). Julius ll’s successor. a new discovery was added to the pontiﬁcal collection: the colossal statues of the Nile and the Tiber. These were placed in the centre of the courtyard among the orange trees on high plinths with the Medici coat of arms. the Nile with its back to the Laocoon and the Tiber opposite. Durhig Julius II’s reign two other statues were added and used as fountains. ‘I”he-iriadnc was positioned in the corner of the courtyard above a sarcophagus held up by dolphins which served as a basin, and an ancient statue of a river thought to he the ‘Ii’gris or the Arno was placed in the niche at the other end of the same wall, it too being reduced to a fountain on a sarcophagus supported by turtles. The last additions were the world famous Torso. particularly admired by Michelangelo who declared himself to be a ‘disciple of the Belvedere Torso’, placed near the fragment of Hercules and Antaeus anti a statue identified as Henncs standing in the niche next to the Palace’s entrance. The walls of the. courtyard also held marble masks which were thought to have come from the Pantheon. This collection of sculptures transformed the Vatican into an ideal Parnassus – the hill of the Muses which inspired the creative process in all its forms – the very one which Raphael painted at aromid the same time on one of the walls of Julius 11’s apartment on the third floor of the Papal Palace with the intention of recapturing and studying the work of classical civilisations, a practice which was considered to be very important during the Renaissance. The testimony of an anonymous ambassador from the Veneto region. who saw the Belvedere Garden when he made his visit of allegiance to the new Pope Adrian VI (Florensz, 1522—1525). is very effective in providing a description of the area. He recounts a beautiful garden with lush grass. laurds. a magniﬁcent orange tree and more particularly the ancient statues of the Tiber and the Nile which gushed with water. the Apollo. the Lam-muand ﬁnally the exquisite l‘tmus.
- What is a museum? According to the International Council of Museums (ICoM)”a museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its develop-ment, open to the public. which acquires, conserves, researches, communi-cates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.” Why a museum? Every time we enter a museum and walk through the various rooms we make an ideal journey, a sort of itinerary of the soul which allows us to re-turn to
the origins of Man and consequently to piece together the collec-tive identity of the whole of humanity on its voyage through history. During this eternally unique and fascinating journey, however, we must keep in mind that we are faced with a fragmented situation. incomplete in the partial and fragmented display of each work of art and of each object which can never-theless restore traces of truth to us, like the fragments of a mirror. The origin of the word Where does the word “museum” come from? The term has ancient Greek origins stemming from the noun museion or rather “temple, shrine, or seat of the Muses” — the goddesses who, according to ancient mythology, in-spired creative thought in all its shapes and forrns.They were the supreme inspirers of Man’s intellectual activities such as poetry, oratory, music, histo-ry, mathematics and astronomy. Originally the seat of the Muses was prob-ably meant to be on a hill or in a wood and not in a building. The noun museion. referring to a building, was used to indicate the Great Museum ofAlexandria in Egypt, a religious institution in which study and re-search were placed under the protection of the Muses.This museum was built in the century sc and included lodgings for the academic commu-nity of men of letters and scientists, rooms and porticoes for reading, study-ing and conversing, various works of art and more especially the great cul-tural institution of the famous library. Both these institutions were founded on the initiative of the ruling Ptolemy dynasty and represented a cultural reference point for the whole of the Mediterranean at the time, contain-ing specially dedicated areas and a building for teaching and research under the auspices of the Muses. Plato and Aristotle also organised their schools, the Academy and the Lyceum respectively, as places conceived for the cult of the Muses. The birth of the museum as an institution The museum as an institution has deeply-rooted and distant origins and was founded thanks to our inclination for gathering together and collecting all kinds of objects at risk of being damaged over time. The first collections of art had religious connotations both in ancient Egypt and in Greece, for example the objects of worship in the temples and grave goods. In Roman times the practice of secular collecting arose after great military conquests and the arrival of the spoils of war in Rome. Noble hous-es and villas, temples and porticoes were filled with works of art, especial-ly of Greek origin. This is supported by historical sources and by archaeo-logical findings. Pliny, for example. in his Naturalis Historia lists a series of Greek statues and paintings in the so-called Portico of Octavio, and findings at Pompeii and Herculaneum like the series of bronze portrait sculptures of philosophers in the library of the Pisoni family villa. In the Middle Ages the Church, and therefore all places of worship, became the favoured destination for commissions and collections of works of art as educational and religious [ messages could be communicated through them. for example the frescoes or the mosaics depicting the episodes of the Old and New Testaments or the lives of saints along the churches’ naves, which were aimed at bringing wor-shippers and pilgrims closer to the great themes of faith (Bibb° pauperum, the [ Bible of the Poor) using a simple and immediate means of communication. In the 15. century and then during the Renaissance with the renewed in-terest in the study of classical antiquity, the spread of humanistic culture j and the reconsideration of works of art from an independent aesthetical Ipoint of view, there was not a court in Italy which did not also become a home for ancient works of art and a source of commissions for contempo-rary craftsmen. Milan. Mantua, Ferrara. Urbino and Florence came to house i splendid collections and the very same artists and humanists became coi-1 lectors. With Humanism collecting became a method of investigation and the collector became a philosopher, a theologian who would search for the order of the world in his collections. Collections began to blossom with naturalta,artificialia and mirabilia which included antiquities (Egyptian. Greek. Roman and Christian), gems, coins. marble objects, scientific and musical in-, struments, portraits of illustrious men, fossils, minerals, coral, various other objects (talismans. lamps, ethnographic findings from far away continents, stones), rare animals (crocodiles. shells) and plants (exotic fruits). Essential-ly these collections did not just include man-made objects (artificialia), they also included natural discoveries (naturalia) and items which excited admi-ration (mirabilia). For the humanists from Petrarch and Poggio Bracdohni to Retro Bembo at the beginning of the 16°’ century. a paradigm of all this was
The Vatican Museums in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
During the Counter-Reformation in the middle of the 16‘” century the tradition of collecting was opposed and expurgaled with harsh words; in reference to the ancient sculptures collected in the Vatican. St. Pius V (Ghislieri, 1566-1572) declared: ‘sunt idola profana’ (‘these are profane idols“). F urlherrnore, the great new construction site of St. Peter‘s required unprecedented effort and attention so the Popes of the l7m century had to concentrate on the colossal project. indirectly imposing athe “study”, a place where books joined all the various antiquities constitut-ing a local variation on the European model of the so-called “Wunderkam-mer” or “cabinets of curiosities”, embryos of the Museum as we recognise it today, a laboratory of history and knowledge of the world. The penetration of Humanism in Rome was at the root of the Papal col-lections and their usage by scholars and artists, as well as the collections on display in the large houses and courtyards of the great families. These collections revealed refined cultural awareness and they became tools for orchestrating agendas and political plans. Julius II’s plans for the statue gar-den, for example, can be interpreted in this light. He gathered together sculptures which called to mind the protagonists of the Trojan War such as the Laocoon, the Apollo and the Venus Felix reminiscent of Aphrodite, and the group of Hercules and Telephus reminiscent of Aeneas with his son Ascanius. The Pope wanted to create a real Virgilian theme which would link the stat-ues together to communicate a precisely-conceived political agenda. Just as Virgil celebrated the origins of Rome through the Trojan War and Aeneus’ adventures in the Aeneid in accordance with Augustus’ political agenda to exalt the city’s centrality and the imperial family, Julius II used his “Virgilian” statues and played on his own name lulius put himself in the direct line of the Gens liulia, Caesar and Augustus’ family, with the aim of heralding a new golden age for recently-established Christian Rome. There was also a public dimension to collecting in Rome which became more marked after Sixtus IV’s (della Rover, 1471-1481) “dbnation” CO the Roman people of large bronzes with great symbolic value.They were trans-ported from the Lateran CO Capitoline Hill and became the nucleus of the future Capitoline Museums. However, it was during the 18 century. the Age of Enlightenment, that the modern concept of the Museum took shape, that is to say a public institu-tion open to everyone aiming to safeguard cultural heritage and promote its understanding.This institution was therefore a creature of the Enlight-enment in Europe; it was during this era that an architectural space was designed for the first time to give a universally recognisable form to the museums. Previously, works of are had been simple decorative elements in the large houses and villas which received them. Now a new awareness arose which underlined the importance of making the cultural heritage formerly restricted to the enjoyment of a limited and elite circle acces-sible to everyone. It also exposed the necessity of designing a building, a home for the works to be collected; a container conceived especially for its contents.This century, therefore, witnessed the birth of the great mu-seums and after various expansion works and changes to the organisation of the collections. Clement XII (Corsini, 1730-1740) decreed the opening of the Capitoline Museums.
- Bramante’s Staircase (Scala del Bramante) A little further on, alter passing
Iltrough a small vestibule, we come to Rramante’s Staircase, a spiral flight of stairs enhanced by a gran-ite colonnade made for Julius II (della Rovere, 1503-1513). The graded ramp was built as one of the entrances to the Palace and its structure with wide and low steps made it possible to go up and down easily even on horseback. It is characterised by an elegant colonnade which displays the three architectural orders, Doric, Ionic and Corinthian, changing ac-cording to the level you are on as you move upwards from the bottom.
- Octagonal Courtyard (Cortile Ottagonale) Moving back, we come to the Octagonal Courtyard, the heart and ini-tial location of the Vatic. Niuseunts.
Originally there was a square, or-ange tree garden decorated with statues Julius If had built Icy Bramante. The Apollo, the Laocoon and the Izernis Felix were installed in the three cappelleile (small shrines) along the Courtyard’s main wall, the one the Pope’s guests would see in front of them as they arrited in the garden front Rratnante’s Staircase. In the le century Clement XIV ordered the open area to be closed off by an octagonal portico designed by Simonetti, giving the Courtyard its current appearance. The shorter sides are called Cabinets (Gabinetti), and here we eats admire the most important statues adorning Julius II’s ancient courtyard.
- The statuary The statues and their origins When we admire masterpieces of classical statuary we have to remember that we are standing before Roman copies of Greek statues. Statues, in Greece. were linked to politics and religion so we must try to imagine there outdoors. in temples, shrines. the Agora. libraries, theatres. gymnasia and as ornaments on tombs. The military campaigns conducted by the Romans in the Mediterranean af-forded various opportunities of coming into direct contact with the thriv-ing centres of Greek civilisation and the inevitable result was that countless Greek works of art — the spoils of war — began to flow into Rome.The first objects came from Syracuse, which was seized and sacked in 212 BC by Gen-eral Marcus Marcellus.According to the historian Livy the conquest of Syra-cuse was ‘the very beginning of enthusiasm for Greek works of are (XXV), and this was corroborated in Marcellus’ biography, written by the Greek Plutarch, in which we can read that the General ‘to illustrate his triumph. and adorn the city, carried away with him a great number of the most beautiful ornaments of Syracuse. For, before that. Rome neither had, nor had seen. any of those fine and exquisite rarities: nor was any pleasure taken in graceful and elegant pieces of workmanship: (Life of Marcellus, 21). Seeing as the origi-nals did not satisfy demand, Roman copies began to be made of the Greek originals and entire schools transferred their activities to Rome to work for the buyers.This became one of the main factors in facilitating the mania for private collecting reflecting Catholic tastes which, far from appreciating the shapes and forms of Greek art, concentrated on making the works fit in with their architectural setting. The materials The materials chosen so make the statues were extremely diverse: wood. terracotta, bronze, limestone, and marble with a preference for the white varieties, porphyry and granite. The favoured materials were usually the durable ones. partly due to the need to withstand outdoor conditions and atmospheric agents. For the same reasons. as well as for aesthetics. the statues’ surfaces were painted. also partly to mitigate the violent effects of the light. There was a progressive transition from full to partial polychromy, fache-tated by the artists’ discovery of the marble’s beauty. However, the use of colour on the statues never completely disappeared. just as the artists also continued to spread a protective layer of wax on them. Distinctive colours were also used on the bronzes as well as embellish-ments in enamel. ivory and mother of pearl for the natural rendering of the eyes and mouth. Unfortunately most of the Greek statues in bronze have been lost as they were melted down in later eras. so the existence of origi-nals is extremely rare and the result of fortuitous circumstances. Luckily the Roman copies in marble from the original Greek bronzes have been mostly well preserved and handed down to us intact.Thanks to these statues, and by studying and comparing various copies of the same model in reliefs, on coins and in glyptics. we can laboriously trace back to the archetypal form of the Greek original. How can a Roman marble copy be told apart from a Greek bronze original? The presence of supports reveals the works true origins as metal has more elasticity than stone and does not break as easily.The protruding parts of a the “study”, a place where books joined all the various antiquities constitut-ing a local variation on the European model of the so-called “Wunderkam-mer” or “cabinets of curiosities”, embryos of the Museum as we recognise it today, a laboratory of history and knowledge of the world. The penetration of Humanism in Rome was at the root of the Papal collections and their usage by scholars and artists, as well as the collections on display in the large houses and courtyards of the great families. These collections revealed refined cultural awareness and they became tools for orchestrating agendas and political plans. Julius ll’s plans for the statue gar-den, for example, can be interpreted in this light. He gathered together sculptures which called to mind the protagonists of the Trojan War such as the Laocoon, the Apollo and the Venus Felix reminiscent of Aphrodite, and the group of Hercules and Telephus reminiscent of Aeneas with his son Ascanius. The Pope wanted to create a real Virgilian theme which would link the stat-ues together to communicate a precisely-conceived political agenda. Just as Virgil celebrated the origins of Rome through the Trojan War and Aeneus’ adventures in the Aeneid in accordance with Augustus’ political agenda to exalt the city’s centrality and the imperial family, Julius II used his “Virgilian” statues and played on his own name lulius put himself in the direct line of the Gens liulia, Caesar and Augustus’ family, with the aim of heralding a new golden age for recently-established Christian Rome. There was also a public dimension to collecting in Rome which became more marked after Sixtus IV’s (della Rovere, 1471-1481) the Roman people of large bronzes with great symbolic value. They were transported from the Lateran Capitoline Hill and became the nucleus of the future Capitoline Museums. However, it was during the 18 century. the Age of Enlightenment, that the modern concept of the Museum took shape, that is to say a public institu-tion open to everyone aiming to safeguard cultural heritage and promote its understanding.This institution was therefore a creature of the Enlight-enment in Europe; it was during this era that an architectural space was designed for the first time to give a universally recognisable form to the museums. Previously, works of are had been simple decorative elements in the large houses and villas which received them. Now a new awareness arose which underlined the importance of making the cultural heritage formerly restricted to the enjoyment of a limited and elite circle acces-sible to everyone. It also exposed the necessity of designing a building, a home for the works to be collected; a container conceived especially for its contents.This century, therefore, witnessed the birth of the great mu-seums and after various expansion works and changes to the organisation of the collections. Clement XII (Corsini, 1730-1740) decreed the opening of the Capitoline Museums. I metal statue do not need co be supported while sculptures in stone need help to stop these parts from cracking away from the, main structure. It goes without saying that artists who used bronze had almost unlimited free-dom in portraying moving or stretched out figures. The revolutionary new developments in statuary: the study of anatomy and naturalise The oriental influence on early Greek statuary is clear. The workmanship, the use of proportion and the poses of the figures are taken from Egypt (which boasted a long tradidon in large-scale sculpture) both for the stat-ues depicted standing and seated as well as those in motion. Soon, however, Greek statuary broke away from the earlier traditions and chose a new di-rection. Egyptian artists portrayed objects irrespective of the, position in space following a two-dimensional concept of reality.The unvarying aspects in their execution were therefore the front-facing position of the statues whether seated or standing, their great size (Egyptian statues were colos-sal). their lack of autonomy from the architecture (the statue could be con-fused with an architectural element in place of a pillar or column), the lack of anatomical detail and study of a portrait and the preference for durable materials. In ancient Egypt reality was represented as it was thought to be and not how a was actually perceived by the eye. Communicating an idea was considered to be the most important thing, for example the illustration of religious and cosmic principles, rites and cults and the celebration of the Pharaoh’s divinity. In the ancient world traditions generally carried great weight and resistance to innovation was strong, especially in Egypt where some conventions re-mained practically the same for millennia.The open spirit of the Greeks and thee- readiness for research and change lessened these traits and although they recognised she value of traditions. followed a code of expression and a system of binding rules, Greek artists made constant advances, moving away from abstraction and drawing nearer to naturalism; statues made their first steps into three-dimensional space. Soon after, Greek sculptors had to deal with problems linked to the representation of the body in motion, its twists and turns. and they realised that it did not necessarily have to stand on the soles of the feet, just as it did not have to face forward. Another great innovation was the study of anatomy with Man being the absolute centre of attention of Greek artists. The first step in this direc-liOn was the need to make statues life-size instead of the colossi of Egyp-‘ descent. and this led to more attention being given to anatomical detail sbrough the careful observation of still and moving bodies: athletes became ibe pre-eminent source of inspiration. Consequently, attention to anatomi-tai detail manifested itself in a love for the human body. its harmony, beauty ingourThis led the artists, right up the Hellenistic era, to avoid poi-‘saying the body’s declining forms like illness and old age whenever possible. preferred to depict subjects like gods, heroes. illustrious men, athletes the deceased, whose likenesses were destined for temples. shrines, por-ticoes and funerary monuments. Artists In the ancient world wrests in the ancient world were considered mostly to be artisans and in the Greek world the distinction was also very subtle.Technical ability was so im-portant for the Greeks that the expression “well made” was the highest combent an artisan, or a technites, could receive.Art was therefore considered so be an ability and the concept of original and independent artistic creation rernained beyond ancient ways of thinking.
- Apollo Cabinet (Gabinetto dell’Apollo) Around the portico of Ihe courtyard in a clockwise direction we come the Apollo Cabinet. Statue of Apollo “del Belvedere”
was statue was brought to the Vatican by Julius II and placed in one of the niches around the courtyard. It was admired by Winclvelmann Goethe and at an even earlier time by Michelangelo. It is a Roman copy the Hadrian era (II century Ad) or a bronze original by the sculpture – Leochares (IV century BC) which was displayed in the Agora of Athens. It depicts Apollo, who almost seems to appear before the viewer as a sudden apparition in all his divine magnificence. According to ancient mythology Apollo, the god of music and poetry, was represented on the mytical mountain of Parnassus to preside over the Muses, who were tought by the ancients to inspire all the foremost intellectual activities of Man. In this regard, Raphael’s representation of Parnassus in Julius Its study on the second floor of the Papal Palace is eNtraordinary. Apollo was also a warrior god, capable of bringing about a quick death by striking with his bow anal arrow. In Homer’s Iliad, for example, he fights for the ‘firojans against the Greeks. The statue shows the god (tressed as an archer. In his left hand he holds the bow and in Isis right he grasps the arrow he has just drawn from the quiver. The god’s gaze is magnificent as he looks towards an undefined and faraway point in the distance. He has a chlamys, a sort of mantle, thrown over his how-arm and there is a snake on the tree trunk reminiscent of his victory at Delphi over Pythons, Gala’s monstrous serpent child. The tripod is also well-known as one the emblems of Apollo, also a god of divination, on which Pythia, a sort priestess, sat to (lel iVer her prophecies. A solemn feast was held at Delp to commemorate Python’s death and Apollo’s purification. Although this statue is a copy it displays all the originality and the achiev ments of Greek sculptors in the 4° century BC giving us the chance to a preciate Use statue’s movement in three dimensional spare.
- South portico ■ Statue of Rivers (known as Tigris or Arno) and sarcophagus with Ainazonomachy Julius II’s “garden” held a series of statues used as parts of fountains as is the ease of this statue of Rivers. This fluvial statue is a Roman copy from the Hadrian era (2nd century AD) of a Greek prototype from the He lenistie era. Alexander’s foundation of the Empire was a highly important event for Greek art as it became the figurative language of almost the known world; at the same time Greek art came into contact and interacted with other cultures. We therefore refer to art from the era following the 5th and ,4th centuries BC not as Greek but Hellenistic art, as this name evoked tlse title given to the empires founded by Alexander’s successors in the East, who divided the territory into three great Kingdoms (the Kingdoms of Macedonia, Syria and Egypt). In the high Hellenistic age (from the 3rd century Bc) one of the characteristics of the statuary- was the variety of figurative themes represented. They did not just portray gods. mythical heroes, illustrious characters and athletes, as artists did in the classical era, they also depicted children, animals, personifications of the natural world, foreigners and barbarians. This statue of the fluvial deity is known to be the result a series of restorations, with have allowed the statue to be used to form the higher section of the fountain for the Statue Garden with a basin made of a sarcophagus with an Amazonomacky. Which parts have been restored? The first is the right arm holding lire water-bearing vase, which is deco-rated with a ring bearing the Medici coat of arms. ‘this emblem initially caused the work to be identified as a personification of the river Arno. but in actual fact the Medici coat of arms refers to Pope Leo X (Medi-ci, 1513-1521), who probably commissioned the work’s first restoration. The second is the magnificent head, which is reminiscent a the Renais-sance style and seems similar in terms of expressiveness to the Moses sculpted by Michelangelo for Julius Ifs fimerary monument. The main episodes of the Greek mythological repertoire were often represented on sarcophagi with the protagonists being the gods who meddled in the affairs of men and the heroes who featured prominently in battles and various other undertakings. Naturally the episodes judged to be the most suitable for funerary allegories were chosen. In this case the well-known mythical theme of the Anzazonomachy seas well-suited to become a funerary allegory for soldiers’ sarcophagi as it recounts the battle between the Greeks and the Amazons fought both on foot and on horseback. leaving many soldiers dead on the battle-field. This battle took place during the Trojan War when the Amazons, the female warriors descended from the god of war Ares, sent a con-tingent led by their Queen Penthesilea to help King Priam of Troy. The Amazons were defeated by the Greeks and their Queen was killed by Achill.. The sarcophagus dates back to the 2″ century so.
- Laocoon Cabinet (Gabinetto del Laocoonte) Statuary group of the Laocon As tradition has it, the Trojan priest Laocoon and his two sons were killed by terrible serpents sent from the sea by Athena and Poseidon. The priest had
objected to letting the wooden horse into the city of Tmy, advising instead to loan it. It had been left as a votive offering to Athena from the Greeks, who in the mean time pretended to go away. When laced with this wondrous sight, however, the Trojans convinced earls other to accept the horse with the Greek heroes hidden inside, sealing the city’s fate. This group of statues portrays the climactic point in which the monsters coil themselves around the ill-fated heroes’ bodies. Thereafter, Laocoon be-came an emblematic and tragic example of what would happen to those who opposed the inevitable course of events, in this case the events which foretold that Troy should be destroyed and that Aeneas would emerge from the flames to start a new family line with its descendents destined to found the city of Rome. This work of art was foetid in 1506 on Esquiline Hill in the area where the emperor Nero’s Donuts Aurea formerly stood. It was immediately acquired by Julius 11 who placed it in the famous gar-den of tile Belvedere Palace, marking the beginning of the formation of the renowned group of statues. As we have seen the !Aomori. group was full of important symbolic meanings. It is the starting point of a specifi-cally thought-out route which continues with the Apollo (who fought on the Trojans`side) moving on to the Venus Felix ….
- The marble “zoo”
After the Octagonal Cowlyard we come to the Room of the Animals (Sala degli Animali) where we can admire a real zoological museum made of marble, that is to say a rich animalistic repertoire which also includes imaginary and exotic animals. Some are ancient while others have been significantly restored or resculpted by restorers and sculptors front the 18″‘ century. Hellenistic sculptors
were open to all kinds of figurative subjects and they particularly focussed on animals. partly due to more advanced scientific knowledge about their appearance and behaviour. The Hellenistic era was characterised by a great interest in the sciences and a predilection for carrying out all kinds of experiments in all fields of knowledge With people studying mathematics, geometry, geography, astronomy, medicine and botany. Moreover, art came to take on the characteristics of a mirror reflecting new developments. So why create a marble roof Its foundation was un-doubtedly favoured by 18 ,century naturalistic interests, in line with the new horizons reached by biological sciences and in light of the new encyclopaedic culture of the Enlightenment. As mentioned previously. some of the works of art here have been heavily restored, so this small museum within a museum can also be studied in terms of the trend for collecting rare and exotic objects as well as for the decorative tastes of the 10th century and the history of restoration. In a small loggia on the right, to the north. there is a magnificent bust of Pius VI contemplating his museum and little marble zoo. At the end of the 181″ century this MOM was known by,two names, the Room of the Rivers (Station (lei Vituni) and the Room of the Animals. Thanks to ancient prints we know that the renowned statues of the Tiber and the Nile stood here for some time. These personifications suited this environment extremely well as rivers, like animals, were considered to be part of the natural world. in contrast to the world of men. he-roes and gods, the main characters in the Pius-Clementine Museum’s other rooms. During the French plundering, however, the statues of the Tiber and the Nile were removed and taken to Paris for the new Louvre Museum, with only the Nile later finding its way back to Rome. Deprived of its rivers, the room took on the sole name of the Sala degli animali The tamed animals almost seem to come alive before our eyes, from birds, aquatic creatures, wolves, lynxes, lions and panthers to the group of deer being attacked by dogs and the sculptures of mythical beasts like the centaur, the griffin and the Minotaur. The collection is completed by figures whose names are indissolubly linked with animals, like Meleager, the brilliant hunter from Greek mythology mid Mithras killing the bull. There are also two ancient polychrome mosaics set in the paving with still life scenes of flora and fauna. last but not least, let its not forget that this repertoire of animals before its also holds a wide, though not complete, selection of marble as the sculptors used large quantities of coloured varieties to make the ani-mals seem more lifelike. This room allows its to understand the Greco-Roman world’s rapport with nature seen from a mythological, bucolic, hunting and zoological point of view, with the portrayal of exotic and rare animals extraneo to local wildlife, and also from a geological point of view, thanks to variety of the stones.
- Bound Room (Sala Rotonda) The magnificent Round Room with its hemispheric coffered vault and the eye in the centre telling in the light particularly brings to mind great Homan buildings such as baths. The niches around the walls hold-ing the statues, the mosaic and even an ancient utensil such as the large red
porphyry cup all complete the effect. The statues on display here include an emperor and a hero, subjects which filled and decorated indoor and outdoor locations in ancient Rome.
- Colossal statue of Claudius portrayed as Jupiter This statue comes from the centre of Lanuvium and is thought to have been one of the honorary statuses which adorned forums, porticoes and theatres. Here, Emperor Claudius (41-54 An) is portrayed as Jupiter. In every provincial town or colony, the Roman architects, first task was to erect a Capitolium similar to the one in Rome dedicated to the Capitoline triad ofJupiter, Juno and Minerva. Jupiter is the Roman god likened to the Greek figure of Zeus and appears as the god of the sky, the light of day, lightning and thunder: the eagle is the bird which carries Jupiter’s lightning bolt so it has become a symbol of strength and power. This is the reason why it bectune the insignia of every Roman legion and hence.
- Colossal bronze statue of Heracles The exceptional nature of this statue lies in its material — bronze. Bronze statues are rarely conserved as people often melted them down in times of metal shortages. This statue was struck by lightning and
was buried in the place where it fell (as indicated by the engraved letters on the travertine slab closing off the hole) as it was probably considered inauspicious to melt down a statue struck by a celestial phenomenon. This work is thought to have been a part of the monumental complex of the Theatre of Pompey in Campus Martins, the first brick-built theatre in the city of Rome con-structed in the 1. century- Kc. Campus Nlartius was further north than the central Roman Forum area and its name reflected the military pur-pose for which it was mainly used. It was essentially a monumental area of the city; state ownership of the property and the level ground formed the ideal setting for erecting official, public buildings, hence the presence of numerous porticoes, groves, temples and buildings for performances such as theatres and baths. The statue of Hercules is thought to have been one of the many statues and decorative items. which would have adorned this magnificent plain between the Tiber. the Pincian Hill, the Capitoline Hill and the Quirinal Hill. Heracles is the most famous hero of all classical mythology and leg-ends linked to him mainly revolve arotmd the Cycle. of the twelve la-boum that is to say the tasks the hero tackled. distinguishing himself for his strength and coinage. This bronze Ileracles is depicted with some of the instantly recognisable attributes which allude to these tasks such as the club, the lion skits and the apples of Hesperides. Heracles’ weapon of choice, the club, was carved by the hero himsell.
- The Greek Cross Room – A monumental entrance: The Greek Cross Room Originally the Greek Cross Room (Sala a Croce Greca), created by the architect Michelangelo Simonetti, formed the montunental entrance way to the Musetun of classical collections. It was built for Pope Pius VI. who reversed the previous V lolling route. In the past people laud entered the museum from the other side through the so-called Square Vestibule (with the inscription “MUSES M CLEMENTINVM” still visible on the architrave) because Pope Clement XIV had considered it to be more prac- ‘ deal, directly linked as it was to the Papal Palace through the east wing. When the new construction work began under his
successor and more especially when the museum became public, this t)esv monumental en-trance was built, marked by the inscription Museum Pium. The great entrance gateway is trained by two gigantic Egyptian-style telamons from Hadrian’s villa. The Emperor went on numerous trips to the East, during which he absorbed the culture of the great civili-sations, hence, when he constructed Isis magnificent villa, he wanted the rooms to evoke the symbolic locations and Provinces of the Em-pire. in one area Hadrian constructed the Canopus, a vast space symbolising Egypt with the architecture forming a monumental map of the country with decorative items and Egyptian-style statues including the abovementioned telamons. Telamons were human-shape pillars and usually portrayed the god Osiris, the guardian of the ondervvorld, so they became also known as “Osiris pillars”. These telamons, crowned by capitals similar to the typical Egyptian capita in the form of lotus flowers, have a headdress and a short. skirt an their rigid and frontal stance is typical of Egyptian statues, blending in with the other architectural elements around them. Similar tela-mons decorate the great shrine of Isis (the Sister/wife of Osiris) and Serapis (the Roman Osiris) in Campus Martins. The “Egyptian-style-trend spread through Rome also touching upon religion. It was not difficult to find cults which had originated its Ancient Egypt in Rome and consequently it was equally comm.on to find shrines linked to their worshipping practices with architecture and adornments which invariably evoked this ancient civilisation.
- Obelisks in Rome Pink granite obelisks were usually placed in pairs at the entrances to Egypt, temples and can be interpreted as symbols of the sun as they were thou& to be rays of sun turned into stone.This extremely hard stone was also asso-ciated with the god of the sun and as being a “Son of the Sun” was one of the royal prerogatives, many Pharaohs’ sarcophagi were made of granite. In 30 so
when Egypt became a Roman province, the obelisks began to be transport-ed to Rome.They were later forgotten, but gained a new lease of life in the Rome of the Popes. From the 16′ century onwards thirteen obelisks were “rediscovered” and erected in some of Rome’s famous squares. Their use in an urban setting is thought to be attributable to Sixtus V (Pereta. 1585-1590). He monumentalised symbolic squares in key places in the city by positioning obelisks there, and placed crosses at their peaks as a testimony of the continuity between pagan and Christian Rome. One noteworthy exam-ple is the obelisk in the centre of St. Peter’s Square, which was transported there by the architect Domenico Fontana on a wooden tower made of oak This obelisk was brought to Rome by the Emperor Caligula (37-41 AD) and originally positioned in the middle of the wall separating the oval track of the private circus linked to the Horti, the renowned imperial gardens in theVatican where the apostle Peter was martyred. Some of the obelisks transported to Rome can now be found in Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano (New Kingdom); in Piazza del Popolo (New Kingdom): behind the apse in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore: in Piazza della Minerva (remounted on a base in the shape of a small elephant designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini); and in Piazza Montecicorio.
- THE GALLERY OF MAPS
As we leave the Belvedere Palace and move down the long gallery on the second floor which connects the Papal Palace and the Sistine Chapel, we can admire, ha
one part of the corridor, the cycle of mural paintings dedi-cated to the Maps. The main figures behind its design and creation at the end of the 16h century were Pope Gregory XIII (Boncompagni, 1572-1585), who wanted to dedicate a cartographic picture to the NI. hole of Italy, and the cosmog-rapher and mathematician lgnazio Danti. who painted the cartoons of all the geographical panels and managed the whole project. Girolamo Muziano and Cesare Nebbia coordinated a small army of painters and stucco decorators. The “signatures” of the two protagonists are clearly recognisable: the Pope’s coat of arms, a golden dragon on a red background placed over the entrance and exit to the Gallery, and the carllouche in which Tgnazio Danti signs the project, discernible on the first map when entering
from the right, north of the Sallentina Hydramti Terra (Southern Puglia). The innovative nature of the Gallery The custom of decorating the walls of monumental buildings with depictions,of maps can he traced hack to ancient Rome. This trend continued throughout the Middle Ages hal when compared with similar rooms from the time, the Vatican Gallery laid claim to undisputed originality both in terms of its considerable size (120 metres long) and more es-pecially its display concept. The maps of Italy were set out along the walls in such a way as to form a three-dimensional model of the whole peninsula. The two long walls hold the regions touching the Adriatic coast on the right and those touching the Tyrrhenian Sea on the left. The cartographer Danti prepared the cartoons of the 40 panels he and Pope.
- THE PAPAL PALACE
Hen was the first part of the Papal Palace built? In view of the ancient ,irigins of the very first building and all the extensions which have been .shied over time, it is extremely difficult to isolate the original structure. In actual fact the Popes only lived solely in the Vatican after the Avignon Exile (1305-1377) and consequently Nicholas V’s reign (1447-1433) and the construction work he carried out on the Palace coincided with the beginning of a new chapter as far as the Papal
residence was concerned. Even when the popes lived its the Lateran, they considered the Vatican area to be of the utmost importance and soon acquired a residence next to St. Peter’s Basilica which would allow them to be near the Prince of the Apostles’ tomb. The earliest available information dates back to the 5. century AD to the thne of Pope Symmachus (498-514 AD), who built the first buildings destra temple of St. Peter’s, that is to say along the north and south sides of the Basilica, although it seems as if these buildings fell into disrepair soon afterwards. When Pope Leo IV (847-855) had a series of great walls built, the Vatican area started to become a safer place than the Lateran, but it was only after the year 1000 that a palalium novum was constructed on Symnsa-chus’ old avorksile, extended years later by Pope Innocent Ill (Lotario di Segni, 1198-1216). This construction stood on the slopes of
the mons sac-corum, a hill to the north of St. Peter’s which is now the Courtyard of St. Damasus (Cottle di San Damaso). It looked like a small fortress and had a tower which corresponds to the current Chapel of Nicholas V (Cap-pella Niccolina). The building grew considerably under Pope Nicholas III (Orsini, 1277-1280), who began the construction work near the Parrot Cotut.curd (Car-tile del Pappagallo) (1). II was at arotuld this titne that the Vatican began to be thought of as a possible permanent papal residence, especially con-sidering how important it was for a Pope to live next to St. Peter’s tomb. Consequently, the Popes began to live permanently at the Vatican and its an intentional move, none of the official acts issued by Nicholas III are dated from the Lateran. The only part of Nicholas II s building open to visitors today corresponds to the Chiaroscuro Room (Sala dei Chiaroscuri) in the Chapel of Nicholas V and the Hall of Constantine (Sala di Costantino). The Palace of Nicholas III remained unrutished. Finally, there was apomeriunz next. to Palace, a walled orchard-garden which stretched from the mons saccortun to the lop of a hill to the north which is now roughly equivalent to Bramante’s great Belvedere Courtyard. courageously tackled the problem of the deterioration of St. Peter’s Basilica, calling in the architect Leon Battist.a Alberti and, as mentioned above, lie was an active contributor to the enlargement of the Papal Palace with the construction of a wing which closed off its perimeter creating the Parrot Courtyard. The new north wing built by Nicholas V included grana-des and nine cellars on the ground floor, the rooms now occupied by the Borgia Apartment on Use second floor, and Julius II’s apartment frescoed by Raphael above.
- THE CHAPEL OF NICHOLAS V The Chapel of Nicholas V, decorated by Fra Angelico, is a splen-did commemoration of the Papal Palace’s ornamentation during Niels, alas V’s era. It is cited in historical documents as “pars-a et secrete (small and secret) and it was destined for the private or semi-private use of the Pope. It was accessible from the Studiolo-Cubicolo (small study/private bed chamber), situated its the morn nest to the small chapel, and constituted the
Palace’s most secluded wing. This lit-tle chapel is very different from the medieval Great Chapel (Cappel-la Nlagna), undoubtedly constructed before Nicholas V’s time, which. from the second half of the 16″. century onwards, took on the llama of the Sistine Chapel (12), destined for hosting events on the litur cal and ceremonial calendar of the Papal court. The chapel octopi the third and fourth floors of the military tower constructed for I nocent III, and was then incorporated into the new Vatican residen built by Nicholas V It is a rectangular-plan chaisel with a cross va and takes its name from the Pope who ordered the area to be fresco by Friar Giovanni da Fiesole known as Fra Angelico (Beata Angelico one of the greatest painters of the 15th century. This artist’s real n was Guidolino di Pietro but when he took the habit of St. Domenic the convent of Fiesole Ise also took the name Giovanni (John). Ile came known as Angelico .d then Beato (Blessed) due to the sancti of his conduct and the celestial beauty of the figures its
his paintings. How is the pictorial composition of the chapel organised? In line wi mediaeval customs, a painted base runs around the lower section of room with false drapes hanging from nails. Rows of compositions, one above the other, narrate the main events its the life of the deacon St. phen, the first martyr of the Eastern Church, and the deacon St. Law-rence, the first inartyT of the Western Church. Who were the deacons of the early Church? The deacons were instituted both to carry out general charitable and benevolent activities and give assistance during Baptisms 1 and Eucharistic celebrations. The Doctors of the Church such as St. Au-gustine and St. Thomas are It in the upper corners its niches. The vault is divided into four sections by the ribs of the cross vaulting, holding the Four Erangelists with their symbols: Luke and the Bull, Matthew and the Angel. Mark and the Lion and John and Ilse Eagle. The Stories of St. Stephen and St. Lawrence are divided onto two levels on the side walls and the entrance wall by a string-cotu-se cornice between the last two floors of Innocent Ill’s tower. A recent restoration returned this cycle to its original splendour, conveying the strength of the faith in which Fra Angelico deeply believed; he sass- spiritual meaning and the divine order of the universe shining its everything and he was aisle to communicate it through his paintings. These are the only paintings to have survived from among those by this great master its the Vatican.
- THE SISTINE CHAPEL
The construction of the chapel. The new chapel was built for Sixtus IV and also bears his name. it stands in the place of an earlier mediaeval building which fulfilled the saute role of Papal Chapel. Based on architectural inspections carried out on the new building it has been revealed that the previous one would have been an imposing structure with the same rectangular lay-out and dimensions (40 metres long and 13 metres wide). We do not have any information about its height and type of roofing but we lassos it was situated among the very first buildings of the Papal Palace built by Pope Nicholas Ill (Orsini, 1277-1280). Besides the topographical similarity of the Sistine Chapel to the previous building, the mediaeval walls were incorporated
at least up to a certain point while the Sistine brickwork starts above the windows, reaching a total height of about 20 metres. The ffenellated exterior of the Sistine Chapel reveals its double pia-pose as a chapel and a fortress. Due to repeated structural problems over the following centuries, the exterior walls were pro-gressively covered with buttresses and a new brick wall. The section illustrated below shows the various stages of the Sistine Chap-el’s construction. The barrel vaults of three rooms wills Sixtus IV’s coal of quills can be seen below the paving, the elevation of the actual Chapel is set out on three floors and the rooms under the roof, which would become the guardhouse, looked over the open projecting gangway. Who was the architect of the Sistine Chapel? In historical sources two names are mentioned – Barrio Pontelli and Giovannino de Dolci. Pontelli is named by the wellknown artists’ biographer, Giorgio Vasari, as the designer of the Chapel. Giovannino Dolci, according to archive documents, receives) payments for the Chapel’s construc-tion although he is thought to have been a sort of building contra, tor wills the capacity to set up a large construction site rather than an architect
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