This volume covers the major artistic and architectural masterpieces produced in Rome from Antiquity up to the present d
418 45 14MB
English Pages 294 Year 2019
Spanning the entire history of the city of Rome from Iron Age village to modern metropolis, this is the first book to ta
1,275 54 20MB Read more
423 71 3MB Read more
Korean artists are a permanent fixture on today’s international art scene, as interest in modern and contemporary art fr
490 98 79MB Read more
361 120 721KB Read more
Geopolitics in Late Antiquity explores the geopolitical revolution which shook the foundations of the ancient world, the
603 118 2MB Read more
The Art of Building has captured the interest of artists from the Roman period to today. The process of construction app
322 93 10MB Read more
381 44 1017KB Read more
This book surveys the history of higher education--principally universities--in Africa. Its geographical coverage encomp
682 23 48MB Read more
In this comprehensive yet compact book, Michael J. Seth surveys Korean history from Neolithic times to the present. He e
1,151 167 9MB Read more
Table of contents :
Table of Contents
Art in Rome
Art in Rome: From Antiquity to the Present By
Julia C. Fischer
Art in Rome: From Antiquity to the Present By Julia C. Fischer This book first published 2019 Cambridge Scholars Publishing Lady Stephenson Library, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2PA, UK British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Copyright © 2019 by Julia C. Fischer All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. ISBN (10): 1-5275-3447-2 ISBN (13): 978-1-5275-3447-6
For my father, Dr. Edwin P. Menes, who taught at Loyola University Chicago's Rome Center three times and whose passion inspired me. You were the true master of Rome. And for Charles. Ti amo.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Acknowledgments ...................................................................................... ix Introduction ................................................................................................. 1 Chapter One ............................................................................................... 16 The Roman Forum and Colosseum Chapter Two .............................................................................................. 38 The Imperial Fora and Palatine Chapter Three ............................................................................................ 58 The Capitoline Hill and Theater of Marcellus Chapter Four .............................................................................................. 79 The Campus Martius, Piazza di Spagna, and Piazza del Popolo Chapter Five .............................................................................................. 94 The Forum Boarium Chapter Six .............................................................................................. 113 Early Christian Churches and the Tomb of Pope Julius II Chapter Seven.......................................................................................... 136 Piazza Navona and Environs Chapter Eight ........................................................................................... 155 The Vatican Museums Chapter Nine............................................................................................ 179 St. Peter's Chapter Ten ............................................................................................. 201 Piazza della Repubblica and the Quirinal Hill Chapter Eleven ........................................................................................ 215 The Galleria Borghese
Table of Contents
Chapter Twelve ....................................................................................... 234 The Via Veneto Area Chapter Thirteen ...................................................................................... 244 Trastevere Chapter Fourteen ..................................................................................... 263 Modern Rome Bibliography ............................................................................................ 278 Index ........................................................................................................ 282
First, without my father, this book would not exist. As a nine-year-old girl, I lived in Rome while my father taught at Loyola University Chicago's Rome Center. I attended an Italian school, explored the city, and fell in love with Rome. In high school and college, I tried to learn everything I could about Rome's history, art, and culture. Following in my father's footsteps, I eventually became a college professor and have had the opportunity to teach in a study abroad program in Italy. I hope that I continue my father's legacy and his love of Rome, and this book is my love letter to both. I would also like to acknowledge the unrivaled Jesuit education that nurtured my love for all things Roman. At Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, I completed four years of Latin and three years of ancient Greek. At Xavier University and Loyola University Chicago, I took courses on ancient philosophy, history, art, topography, Greek, and Latin. Eventually I received a BA Classics, a special degree that reflects a well-rounded humanistic education based in classical studies. I am thankful for this Jesuit education and its emphasis on the humanities and their importance. I must also acknowledge my beloved study abroad alma mater, the John Felice Rome Center of Loyola University Chicago. In the fall of 1998, I returned to Rome as a college student. During this pivotal time, I decided to change my major to art history. John Nicholson, the preeminent and esteemed art history professor at JFRC, inspired me to do so, as I followed him around in my onsite "Art in Rome" course. I wanted to be like him and I still do. Finally, this book was made possible by the support I received from Lamar University in the form of the Presidential Faculty Fellowship in Support of Teaching Innovation. This fellowship provided crucial funding for summer writing, a new laptop, and editing. I am also thankful that Lamar University encourages study abroad programs and are helping me to develop a summer program in Rome that will utilize this book.
Art in Rome is specifically designed to accompany a fifteen week on-site, study abroad course. Each week of the semester, the class meets on-site at a spot in Rome and each chapter within this book is designed to accompany one class that is roughly three hours. Hence, this book contains this introduction and fourteen chapters, corresponding to a typical fifteenweek semester. Within each of the fourteen main chapters, instructors can pick and choose which monuments to take their students to, depending on his or her expertise, interest, or amount of time. This introduction is a brief overview of the historical periods of Rome from antiquity to the present and briefly explores the most important art historical developments from each of the major time periods. As much as possible, this textbook is arranged chronologically, beginning with the art of ancient Rome and moving through the Early Christian and Medieval periods and into the Renaissance and Baroque era, and finally to modern Rome. But because each class takes place in a specific location of Rome, the topography and location of important art historical sites is also taken into consideration, which means that sometimes not all artworks in a chapter are from the same historical era. For example, Chapter Two covers mostly ancient monuments, including the Imperial Fora and the ruins atop the Palatine Hill. But because of its proximity to this area, the nineteenth century Vittore Emanuele Monument is also discussed, along with Benito Mussolini's fascist construction of the Via dei Fori Imperiali.
Topography of Rome The city of Rome was originally comprised of seven main hills, though the urban landscape today has many additional hills. The Palatine Hill is one of the major central hills in Rome and from the city's beginning, it was one of the most important, mainly because this was the location where the first king of Rome, Romulus, founded the city. Throughout the Roman Republic and Empire, the Palatine Hill continued to be important, especially as a place to construct lavish palaces. In fact, the word Palatine derives from the Latin word for palace. Nestled above the Forum Romanum, the Palatine is the site of the ruins of the palaces and villas of
famous Roman emperors and empresses, including Augustus and his wife Livia. Adjacent to the Forum Romanum, and just north of the Palatine, is the Capitoline Hill, the steepest of the seven hills of ancient Rome. Because of this, the Capitoline was utilized early on as a fortress against enemies. For example, during the Gallic sack of Rome in 390 BCE, only the Capitoline Hill resisted the invasion. Later in the Republic, the Capitoline became the most sacred hill of Rome and was home to the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, which no longer exists. If one visits the Capitoline Hill today, it is the Renaissance renovation of that hill that he or she will see. Michelangelo re-designed the Capitoline Hill's piazza, which was decorated with an ancient bronze equestrian sculpture of Marcus Aurelius. Today, the three villas atop the Capitoline are home to museums that house many of Rome's ancient sculptural masterpieces. The remaining five hills are the Quirinal Hill, which is the northernmost of the seven hills. Today, the Quirinal is the seat of Italian government, home to the Palazzo Quirinale. The Viminal Hill is Rome's smallest hill; today it is home to Termini, the major train station of Rome. The Esquiline Hill is on the eastern part of the city and is one of the largest of the seven mounds. South of the Esquiline is the Caelian Hill, where many of the wealthy patricians lived during the Roman Republic. Finally, the Aventine Hill is just southwest of the Palatine Hill. In ancient Rome, this is where the plebeians lived. As Rome's history progressed, additional hills, like the Janiculum and the Vatican, just across the Tiber River, would be added to the topography of Rome. Nestled between these seven hills are many valleys, most notably the marshy one where the Forum Romanum now sits (within the Palatine, Capitoline, and Esquiline). The area of the Colosseum, once home to Nero's famed Domus Aurea, is the valley amongst the Palatine, Esquiline, and Caelian. And the Campus Martius, which houses many funerary monuments of the emperors, is a large plain next to the Tiber River. The Romans were famous for their construction of roads. During the Roman Empire, massive system of roads were made that connected the huge empire. The city of Rome also had several major arteries, including the famous Via Appia Antica, which was constructed during the Republic. The Via Appia Antica began at the Circus Maximus and eventually wound its way outside Rome, where it was lined with tombs. Eventually, the Via Appia Antica terminated at the southeastern port city of Brindisi. Within Rome, the most important road was the Via Sacra which was one of the major streets within the Forum Romanum and was lined with many basilicas, temples, and government buildings.
Art in Rome: From Antiquity to the Present
About fifteen miles west of Rome is the ancient port city of Ostia Antica. Today, Ostia Antica offers a respite from the busy hubbub of Rome and is accessible via rail. The harbor city is worth a visit, especially if one does not have time to travel south to the ruins of Pompeii. Ostia, like Pompeii, gives the visitor the idea of what a Roman town looked like, with its roads, theaters, temples, homes, brothels, and artistic decoration, including many monochromatic mosaics.
A Brief History of Ancient Rome The city of Rome has a long history that spans many centuries before the Roman Empire began in the late first century BCE. According to legend, Rome was founded by Romulus, the first king of Rome, in 753 BCE. At the time of Romulus’ birth, Italy was comprised of separate kingdoms. King Numitor was the king of Alba Longa. His daughter, Rhea Silvia, was violated by the god Mars, which resulted in pregnancy and the birth of twin boys, Romulus and Remus. Amulius, King Numitor’s brother, was displeased with the arrival of the twins because this demoted him to third in line for the throne. As a result, Amulius kidnapped the twins and planned their demise by placing them within a basket and floating it out into the Tiber River. Little did Amulius know that the twins would not drown. Instead, their basket floated to shore where the boys were rescued by a she-wolf who suckled them herself to keep the babies alive. Eventually, Faustalus, a shepherd, found Romulus and Remus. He and his wife, Acca Larentia, raised the boys. In 753 BCE, Romulus founded Rome, naming the city after himself, and he became the first king of Rome, though not before murdering his own twin brother. From 753-509 BCE, Rome was ruled by a succession of seven kings: Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostiius, Ancus Marcius, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullus, and Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. Each king had absolute power and the citizens of Rome were sharply divided into classes. At the top were the patricians or noble class. The plebians were the lower classes and at the very bottom of the social strata were the slaves. In 509 BCE, the monarchy was overthrown and the Roman Republic began. A republican system of government was established, which lasted until 27 BCE. There were still patricians and plebeians in the Republic and the society, despite no longer having a king, was still one where the power rested in the hands of few people. The Republic had two consuls who were
elected every year by the citizens of Rome. In addition, Rome had a Senate. Despite having elected positions, the Roman Republic did not take long to develop cracks in its armor. First, it was during the Republic that Rome started expanding its territory, including parts of Italy, northern Africa, along with other parts of Europe. This meant that by the second century BCE, Rome had essentially grown from a city-state into a massive empire. Because of this growth of territory and power, civil wars broke out frequently as individuals vied for sole power of Rome. Julius Caesar was one of those people. He wanted to be the first emperor of Rome and very nearly succeeded before being assassinated in 44 BCE. Eventually, Julius Caesar’s adopted grandnephew, Octavian, would become the first emperor of Rome in 27 BCE, when the Senate bestowed upon him the moniker “Augustus,” or the “revered one.” Augustus' Julio Claudian family line would continue until 68 CE, with the death of Nero. Augustus had no sons and thus throughout his reign there was always a question as to who would succeed him. Originally, Augustus desired Gaius and Lucius Caesar, his young nephews, but both tragically died young. Eventually, probably due to the encouragement of his wife, Livia, Tiberius was named successor (he was Livia's son and therefore Augustus' stepson). Following Tiberius, Caligula was emperor briefly before being assassinated; he was not well-liked. Claudius and Nero rounded out the Julio-Claudian empire. Following Nero's suicide in 68 CE, a year of civil strife ensued as various families vied for the throne. The Flavian dynasty eventually won; the family consisted of Vespasian, the patriarch, and his two sons, Titus and Domitian. The Flavians, both the father and sons, frequently legitimized their right to rule by advertising their victory in the Jewish Wars, which was documented by Josephus. The Temple of Jerusalem was sacked during this victory and Vespasian and Titus brought the loot back to Rome, displayed it in a triumphal procession, and ultimately used it to finance building projects in the city. While the family's reign was brief and ended with the death of Domitian in 96, the Flavians nevertheless left a lasting impression on the city, most notably due to the construction of the Colosseum, or Flavian Amphitheater. Additional civil wars erupted with the end of the Flavian dynasty and eventually Nerva became emperor. But the height of the Roman Empire began with Trajan, who was born in Spain. Trajan was responsible for expanding the empire to its greatest extent through his many conquests, most notably in Dacia (modern-day Romania). Hadrian ruled next and he is famous for being the best traveled of the Roman emperors. A
Art in Rome: From Antiquity to the Present
philhellene to the core, Hadrian loved Greek art, architecture, history, and culture. He often used art to express this love of the Greeks. Married to Sabina, Hadrian had a young male lover as well, Antinous, who tragically died when he drowned in the Nile River of Egypt while on a cruise. The Antonine family also ruled during the height of the empire, in the first quarter of the second century CE. Antoninus Pius, the patriarch of the family, was the adopted son of Hadrian and sought to continue the greatness of his predecessors. Marcus Aurelius, the adopted son of Antoninus Pius, succeeded to the throne at a time when the Empire was just beginning its decline. The most contemplative of the Roman emperors, Marcus Aurelius wrote Meditations. Because the empire was becoming increasingly difficult to rule alone, Marcus Aurelius made Lucius Verus and then Commodus his co-rulers. At the end of the second century CE, the Severan dynasty took control and ruled from 193-235 CE. From Leptis Magna in modern-day Libya, the patriarch was Septimius Severus followed by his two sons, Caracalla and Geta. Like emperors before them, the Severans built on a grand scale, both in Rome and in Leptis Magna. Geta, who co-ruled with his father and then his brother, was murdered in 211. A hated emperor, his art was subjected to damnatio memoriae, or a destruction of memory. Artistic depictions of Geta were routinely destroyed. Caracalla, Geta's brother, ruled until he was murdered by one of his praetorian guards, allegedly as he was urinating while traveling. Another much despised emperor, Caracalla was just another reason why the Roman Empire was declining. The history of the third century CE is complicated, as numerous socalled soldier-emperors succeeded to the throne and then were routinely assassinated. Sometimes referred to as the crisis of the third century, the period from 235 to 285 had more than twenty-five emperors, which was roughly one every two years. Most of these emperors were not even elected by the Roman Senate. Instead, they were proclaimed emperor by their troops. The third century descended into chaos until Diocletian, a general from Split, Croatia, gained control of the Roman Empire in 284 and established the Tetrarchy, or "rule by four." Because the Roman Empire was so vast, it was becoming increasingly difficult for only one person to rule. Communication was difficult and it was also hard to maintain order in the provinces. Thus, with the Tetrarchy, Diocletian envisioned the Roman Empire being ruled by four men. Divided into the Western Empire, with Rome as its capital, and the Eastern Empire, which had Byzantium (soon to be Constantinople and then Istanbul) as its capital city, two emperors would rule each half, one senior (Augustus) and one junior (Caesar). Each
emperor was charged with the responsibility of a specific area, and therefore the empire became much easier to handle and maintain. The tetrarchy worked for approximately twenty years. But as was often the case in Roman history, there was again a desire by some to have complete, sole control. After Diocletian retired to his sprawling palace in Split in 305 CE, the Tetrarchy ended. Civil war again waged as people vied for the throne; Constantine was one of these that desired sole power. He set about conquering his rivals, and one of his most famous victories was at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in Rome in 312 CE, where he beat Maxentius. Constantine attributed his victory over the stronger Maxentius to the Christian god, who, according to the writer Eusebius, came as a vision to Constantine the night before battle, showing him the chi rho device and telling him, "In this sign, conquer." The next day, Constantine affixed the chi rho symbol, which combines the first two Greek letters of Christ's name, to his shields and pennants. Miraculously, Constantine beat Maxentius and as a result, he became Christian. By 325, Constantine defeated his last opponent and became sole emperor. Often Constantine is regarded as the first Christian Roman emperor, but he did not fully convert to Christianity until his deathbed. Instead, the emperor hedged his bets, placating both Christians and pagans during his rule. Constantine was instrumental in the continued popularity of Christianity, a religion that had been around for three centuries by that point. Simple and direct in its teachings, Christianity was appealing to many because it was easy to understand and it promised life everlasting. Prior to Constantine, Christians were persecuted in Rome and therefore had to hide their religion. But under the Edict of Milan of 313, which legalized Christianity and promoted the tolerance of all religions, the Christians could freely worship. Constantine was instrumental in building some of the first Christian churches in Rome, including its most important, St. Peter's. After Constantine, every emperor was Christian. In 410 CE, the Visogoths sacked Rome, thus bring the Western Roman Empire to an end. The Eastern Empire, based in the newly named Constantinople, after Constantine, would continue until 1453 with its Ottoman conquest. Thus, while Rome might have fallen, the Eastern Empire, also called the Byzantine Empire, would continue for the next millennium. Seven Kings of Rome • •
Romulus 753-715 BCE Numa Pompilius 715-673 BCE
Art in Rome: From Antiquity to the Present
• • • • •
Tullius Hostilius 673-642 BCE Ancus Marcius 642-617 BCE Tarquinius Priscus 617-579 BCE Servius Tullius 579-535 BCE Tarquinius Superbus 534-510 BCE
Roman Emperors Julio-Claudian Dynasty • • • • •
Augustus 27 BCE – 14 CE Tiberius 14-37 CE Caligula 37-41 CE Claudius 41-54 CE Nero 54-68 CE
Flavian Dynasty: • • •
Vespasian 69-79 CE Titus 79-81 CE Domitian 81-96 CE
Antonines • • • • • •
Trajan 98-117 CE Hadrian 117-138 CE Antoninus Pius 138-161 CE Marcus Aurelius 161-180 CE Lucius Verus 161-169 CE Commodus 180-192 CE
Severan Dynasty • • •
Septimius Severus 193-211 CE Caracalla 211-217 CE Geta 211-211 CE
Late Third Century and Fourth Century • •
Diocletian 284-305 CE Constantine 306-337 CE
A Brief History of Roman Art If one wanted to summarize imperial Roman art, it is influenced by the Greeks and all about power, politics, and propaganda. In terms of its Greek influences, the Romans did not just slavishly copy the Greek art that they so admired but transformed it into a new Roman vocabulary, shaping it to serve their own purposes. Greek influences like the classical orders were translated into new Roman terms. For example, the Romans adopted the post and lintel architectural system but added engaged columns to it. The Romans also added their own new type of architectural system, one that was based on the arch. In short, the post and lintel system had limitations in how high one could build and the Romans wanted tall structures without interior supports. Ann arch better distributed the weight to the ground, which allowed the Romans to create massive interior spaces without using interior supports. The Romans also changed the type of building materials. While they still utilized stone, the Romans added a new, groundbreaking material to their repertoire: concrete. With several distinct advantages over stone, like its lightness, malleability, and lower cost, concrete allowed the Romans, along with the arch, to start thinking about architecture in new, revolutionary ways. The arch, and barrel vaults, groin vaults, and domes, are ubiquitous throughout Roman architecture. In addition, to save on costs, buildings were often revetted, or covered with, expensive materials like marble or travertine while behind this were less costly materials like bricks and concrete. This is visible in the Colosseum, where much of the more expensive travertine was removed to be used in other building sites, leaving the bricks underneath exposed. The buildings of Rome were often covered, inside and out, with various types of art. From architectural and freestanding sculpture to mosaics and wall paintings, Roman art was focused on power, politics, and propaganda. Emperors, beginning with Augustus, realized the power images had to persuade and thus exploited art to express their ideologies. Art was utilized to legitimize an emperor's right to rule, whether he was the son, adopted son, or a member of a new dynasty. Typically, a way to emphasize the emperor's power was to advertise a military victory or other major accomplishment in an artwork, which would then be displayed publicly for the entire city to see. Sometimes, a new emperor would connect himself back to his predecessor, or even stretch further back to someone like Augustus, trying to strengthen the link to past rulers. On other occasions, an emperor either subtly or overtly referred to their divine lineage, or connection to the gods. In this manner, the viewer would
Art in Rome: From Antiquity to the Present
undoubtedly be impressed by the emperor having the gods on his side, or in later cases, a deity himself. Regular Romans also commissioned art, whether a freed slave with new wealth who could afford a tomb along the Via Appia Antica, or a wealthy patrician who wanted to show allegiance to the emperor. Like imperial art, non-imperial artistic commissions sought to communicate the patron's status, taste, and political connections. While most of the sections in this book focus on imperial art, there are a couple examples of art commissioned by everyday Romans. As in architecture, the Romans were highly influenced by the Greeks in other arts as well, though they put their own spin on this influence. While the Greeks preferred allegory, staying away from showing specific battles (as can be evidenced in the metopes of the Parthenon), the Romans were always about specificity. They wanted to show themselves, their accomplishments, and their battles. Consequently, in Roman art, specific historical figures, battles, and events can more easily be identified. One thing that the Romans adopted from the Greeks was the classicizing, naturalistic style. The Greeks placed a high value on illusionism and their art developed towards the attainment of that naturalism, as can be seen in Classical, Late Classical, and Hellenistic art. The Romans picked up where the Greeks left off and for much of the Roman Republic and Empire, the art is highly naturalistic. Proportions of figures are realistic (though sometimes the proportions of figures to buildings is off) and a recession in space is clear. Sometimes the figures are idealized, meaning they appear perfect. Other emperors sometimes depicted themselves more realistically, like the veristic (hyper-realistic) sculptures of the Republic. In these cases, the age of the person is emphasized, with every wrinkle clearly delineated. As the Roman Empire progressed, though, a change occurred. A less naturalistic style came to dominate, particularly by the late second century CE: the proportions of figures become short and stocky; space is depicted by overlapping and stacking; there are multiple groundlines; all the figures look almost the same. This less naturalistic style is not a reflection of talent, or lack thereof, but rather that there was a desire for something different and that the artists did not value naturalism as they had in the past. By the fourth century CE, this less naturalistic style dominated art and would do so, though there are certainly exceptions to the rule, until the dawning of the Renaissance.
A Brief History of Medieval Art in Rome The Medieval period, which lasts roughly from 400-1400 CE in Europe, is alternately called the Middle Ages and the Dark Ages. After the sack of Rome in 410 CE and the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Italy was then part of the Byzantine Empire and the Holy Roman Empire. By the ninth century CE, the papacy in Rome came to dominate and would be the driving force in artistic creation through the Baroque period. Italy was not a unified country, and would not be until the nineteenth century. Instead, during the medieval period, many city-states and kingdoms emerged in Italy, like Florence, Venice, and Siena. These cities often competed to have the status of having the biggest, and most splendid, art. In the Renaissance period, when classical antiquity was lauded and emulated, art historians like Giorgio Vasari vilified and derided the art of the medieval period, calling it unsophisticated and lacking in skill, due to its unnaturalistic style. Therefore, the art of Greece and Rome, along with the Renaissance, were placed on pedestals while the art of the Middle Ages was regarded as inferior. However, it must be stated that the lack of naturalism that is predominant in medieval art should not be a sign of its inferiority. Rather, the artists during this time had different goals. Not every culture places a high premium on naturalism, and from 400-1400, most of the art in Europe is an example of that. This less naturalistic style began to emerge during the Roman Empire. In medieval art, we continue to see how the proportions of figures are off, there is a lack of individuality, and there is usually no ground-line nor any accurate depiction of space. In addition, the figures are typically twodimensional and flat, without any shading in light and dark to give them a sense of volume and mass. Furthermore, compositions are typically symmetrical. In Rome, the medieval art that predominates are the frescoes and mosaics that decorate the many churches of the city. Elaborate and sumptuous, the mosaics cover the nave walls, the vaults, the apses, the triumphal arches, and other zones within the church. Because these decorate Christian churches, the subjects are also Christian, many centering around the Virgin Mary, Christ, and saints. Within these mosaics, though, the artists borrow pagan iconography from the Roman Empire. After all, pagan images abounded and the medieval artists would have seen examples of it throughout the city. While pagan iconography was used ubiquitously, it must be noted that it was transformed into a new Christian meaning. For example, grapes and chubby winged babies are often found in Roman art and referenced Bacchus and his attendants. In
Art in Rome: From Antiquity to the Present
Christian art, the babies become angels and the grapes are a symbol of the Eucharist. Frescoes likewise have a pagan influence. From the walls of catacombs to the Early Christian churches of Rome, paintings continued to be used. By the end of the medieval period, a more naturalistic style was beginning to take hold, a foreshadowing of the Renaissance. In terms of architecture, with the legalization of Christianity and new opportunity to build churches beginning in the fourth century CE, Constantine used the pagan basilica as his model for the new Christian church. With a long central nave flanked by side aisles, all leading to the apse where the priest would lead mass, the Christian basilica could accommodate the entire congregation and would be used throughout Europe. In Italy, Early Christian and medieval churches were characterized by their flat, coffered ceilings and their appropriation of ancient Roman building materials. Important Medieval Popes • • • •
St. Peter, 30/30-64/68 St. Clement I, 88-99 St. Callixtus I, 217-222 St. Julius I, 337-352
A Brief History of Renaissance and Baroque Art in Rome The power of the popes continued and increased during the Renaissance period, roughly the fifteenth through the sixteenth centuries. With their great wealth, the popes commissioned some of the world's best known artworks, including the Sistine Chapel. During the Renaissance, Italy continued to be made up of city-states, kingdoms, and the papal state. The Renaissance began in Florence, Italy in the fourteenth century and blossomed in the 1400s, eventually spreading throughout the Italian peninsula and then to northern Europe. By the beginning of the sixteenth century, the hub of the Renaissance had shifted to Rome, where the papacy and other important members of the clergy and aristocracy eagerly commissioned artworks and buildings. After the Middle Ages, the Renaissance was a rebirth of antiquity and a was a time of renewed interest in ancient Greece and Rome. It was also a time that saw the rise of humanism, a popular philosophy that saw the potential of every human being and praised his accomplishments (his, because women still had a difficult time being successful outside the
home). As a result, the Renaissance became a time of the artistic genius. While few artists of the Middle Ages are known by name, the Renaissance, because of humanism, revered the great artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael. In art and architecture, these artists were greatly influenced by ancient Greece and Rome. First, the style of Renaissance art was highly naturalistic. Unlike the two-dimensional figures of medieval frescoes and paintings, the people in Renaissance artworks were three-dimensional and modeled in light and dark. Proportions were also correct, they were neither short and stocky nor elongated. Artists observed the world around them empirically and wanted their paintings or sculptures to be a window into the world. In addition, most Italian Renaissance artists were obsessed with creating a realistic depiction of space, something that held little interest for a medieval artist. To create this recession, artists utilized different perspectival systems, including linear perspective, foreshortening, and atmospheric perspective. In short, Italian Renaissance art was all about illusionism and naturalism, like their Greek and Roman predecessors. Because of the renewed interest in ancient Greece and Rome, many artists also studied ancient texts and mythology. Thus, classical mythology is often a subject of Italian Renaissance art. One need only to think of Botticelli's Birth of Venus or Primavera in the Uffizi for an example of this. In architecture, many classical characteristics were borrowed and translated into a new Renaissance vocabulary. Pediments, entablatures, arches, coffers, the classical orders, and many other ancient Greek and Roman architectural elements can be seen in Renaissance architecture and representations of architecture in painting and sculpture. During the Baroque era, or the seventeenth century, the papacy in Rome continued to dominate. However, its lavish spending created dissension in the Church and caused the Protestant Reformation. Disgusted by this spending, indulgences, corruption of the clergy and popes, and the worshipping of images, among many other things, in 1517 Martin Luther posted his ninety-nine theses to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral in Germany to break away from the Catholic Church, thus forming the Protestant (or Lutheran, as it is sometimes called) church. The Catholic Church enacted a counter-attack, the Counter Reformation, in which they tried to bring people back into the fold of the true church. One way to do this was to create art that would be easy to understand and that would inspire. Thus, much of the art of the seventeenth century continued to be religious and propagandistic, as it was meant to bring those Protestants back into the Catholic Church.
Art in Rome: From Antiquity to the Present
Baroque art was also a reaction against the rationalism and logic of the Renaissance period. While it was still highly naturalistic, like the Renaissance, Baroque art was much more emotional. To that end, many artists often depicted the most dramatic part of the story heighten the drama and emotion, heightening the suspense. In addition, artists utilized chiaroscuro, which translates as "light" and "dark," to further emphasize drama, as if the scene was taking place on the stage. Chiaroscuro, with its dramatic contrast on light and dark, plunged the background into inky darkness while the main figures were highlighted by bright light, almost like a stage's spotlight. Baroque architecture also exhibited many of these qualities. While still influenced by classical antiquity, there was a new sense of dynamism and movement, with undulating and moving facades and the viewer's experience of a space now more important. Important Renaissance and Baroque Popes • • • • • •
Sixtus IV Julius II/Giuliano della Rovere 1503-1513 Paul III/Alessandro Farnese 1534-1549 Urban VIII/Maffeo Barberini 1623-1644 Innocent X/Giovanni Battista Pamphili 1644-1655 Alexander VII/Fabrio Chigi 1655-1667
A Brief History of Modern Rome (18th to 20th Centuries) During the eighteenth century, Rome was a huge tourist destination, especially for aristocrats taking their "Grand Tours" of Europe. Usually beginning in London or Paris, the goal of the Grand Tour was Italy. Travelers first stopped in Venice and Florence, but the most important place was Rome, where the tourists could admire the monuments of ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque Rome. Artists, if their financial situations allowed it, also made their own artistic pilgrimages to Rome. One way to finance studies in Rome was for an artist to win the Prix de Rome, or Rome Prize, a prestigious award that provided funding for three to five years of studying and living in Rome, allowing artists to soak up their surroundings and the plethora of masterpieces that abounded within the city. In addition, the eighteenth century witnessed the first systematic, modern archaeological excavations. In 1748, Herculaneum, and subsequently Pompeii, were discovered in the Bay of Naples. Buried by
the ash and lava for over a millennium, excavations enthusiastically uncovered these Roman towns that were filled with houses and an abundance of art. Some of these works made their way into royal and papal collections while others traveled further afield, returning home with the Grand Tourists when their trips were completed. Because of this, interest in antiquity and the classical world grew steadily in the eighteenth century and even helped influence the Neoclassical art movement. In Rome, the eighteenth century saw the beginnings of public art museums. The papacy, afraid that many of the recently uncovered archaeological finds would be swooped up by others, started buying artworks for the papal collection in the Vatican. Pope Clement XIV also inaugurated a new museum in the Vatican in 1769, to protect these artworks and foster understanding of them. The museum displayed the Vatican's collection of ancient sculpture began by Pope Julius II in the beginning of the sixteenth century. Clement XIV greatly added to this collection, as did his successor, Pius VI. The resulting museum was named the Pio-Clementino, named after Clement and Pius. By the end of the eighteenth century, Italy was occupied by the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who looted much of the country's art, absconding back to France with these treasures. Italy would subsequently be occupied from 1800-1814 by the French, with the Kingdom of Italy in the north and the Kingdom of the Holy Roman Empire in the south. Following Napoleon's occupation and subsequent defeat, Italy returned to being a conglomeration of city-states and kingdoms. But there was increasing desire for an independent Italy. The period from 1796-1861 is referred to as the Risorgimento, which translates as "Rising Again." In 1861, a unified Italy was established and was coupled with a desire to glorify the new Italy and the country's connection to its illustrious past. Vittore Emanuele II was the first king of the newly unified Italy. In the first half of the twentieth century, Italy was dominated by Fascism (1922 to 1946), led by Benito Mussolini. A veteran of World War I, Mussolini led the fascists, who promoted nationalism but were ultimately a right-wing group participating in terrorism and intimidation. Ultimately, Mussolini befriended Adolf Hitler and Italy and Germany were allies during the first part of World War II. But when Germany began to lose the war and the Allies invaded the peninsula, Italy switched sides and joined the Allies. Mussolini was executed after World War II and many fascist monuments and artworks were destroyed or renamed.
Art in Rome: From Antiquity to the Present
Sources Augenti, Andrea. Rome: Art and Archaeology. Florence: Scala, 2007. Coarelli, Filippo. Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide. Translated by James J. Clauss and Daniel P. Harmon. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. Grant, Michael. History of Rome. Faber: London, 1979. Harris, Ann Sutherland. Seventeenth-Century Art and Architecture. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd., 2005. Hartt, Frederick and David G. Wilkins. History of Italian Renaissance Art. Seventh edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2011. Hibbert, Christopher. Rome: The Biography of a City. London: Penguin Books, 1985. Holmes, George. The Oxford History of Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Kleiner, Diana E.E. Roman Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. Lenzi, Carlotta. Neoclassicism: Masterpieces in Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture. New York: Baker and Nobles, 2007. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Martin, John Rupert. Baroque. New York: Harper and Row, 1977. Painter, Borden W. Mussolini’s Rome: Rebuilding the Eternal City. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005. Ramage, Nancy H. and Andrew Ramage. Roman Art and Architecture. Fifth Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. Wittkower, Rudolf. Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600-1750. Volumes 13. 4th edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.
CHAPTER ONE THE ROMAN FORUM AND COLOSSEUM
Introduction This chapter examines two of the most important sites of ancient Rome: the Forum Romanum, or Roman Forum, and the Colosseum. From its inception as a city, Rome utilized the marshy area between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, first as a necropolis and then as the busy hub of the bustling city, with marketplaces, temples, and government buildings. Never lost to history, the Forum Romanum has always been a testament to the power of ancient Rome. At the edge of the Forum Romanum, at the terminus of the Via Sacra, is the most iconic monument of the Roman Empire: the Flavian Amphitheater, or Colosseum. Constructed by the Flavian dynasty in the late first century CE, the Colosseum was the first permanent amphitheater in Rome and provided endless entertaining events for the citizens of the Eternal City.
The Roman Forum At the heart of ancient Rome was the Forum Romanum (Figures 1.1 and 1.2), a large marketplace that was the central district of the city and included temples, basilicas, government buildings, and commemorative arches. Rome was not the only city in the ancient world to have a forum – this was a typical feature of any Roman town. During the expansion of the Roman Empire, mini-Romes were created when new territories and provinces were added. All these new "Romes" had fora within them.
The Roman Forum and Colosseum
Figure 1.1: The Forum Romanum, Rome. Source: Public Domain.
The Forum Romanum is nestled in a plateau between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills. Before the forum was built, this area was a marshy swamp. By the eighth century BCE, the plateau was already in use as burial site for people who lived on the Palatine Hill. In the seventh century BCE, during the reigns of Tarquinius Superbus and Servius Tullius, the marsh was turned into a plateau by filling the swamp with a massive amount of dirt. From the seventh century BCE onward, the space was used as a marketplace for the city. Nothing was ever built over the Forum Romanum (unlike the complicated Palatine Hill with its numerous renovations and rebuildings). As a result, a visit to the Forum Romanum reveals the development of the city from the time of the kings through the Republic and into the Roman Empire. Excavations at the Forum Romanum continue to this day, discovering new things about ancient Rome all the time. Most visitors enter the Forum Romanum from the side entrance off the Via dei Fori Imperiali. This large boulevard was constructed by the fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, from 1924-1932 (see Chapter 2 for a more detailed discussion of this street). The construction of this huge road was controversial because Mussolini, as he tried to highlight the glories of
ancient Rome, simultaneously destroyed many of those ancient monuments and remains.
Figure 1.2: Forum Romanum Reconstruction. Source: Mark Miller.
After descending into the Forum Romanum from the ramp off the Via dei Fori Imperiali, the visitor stands in one of the oldest roads of Rome, the Via Sacra or Sacred Way. This road stretches across the entire length of the Forum, from the Arch of Titus at the east to the Temple of Saturn at the west. In addition to connecting many of the most important monuments of the Forum Romanum, the Via Sacra was also an important part of the route of an emperor’s triumphal procession, a grand celebration that honored the victorious leader. Following an important conquest, the emperor returned home with his spoils and captives, all of which were put on display for all citizens of Rome to see during the triumphal procession. People lined the streets to view the parade. Each triumphal procession followed a specific route, winding its way through Rome, past the Circus Maximus, through the Arch of Constantine and Arch of Titus, down the Via Sacra of the Forum Romanum, until it finally ascended to the top of the Capitoline Hill where the activity culminated at the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. Along the Via Sacra are many of the most important buildings in the entire Forum Romanum. Turning right after descending the ramp, the remains the Basilica Aemelia (Figure 1.3) are visible. In ancient Rome, a basilica was used for civic functions; the building had no religious function. (When Constantine legalized Christianity with the Edict of Milan in 313 CE, the emperor decided to use the pagan basilica as his model for
The Roman Forum and Colosseum
the early Christian churches that were constructed throughout the city. Therefore it was not until the fourth century and the legalization of Christianity that the pagan basilica obtained a religious function.) There are three major basilicas within the Forum Romanum: the Basilica Aemelia, the Basilica Julia, and the Basilica of Constantine/Maxentius. Of these three, the Basilica Aemelia is the only one from the Republican period and it dates to 179 BCE. Despite the fact that the three basilicas were built during different time periods, all three rely on the same format. First, a basilica was typically rectangular or longitudinal in plan and very large. Inside, a basilica has a long central aisle called a nave. Flanking the nave are side aisles (usually one or two on either side) and these are delineated with columns. At the short ends were apses, or semi-circular sections. Basilicas were multi-storied and the upper level had a series of windows called a clerestory, which allowed light into the rest of the basilica. Many pagan basilicas, like the ones in the Forum Romanum, had flat, coffered ceilings. Not much of the Basilica Aemelia remains except for the drums of the columns that were used to demarcate the side aisles, and thus, like many ruins within the Forum Romanum, a reconstruction is necessary to envisage its original grandeur. Originally, the Basilica Aemelia measured roughly 100 meters long by 30 meters wide and consisted of three stories. Along the street, when one viewed the Basilica Aemelia, the façade consisted of sixteen arches and there were three entrances.
Figure 1.3: Reconstruction of the Basilica Aemelia. Source: L.VII.C., 2012.
West of the Basilica Aemelia is the political center of ancient Rome, which consisted of the Curia Julia, Comitium, and the imperial Rostra.
The Curia Julia (Figure 1.4) was the senate building. Made of brick, Julius Caesar started the building of the Curia in 52 BCE after a fire destroyed the earlier building. Octavian (who would become Augustus and was the adopted son of Julius Caesar) inaugurated the Curia Julia in 29 BCE, two years before becoming emperor. During the tetrarchy of the late third century, the Curia Julia was reconstructed again. Prior to World War II, during 1930-36, the Curia Julia was restored to the third century CE version, which is why the building is remarkably well-preserved today. The Curia Julia is rectangular and the interior was large enough to accommodate all three hundred Roman senators. The interior is divided into three parts, with a long central aisle running along its long side. On either side of the central aisle were three tiers of seats where the senators would sit. At the end of the Curia, in between the two sections of seating, there was a podium where the presiding senator could speak (or later, the emperor). In the nineteenth century, the Italian painter Cesare Maccari envisioned the famous Catiline conspiracy, with Cicero denouncing Catiline, in a fresco from the Palazzo Madama in Rome. This gives us an idea of what a populated Curia Julia would look like in antiquity.
Figure 1.4: Reconstruction of the Curia Julia. Source: L.VII.C, 2012.
The Roman Forum and Colosseum
Just south of the Curia Julia is the Comitium, which was an open-air area where trials would take place. Finally, south of the Curia Julia and Comitium is the location of the original rostra, or the orator’s tribune. Originally, it was 3 meters high, 23 meters long, and 12 meters deep. The rostra was a podium from which speakers would address the populace. An emperor or orator, like Cicero, would stand at the rostra and face the Curia Julia and Comitium as he addressed the crowd. The rostra received its name from its decoration: the original podium was covered with rostra, which were the iron beaks of the ships from the Battle of Antium in the fourth century BCE. Between the Rostra and the Curia Julia is the majestic Arch of Septimius Severus (Figure 1.5) from the late third century CE. Triumphal arches, like a forum, were another typical feature of a Roman town. After an important victory, the Roman emperor would erect an arch to celebrate his victory. Like other Roman monuments, the triumphal arch served a propagandistic purpose because anyone that saw the arch would know that the emperor was victorious. To that end, the Arch of Septimius Severus was carefully situated on the triumphal processional route, highlighting the importance of the emperor and his victory over the Parthians. The ample sculptures on the Arch of Septimius Severus serve to further emphasize his victory, legitimizing the Severan dynasty’s right to rule the Roman Empire.
Figure 1.5: Arch of Septimius Severus, Rome. Source: Alexander Z, 2005.
The Arch of Septimius Severus was dedicated in 203 CE; much of the triumphal arch was restored in 1988. It was the first three-bayed arch in the city of Rome and it is huge, measuring at 21 meters high and 23 meters wide. It is reveted in marble and there is one large central arch with two smaller arches on either side. Corinthian columns flank the arches and support the attic above, which contains an inscription in Latin that honors Septimius Severus, the Severan dynasty, and Severus’ victory over the Parthians. In particular, the inscription states that the arch was dedicated by the Roman senate and the people of Rome to Septimius Severus on the tenth anniversary of his reign as emperor; also to his sons (Caracalla and Geta); and finally for his victories over the Parthians. The location of the Arch of Septimius Severus was deliberate and conscious as the triumphal procession would have passed directly through the central bay as it made its way down the Via Sacra and up the Capitoline Hill. Furthermore, the Arch of Septimius Severus was originally next to Augustus’ Parthian Arch, a monument that no longer exists. Through this careful placement, Septimius Severus connected himself to Augustus, his predecessor of the Golden Age, who likewise had a successful victory over the Parthians. In addition to this arch in Rome, Septimius Severus also had a triumphal arch constructed in his north African hometown of Leptis Magna, which is in modern day Libya. Sculpture covers the Arch of Septimius Severus on both sides. The larger spandrels contain female Victories holding trophies on long poles, which is typical motif in Roman triumphal arches. Both the Arch of Titus and Arch of Constantine have this same motif and in all cases, the use of Victories serves to emphasize the conquests of the emperors. The smaller spandrels over the side arches have river gods. The pedestals of the Corinthian columns are also carved and underscore the victory over the Parthians as they contain scenes of captured Parthians escorted by Roman soldiers. Above the small arches, on both the front and the back of the arch, are large rectangular spaces that contain narrative relief sculptures. Each of these sculptures focuses on Septimius Severus and serves a propagandistic purpose, reinforcing the emperor’s victory over the Parthians. The Arch of Septimius Severus dates to the early third century CE and during the late Empire, a new, more abstract style began to dominate art. Prior to this, from the late first century CE through the second century CE, the art of the Roman Empire was highly naturalistic, mimicking the style of the Greeks. By the third century CE, however, this style was evolving into something less naturalistic. Time and space are conflated within the same compositional zone; sometimes there are multiple ground-lines. The
The Roman Forum and Colosseum
figures start to look alike and lack individuality. In addition, the proportions of the figures are off; they are short and squat, usually with larger heads. The folds of the drapery are regular and almost patterned, unlike the way garments fall and drape. These abstract and unnaturalistic characteristics are evident in the relief panels of the Arch of Septimius Severus. The panels themselves have suffered erosion, so making out the subject and what is happening in them is difficult. Luckily, during the seventeenth century (when the monument was much better preserved), the Italian engraver, Pietro Santi Bartoli, made a series of prints of the Arch of Septimius Severus, giving us a better view of what these relief sculptures would have looked like. The northwest panel depicts the seizing of two cities by Septimius Severus and his son, Caracalla: Seleucia and Babylon. The figures, when they are not eroded, all look the same and have similar patterned drapery. There are also multiple ground-lines, making the composition appear to be a confusing mess. While the style might differ from previous works of the Roman Empire, the political message remains the same. The Severan dynasty is advertising an important victory and legitimizing their right to rule. Septimius Severus wants all of Rome to see his important victory and accept him as the rightful heir to the throne of the Roman Empire.
Figure 1.6: Temple of Saturn. Source: Rennett Stowe, 2007.
South of the Arch of Septimius Severus is another road, the Via Nova, and the Temple of Saturn (Figure 1.6). The Via Nova, or “New Way,” was the second most important road within the Forum Romanum and is parallel to the Via Sacra. The Via Nova runs along the southern sections of the Palatine Hill, where many of the emperors built their lavish palaces. This road probably served as a point of communication between the Forum Romanum and the Palatine Hill looming behind it. The Temple of Saturn, like much of the Forum Romanum, is in ruins. It is one of the oldest temples within the forum and dates to the beginning of the Roman Republic in 498 BCE, though it was later rebuilt in 42 BCE. Dedicated to Saturn, the god of Italy, all that remains today is a high podium with six columns on the front and two along the sides, along with the entablature and part of a pediment on the very top. Like a forum, temples were another standard feature in any Roman town. The architecture of Roman temples was influenced by both Greek and Etruscan structures. The Romans were enamored with Greek art and architecture and borrowed extensively from the earlier civilization. The Romans used the classical orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian – and added the Composite order) and modified the Greek gods to suit their Roman purposes. Greek temples consisted of freestanding columns with pediments, friezes, entablatures, and cellae – the Romans adopted all these architectural features. Like the Greeks, the Romans also used both the longitudinal and centralized plans for their temples. But the Romans were eclectic, borrowing from a variety of sources, not just Greek architecture. For example, the Romans also looked to the Etruscan civilization for inspiration. The Etruscans flourished on the Italian peninsula long before the Romans; remains of their civilization can still be seen throughout Tuscany today. From the Etruscans, the Romans took the high podium, single flight of stairs, and deep porch. Thus, Roman temples combine both Greek and Etruscan characteristics, adding some uniquely Roman elements as well, to create something that is entirely new. Returning to the Temple of Saturn, the temple originally had many standard features of a Roman temple. First, the Temple of Saturn has a high podium that is accessed by a single flight of stairs. The temple is hexastyle with six columns on its front façade. The colossal columns are made of grey granite; they measure about 11 meters in height and are of the Ionic order. The two columns on either side are made of red granite. Inside the Temple of Saturn, there would have been an impressive cult statue of the god of Italy. Only the most important people would have been allowed inside the Temple of Saturn. Unlike Christianity, in the pagan religions of Greece and Rome, temples were viewed as the abode of the
The Roman Forum and Colosseum
god. Typically, the temple would house a cult statue of the deity to whom the temple is dedicated. Offerings would be brought to the cult statue to honor the god. Common people could perform sacrifices outside the temple, but they could not actually go inside the temple. In addition, as was often the case in Greece and Rome, the temple was used as a state treasury and served as a storage facility for caches of gold and silver ingots and coins. The Parthenon in Athens likewise served as a depository. On the other side of the Via Sacra is the Basilica Julia (Figure 1.7), which was built on an even larger scale than the nearby Basilica Aemelia. Julius Caesar began the building project in 54 BCE, ten years prior to his assassination. A rectangular building measuring 101 meters long and 49 meters wide, the Basilica Julia had a long central nave flanked on all sides by two side aisles. Multi-storied, like the Basilica Aemelia, the Basilica Julia was also used for civic purposes such as business meetings.
Figure 1.7: Reconstruction of the Basilica Julia. Source: L.VII.C., 2012.
Continuing east on the Via Nova, one arrives at the Temple of Vesta (Figure 1.8) and the House of the Vestas, two buildings that continue to fascinate people. The vestal virgins were priestesses of the Vesta, the goddess of the hearth. At any one time, there were always six vestal virgins. During the early history of Rome, these girls were chosen by the king. Later in the Republic and Empire, the vestal virgins were designated by the Pontifex Maximus, or chief priest of Rome (during the Roman Empire, the Pontifex Maximus was always the emperor). To be chosen for this honor, there were certain criteria that a young girl had to possess. First, she must be six to ten years of age and come from a patrician family. Once elected to be a vestal virgin, the girl was required to
devote the next thirty years to her service. The first ten years were used to learn all the duties required of a vestal virgin. During the middle ten years, the vestal virgin performed her duties. Finally, in the last ten years the vestal virgins taught those duties to the new novitiates. For these thirty years, the vestal virgins, as their name suggests, were required to remain chaste. If they did not remain virgins, they could be buried alive. If she remained a virgin and performed her duties, after thirty years a vestal virgin could leave and get married, if she so chose. If anyone harmed a vestal virgin, they could be executed.
Figure 1.8: Temple of Vesta. Source: Wknight94, 2008.
Because Vesta was responsible for the hearth, it was the vestal virgins’ job to always keep the fire lit. The fire symbolized Rome itself and if the flame went out, that meant that Rome too could be extinguished. If she
The Roman Forum and Colosseum
ever neglected her duties and let the fire go out, her punishment would be a whipping from the Pontifex Maximus. It was within the Temple of Vesta in the Forum Romanum that the fire was to be kept burning. The Temple of Vesta is circular in plan and has twenty marble Corinthian columns circling its exterior. On the interior is a circular, walled cella which would have held the sacred hearth and flame. As is typical in Roman architecture, the temple rests on a high podium; this one is 15 meters in diameter. This circular form was meant to recall the deep history of Rome and allude to the circular huts of the city’s earliest history. The House of The Vestals (Figure 1.9) is behind the Temple of Vesta and seems too large for only six people. There is a possibility that the Pontifex Maximus also lived there, especially earlier in Rome’s history. In the center of the house is a large courtyard measuring 61 meters by 20 meters, in the middle of which were three ponds of various shapes and sizes. A two-storied portico surrounded the courtyard.
Figure 1.9: Reconstruction of the House of the Vestals. Source: Public Domain.
Back on the Via Sacra and next to Basilica Aemelia is the second century CE Temple of Antoninus and Faustina (Figure 1.10). This is the best-preserved temple in the Forum Romanum because it was converted into a Christian church and therefore maintained continuously throughout the centuries. In the sixteenth century, a Baroque façade was added to the temple.
Dedicated in 141 CE, the temple was built to honor the memory of the emperor Antoninus Pius and his wife, Faustina. Like other Roman temples, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina is built on a high podium with a single flight of stairs on the front, which leads to the pronaos, or porch. The temple is hexastyle Corinthian; the columns are monolithic and measure 17 meters in height. There are two columns on either side.
Figure 1.10: Reconstruction of the Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina. Source: L.VII.C., 2012.
Moving further eastward on the Via Sacra, one encounters the bestpreserved basilica in the Forum Romanum: the Basilica of Constantine (Figure 1.11), which is sometimes referred to as the Basilica Maxentius because Maxentius began the construction of this building. After becoming sole emperor of Rome, Constantine continued Maxentius’ project and renamed the building after himself.
The Roman Forum and Colosseum
The Basilica of Constantine, though completed by the (eventually) Christian Constantine, is nevertheless an example of a civic building. While Constantine legalized Christianity with the Edict of Milan in 313 CE, the emperor still continued to practice the pagan rituals of ancient Rome. He constructed new Christian churches that had the layout of the pagan basilica – and he also continued to build pagan structures, to appease the portion of the Roman populace that still adhered to the traditional religion. The Basilica of Constantine is one of these pagan commissions. The building, like the others in the Forum Romanum, was used for such civic activities like law courts and business meetings.
Figure 1.11: Plan of the Basilica of Constantine. Source: Public Domain.
The Basilica of Constantine was the largest structure within the Forum Romanum. Longitudinal in plan, the basilica measures roughly 100 meters long by 65 meters wide. On the interior, the Basilica of Constantine has a long central nave and flanking either side is a single side aisle that is marked by large piers that measured almost fifteen meters high. There are two apses in the basilica: one on the west side and one on the north.
During the time of Constantine, the western apse held a colossal sculpture of Constantine, which most likely would have served a political and propagandistic purpose. Any person doing business within the Basilica of Constantine could not fail to see this huge, impressive sculpture of the emperor. The remains of this massive sculpture are on display in the Capitoline Museums. Viewing the remains of the Basilica of Constantine, one can only see the vestiges of its former, majestic self. What exists today are three enormous barrel vaults, piers, and the clerestory. This was the northern side aisle, which was separated from the nave by the piers. Within the side aisles are coffered barrel vaults that were constructed of concrete – the arch, barrel vault, and use of concrete are all hallmarks of Roman architecture. Soaring almost 25 meters in height, this basilica was one of the tallest, most impressive structures within the Forum Romanum. One must use imagination to envision what the basilica originally looked like: a huge, soaring building’s floors covered in colored marbles laid out in intricate patterns. Everything was covered in more costly materials, giving the visitor an impression of great wealth. Originally, Constantine planned to have a single entrance on the eastern side of the basilica. However, he decided that he wanted the building to take advantage of its placement along the Via Sacra and thus he moved the entrance to the south and he added a portico to this section as well. Twisting around the Via Sacra, one arrives at a second triumphal arch within the Forum Romanum: the Arch of Titus (Figure 1.12), which dates to about 81 CE and was built and dedicated by Domitian, the youngest son of the emperor Vespasian and brother to Titus. These three men formed the short Flavian dynasty, which took over after the Julio-Claudians. Like the previous dynasty, the Flavians used art as political propaganda and tried to legitimize their right to rule by promoting their victory in the Jewish War of 66-73 CE. As was typical of a Roman emperor, the Flavians had a triumphal arch constructed to celebrate this victory. As the Latin inscription in the attic states, the senate and the people of Rome dedicated this arch to the deceased and divine Titus, who in turn was the son of divine Vespasian. Like the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Arch of Titus was placed in an important spot on the triumphal procession that wound its way through the city of Rome during the triumph. The Arch of Titus is made of Parian marble and it is a single-bayed arch that is about 15 meters in height, 13.5 meters wide and almost 5 meters in depth. The single arch in the center creates a deep barrel vault, which is flanked by an engaged Corinthian column on either side. At the
The Roman Forum and Colosseum
edges of the triumphal arch are two additional Corinthian engaged columns on the corners. These columns support an entablature and the large attic that holds the honorific inscription.
Figure 1.12: Arch of Titus. Source: Rabax63, 2013.
The Arch of Titus has some sculpture on it, though not nearly as much as the nearby Arches of Septimius Severus or Constantine. Looking at the front of the monument, the Arch of Titus seems remarkably plain when compared to the other two, though there are some sculptures on the façade. First, in the spandrels of the arch are winged Victories, a standard motif. In the Arch of Titus, the Victories are aloft and hold various items including trophies, laurel crows, and palm branches, all of which are symbols of victory and conquest. Also, on the narrow entablature of the Arch of Titus there is another zone of sculptural decoration. Though hard to see from below, the sculpture contains a procession of figures and animals. This is a
scene of the joint triumph of Vespasian and Titus in 71 CE. The figures in this narrow section are carved in high relief so that they are a little easier to see from below. When passing through the barrel-vaulted arch, there are two large sculptures on either side. Both measure about 2 meters tall and are narrative scenes aggrandizing Titus, which is appropriate since the arch is dedicated to this emperor. In particular, the two scenes are from Titus’ triumphal procession in 71 CE: the spoils of Jerusalem and the emperor in his chariot during the triumphal procession. In both relief sculptures, the figures move from left to right, as if they are making their way along the Via Sacra during the triumphal procession, and eventually would have reached the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill. First, the interior bay contains a scene with the spoils of Jerusalem. As was previously mentioned, during any conquest, the Roman general and army took spoils and booty from the captive barbarian nation. This loot was then brought back to Rome, where it was paraded through the streets during the Roman triumph. Placards were held by Roman soldiers, which would identify to the viewers along the street (at least those that were literate) what they were looking at. That is the subject that decorates the first relief in the bay of the Arch of Titus: the spoils taken from Jerusalem, specifically the Jewish temple. As is typical of Roman art of the first century CE, the style is highly naturalistic, especially when compared to the later Arch of Septimius Severus. In the spoils scene, the Roman soldiers are correctly proportioned and are three-dimensional. The varied relief of the sculpture, with figures in the back in lower relief and figures in the front in higher relief, gives the viewer a sense of depth and recession. Many of the Roman soldiers are depicted in profile as they parade through the streets of Rome during the triumphal procession, the muscles of their arms and legs straining with carrying the heavy spoils taken from the Temple of Jerusalem. In the center, the prized object taken from the temple is clearly scene: the menorah, which is carried on the shoulders of the soldiers. Other soldiers in front and behind the menorah hold placards that are attached to poles, which would have identified the booty. The solders process towards the right toward a triumphal arch, in the spandreal of which is a victory who holds a laurel wreath and palm branch, much like the victories on the spandrels of the actual Arch of Titus. Perhaps this is the Arch of Titus? As an aside, after the triumphal procession, this booty, including the menorah, was displayed in the Templum Pacis (Temple of Peace) in the Forum of Vespasian, just north of the Forum Romanum (see Chapter 2).
The Roman Forum and Colosseum
On the other side of the bay is a relief sculpture depicting another part of the triumphal procession: Titus in his chariot accompanied by other Roman soldiers and gods. Titus stands in his imperial chariot on the right side. In his left hand, he holds a scepter, emphasizing his role as the ruler of Rome. Behind Titus in the chariot is another figure of Victory, who crowns the emperor with a laurel wreath. Standing below the chariot are two figures of deities, most often identified as the Genius Populi Romani and the Genius Senatus. Moving to the left, we see the four horses that drive the quadriga and whom are led by the goddess Roma. Interspersed throughout the rest of the scene are Roman soldiers. In this scene of Titus’ triumph, the emperor is accompanied by gods. Titus stands next to Victory and below him are gods, including Roma. Before the Flavian dynasty, this was not allowed in public relief sculptures. The emperors were not considered gods until they died. But now, around 81 CE, it was permissible to include the emperor mingling with gods, and in fact, on the same playing field. This would become the norm in state relief sculpture. On the top of the barrel vault of the Arch of Titus, there is a relief sculpture depicting the apotheosis of Titus. Surrounding this square relief panel are decorative coffers filled with rosettes. The apotheosis scene contains the head and bust of Titus. In front of the emperor is an eagle with its wings outstretched, the belly visible. Titus is deceased and upon death, he is carried to heaven on the wings of an eagle, where he will then become a god. Before departing the Forum Romanum, heading east on the Via Sacra are the remains of the Temple of Venus and Rome, which was partially designed by the emperor Hadrian during the height of the Roman Empire in the second century CE. Hadrian was the most traveled of the Roman emperors and he visited many of the provinces. He was also a philhellene. He even grew a beard to look more like ancient Greek philosophers, though some scholars have suggested that the beard also served the practical purpose of covering up acne scars. Hadrian visited Athens and traveled throughout the province of Greece, studying the art and architecture of this civilization. Within the city of Rome, he commissioned many important buildings, including the Pantheon (see Chapter 7), and all are indelibly influenced by Greece, including the Temple of Venus and Rome. The Temple of Venus Roma is at the edge of the Forum Romanum, and beyond it is the Colosseum. At the time of construction, the Temple of Venus and Roma was the largest temple of Rome, measuring 145 meters long and 100 meters wide. In antiquity, the façade was massive, stretching
29.5 meters high. The temple is decastyle with huge columns that were about 3 meters in diameter. There was a matching façade on the back. The temple has a peripteral colonnade, which is a typical Greek feature and reflects Hadrian’s love of Greek architecture. Hadrian includes this peripteral colonnade instead of having the traditional deep porch that is common in most Roman temples. On the inside, the Temple of Venus and Roma had two cellae, their backs aligned to one another. At the back of each cella wall was an apse. Because the temple was dedicated to two goddesses, Venus and Roma, each deity needed to have their own cella and corresponding cult statue.
The Colosseum Adjacent to the Forum Romanum, after passing by the Temple of Venus and Roma, is the Colosseum (Figure 1.13), also known as the Flavian Amphitheater. The Colosseum is the undisputed symbol of Rome and her eternity. It stands at the edge of the Forum Romanum and was built on the former site of Nero’s grand Domus Aurea. The massive amphitheater represents the height of Roman engineering, utilizing arches, barrel vaults, groin vaults, and concrete to make a stadium that could hold about 50,000-75,000 people, depending on how large the ancient Roman backside was. Built as a theater in the round, the Colosseum was used for various kinds of entertainment. Gladiators battled against each other and sometimes even with animals (watch the 2000 movie Gladiator with Russell Crowe in his Oscar-winning performance for an example of this). Sometimes animals were pitted against each other and fought to the death. There were also mock sea battles within the Colosseum; the arena floor was flooded and boats where brought in to reenact famous battles. But Christians were not martyred in the Colosseum. There is absolutely no evidence that the early Christians were martyred within the Colosseum. As was the case with other works of Roman art, the Colosseum also served a propagandistic purpose. The Colosseum was built at the very beginning of the Flavian dynasty from 70-80 CE. The patriarch of the Flavian dynasty, Vespasian, along with his son, Titus, wanted to provide Rome with her first permanent amphitheater. While there had previously been temporary amphitheaters prior to the Flavians, Rome did not have a permanent one. The building of this amphitheater was therefore an astute political move that would please the Roman people, who loved their entertainment. Furthermore, the Flavians provided free bread and entertainment to those visiting the amphitheater. The Flavians hoped that
The Roman Forum and Colosseum
keeping the people happy in this manner would quell any riots or disputes to their right to rule. Finally, the Flavians had to legitimize their right to rule and building this huge amphitheater was a way to show off the wealth they had acquired during from their victory in the Jewish Wars. To inaugurate the Colosseum, the Flavians sponsored a 100-day long festival.
Figure 1.13: Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheater). Source: Jerzy Strzelecki, 2013.
Before going inside the Colosseum, an examination of its façade reveals many influences from Greek architecture, though these characteristics are reworked to create something uniquely Roman. The façade is 57 meters tall and has four levels. The first three levels consist of a series of arches; each arch is flanked by an engaged column on either side. Each story has a different classical order. The bottom has the simplest – the Doric order, with its pillow-like capital. The eighty arches on the ground level also served as entrance points into the Colosseum and each are numbered in Roman numerals. Like attending a sporting event today, a ticket indicated the gate that one would enter. On the second level of the Colosseum, the engaged columns flanking the arches are of the Ionic order with elegant volute scrolls. On the third level is the Corinthian order, its capitals decorated with acanthus vines. Finally, the fourth floor has no arches and instead is decorated with square, engaged Corinthian pilasters. The façade was built with travertine, much of which was reused during the medieval and Renaissance periods at places like new St. Peter’s.
On the inside, the Colosseum is elliptical in shape, which allowed for most people, even those at the top, the best view possible towards the arena floor. The interior of the Colosseum was divided into three sections: the arena floor, the podium and the cavea. The seating section was known as the cavea, which is Latin for “enclosure.” Seating was arranged according to social class and seats were made of travertine. The emperor along with his family and entourage were closest to the arena floor, at the podium, and had the best seats of anyone. The podium consisted of the imperial box reserved for the emperor and his entourage along with the rest of the terrace that circled the base of the ellipse. Other important and wealthy people had seats toward the bottom. Making one’s way upward, you descended in social class until all the way at the top you had slaves and women in the nosebleed sections. The large, elliptical arena floor measured 87.5 meters long and 54.8 meters wide and was made of wood and covered with about four inches of sand, which was used for traction but also to soak up the blood from the fatal battles. (The English word arena derives from the Latin word for sand.) Within the arena floor were 36 trapdoors that allowed all sorts of wild animals to be released directly into action. This section beneath the arena was called the hypogeum. In addition to animals, props and scenery were kept here, along with the gladiators who waited their turn for battle. Today, one can take an underground tour of the Colosseum and get a glimpse into the world of the gladiators. The rest of the interior of the Colosseum consisted of series of radial and circular corridors, which utilized large barrel vaults and concrete that was originally covered with travertine. These corridors connected with stairways, including the infamous vomitoria, which allowed for the expulsion of the crowds of people following the completion of a day’s worth of games. There were originally about 160 of these vomitoria, which like a modern-day arena, allows guests the fastest way out after the event is over.
Sources Ancient History Encyclopedia: https://www.ancient.eu/ Augenti, Andrea. Rome: Art and Archaeology. Florence: Scala, 2007. Carandini, Andrea. The Atlas of Ancient Rome: Biography and Portraits of the City. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017. Coarelli, Filippo. Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide. Translated by James J. Clauss and Daniel P. Harmon. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.
The Roman Forum and Colosseum
Gorski, Gilbert J. and James E. Packer. The Roman Forum: A Reconstruction and Architectural Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Hopkins, Keith and Mary Beard. The Colosseum. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011. Kleiner, Diana E.E. Roman Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. Lugli, Giuseppe. The Roman Forum and the Palatine. Rome: Bardi, 1961. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Nash, Ernest. Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome. New York City: Hacker Art Books, 1981. Ramage, Nancy H. and Andrew Ramage. Roman Art and Architecture. Fifth Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. Richardson, Frank. A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. Strong, Donald. Roman Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976. Ward-Perkins, J.B. Roman Imperial Architecture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981. Watkin, David. The Roman Forum. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009.
CHAPTER TWO THE IMPERIAL FORA AND PALATINE
Introduction This chapter investigates additional ancient ruins in the Forum Romanum and Colosseum areas, specifically the Imperial Fora, the Arch of Constantine, and the Palatine Hill. Directly north of the Forum Romanum is the Imperial Fora, which has five additional forums of Roman emperors. As will be seen, each forum served both practical and propagandistic functions. The Arch of Constantine, which stands between the Colosseum and the Via Sacra, is another example of a triumphal arch erected to celebrate an emperor's victory. Like those in the Forum Romanum, Constantine's arch likewise emphasizes his important victory, not only in its composition and placement in the triumphal processional route, but also with its extensive sculptural relief program. Rising behind the Forum Romanum and Colosseum is the most majestic of the seven hills of Rome: the Palatine Hill. It was atop this ancient mound that the patricians, and later the Roman emperors, built their sprawling palaces. However, this chapter begins with two modern monuments, the Monument of Vittore Emanuele and the Via dei Fori Imperiali, since these two are impossible to miss when visiting the area of the Imperial Fora and Palatine. The Monument of Vittore Emanuele, which dates to the late nineteenth century, celebrates the first king of Italy's role in the unification of the country. In the twentieth century, Benito Mussolini constructed the Via dei Fori Imperiali as a grand boulevard that connected the ancient monuments.
Piazza Venezia and the Monument of Vittore Emanuele A visit to the area of the Imperial Fora is incomplete without first a discussion of the ostentatious Monument of Vittore Emanuele (Figure 2.1) and Benito Mussolini's fascist Via dei Fori Imperiali (Figure 2.2),
The Imperial Fora and Palatine
two monuments which have affected and changed the ancient sites surrounding them. Both the wide boulevard that leads from the Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum along with the huge Monument to Vittore Emanuele have been criticized. But love them or hate them, the Via dei Fori Imperiali and the Monument of Vittore Emanuel have become famous landmarks of Rome.
Figure 2.1: Monument of Vittore Emanuele, Rome, 1885. Source: Alvesgaspar, 2015.
Since its creation in 1885, the Monument of Vittore Emanuele has inspired controversy and derision and has received many pejorative sobriquets including “the wedding cake” and “the typewriter,” due mostly to the monument's grandiosity and what some construe as a lack of taste. In addition to its excessiveness, many objected to the construction of the Monument of Vittore Emanuele because in creating it, many ancient and medieval sites and buildings around it were demolished to make way for the hulking white monument. For example, parts of the Capitoline Hill were destroyed and Pope Paul III’s villa and tower were razed to the ground to create enough space to build the monument. The Monument to Vittore Emanuele II was commissioned in 1885 to celebrate and memorialize the first king of unified Italy. Prior to Vittore Emanuele II, the Italian peninsula was not a unified country. Throughout Italy's history, the peninsula was instead made up of various kingdoms, states, and republics. But in 1861, Vittore Emanuele II united Italy and became the country's first king. Emanuele II died in 1878 and seven years
later, this monument was built to commemorate the king's important role in the creation of a modern Italy. Giuseppe Sacconi was the architect and designer of the Monument of Vittore Emanuele, which looms largely over the city of Rome and consciously connects itself with the greatness of the Roman Empire. First, it is important to note that this huge building was not meant to be a building per se. Instead, it was always supposed to function primarily as a victory monument to Vittore Emanuele II and a testament to the great potential of the new unified Italy. Therefore, the monument celebrates the first king of the newly unified Italy but also communicates the power of Italy and the greatness of what it means to be Italian. The sculpture, as will be seen shortly, also emphasizes these messages. Made of pristine white, glowing marble from Brescia, the Monument of Vittore Emanuele stands out from other Roman buildings surrounding it, which have more earthy tones. This choice of material was deliberate and was a way to make the monument different from the other buildings around it. In addition to its ostentatious material, the monument is also excessively large and measures 135 meters wide and 70 meters tall; it is the size of an almost 25 story building. It looms over everything around it and it is situated right on the Piazza Venezia, one of the busiest piazze in Rome, where three major streets converge including the Via del Corso and Via dei Fori Imperiali. The architecture of the Vittore Emanuele Monument is influenced by classical antiquity and it resembles an enlarged Altar of Zeus from Pergamon, a Hellenistic monument. Like the Altar of Zeus, the Monument of Vittore Emanuele has stairs at the base and upon ascending the stereobate, the visitor is confronted with relief sculptures that wrap around the building. In the case of the Monument of Vittore Emanuele, the relief sculptures on the second level are topped at the center with a bronze equestrian statue of the king of Italy. Behind the relief sculpture is a Corinthian colonnade supporting a sculpted entablature. At either end are wings containing a tetrastyle Corinthian temple façade. Both wings are topped with bronze sculptures of quadrigae, or four-horsed chariots. (Today, this second level houses the Museum of Italian Reunification.) This Neoclassical architecture of the late nineteenth century references ancient Greece and Rome, and thus Vittore Emanuele connects himself and Italy to the golden age of antiquity. Furthermore, his new unified Italy is a continuation of the greatness of the Roman Empire; the king will return Italy to the glories that it celebrated when it was part of the Roman Empire. But Vittore Emanuele did not want to merely continue the Roman Empire, he wanted the new unified Italy to surpass it. Because of this, the
The Imperial Fora and Palatine
Monument dwarfs all the ancient monuments that it surrounds, including the Imperial Fora, the Capitoline Hill, and the Forum Romanum. This is symbolic, foretelling (what they hoped) would be the ensuing power and might of the new, unified Italy, which was set to surpass what the Roman Empire had achieved. Furthermore, by connecting to the past, Sacconi hoped to inspire Italians to take pride in their history and cultural heritage. Italy, after all, was a new country and needed to establish a firm national identity. The sculptural decoration of the Vittore Emanuele Monument celebrates not only the king, but also unified Italy and what this country should be in the late nineteenth century. Like the architecture, the sculpture has references to the Roman Empire. For example, on the second level’s massive relief sculpture, the goddess Roma looms large. She is a symbol of the city of Rome and she wears gold drapery. On either side, she is flanked by marble relief sculptures depicting a crush of workers. These are the working-class Italians, who are dressed in ancient garb. They all look toward Roma as if she were a maternal figure who will provide for them – as long as they respect and follow her. This sculpture, like the monument itself, was meant to instill cultural pride within Italians. Unity is also celebrated within the monument. The sculpted frieze above the Corinthian colonnade contains sixteen figures. These are the sixteen different nations that make up the unified Italy and that were united during the Risorgimento.
Benito Mussolini and the Via dei Fori Imperiali In the twentieth century, Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator of Italy, also tried to connect Rome’s glorious past with himself. One thing that he did was to build a huge boulevard that connected the Piazza Venezia and the Monument of Vittore Emanuele with the Colosseum. This is today's Via dei Fori Imperiali (Figure 2.2) and it runs directly through the Forum Romanum and the Imperial Fora. Opened in 1933, Mussolini was in a hurry to get this stately boulevard completed and as a result, he not only hastily had the Imperial fora excavated, but he also had numerous sixteenth century buildings that were in his way torn down. Because of the Via dei Fori Imperiali, only about one fifth of the Imperial Fora is visible today.
Figure 2.2. Fascist Military Parade on the Via dei Fori Imperiali in the 1930s. Source: Public Domain.
This stately boulevard has practical reasons, connecting famous monuments, but it also served a markedly Fascist propagandistic function, as will be seen. The street has four lanes and is always clogged with traffic, which means that the air is thick with pollution and monuments like the Colosseum are always in need of cleaning to remove the dirty, grimy black soot. The Via dei Fori Imperiali cuts the fora apart. The Forum Romanum and Forum of Caesar are on the southwest side while the Fora of Trajan, Augustus are on the northeast. The Fora of Nerva and Vespasian have been partially covered by the road. Despite the fact that many of the fora were hastily excavated and others partially destroyed, the Via dei Fori Imperiali is the best place to see these ancient monuments. The Via dei Fori Imperiali served another purpose: it connected Benito Mussolini’s fascist government, which was based in the Palazzo Venezia
The Imperial Fora and Palatine
across the street from the Vittore Emanuele Monument, with the monuments of ancient Rome. Symbolically, this linked Mussolini with the Roman Empire, a conscious decision that is further reflected elsewhere in the decoration of the street. As one walks from the Vittore Emanuele Monument, past the Imperial Fora, and toward the Colosseum, there are artworks commissioned by Mussolini that serve to further connect the fascist government with the glories of ancient Rome. For example, there are huge bronze equestrian statues of the Roman emperors that line the boulevard. Also, near the Colosseo metro station, there are four maps on the walls outside that show different stages of the Roman Empire, depicting the expanse of territory that was encompassed at its height.
The Imperial Fora To the north of the Forum Romanum there are five additional fora, those of Caesar, Augustus, Trajan, Nerva, and Vespasian; these are collectively known as the Imperial Fora (Figure 2.3). Covering a large area, the Imperial Fora extend to the Quirinal Hill. These additional five forums served the same purpose as the Forum Romanum, as they were to be the commercial, judicial, and religious center with its basilicas, marketplaces, and temples. By the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire, the population of the city continued to grow and Rome had outgrown the Forum Romanum. There was nowhere left to build in the Forum Romanum and thus a new space had to be designated for future buildings and the logical spot was to the north, as this was really the only direction to expand. Even so, many buildings north of the Forum Romanum had to be destroyed to make way for those of the Imperial Fora. Julius Caesar was the first to build his own forum; future emperors would follow in his footsteps. After the Roman Empire collapsed in the fifth century CE and during the Middle Ages, the Imperial Fora was depleted of much of its building materials. This was common in antiquity and the Middle Ages. Materials like stone, columns, and sculpture were removed from these pagan Roman buildings and used to help build new Christian ones. With Christianity flourishing during the Middle Ages, there were many churches to construct and hence many Roman monuments were pillaged. But there was also symbolism to appropriating building materials from a pagan structure and adding it to a Christian one – it communicated the victory of Christianity over paganism. Unfortunately for the modern viewer, this makes it difficult for the modern
viewer to make out much of the Imperial Fora's original grandeur, as it is in a state of excessive decay.
Figure 2.3: The Imperial Fora, Rome. Source: Samanthamalgieri, 2015.
The forum closest to the Monument of Vittore Emanuele is the Forum of Trajan (Figure 2.4). This is the best preserved of the five, though it is still beneficial to view reconstructions of the buildings of the Forum of Trajan to get a true sense of its impressive nature. Trajan was ruler during the height of the Roman Empire in the beginning of the second century CE, and during his reign, the empire reached its greatest extent, stretching from Spain to the Levant and northern Africa to England. Amassing such a huge empire was only possible through conquest, and Trajan was known for creating a ruthless, military machine that systematically annihilated its enemies. Trajan’s greatest foes were the Dacians (modern-day Romania); the emperor was a military general and served on multiple campaigns in Dacia. Eventually, Trajan and his army defeated the Dacians and the territory was added to the Roman Empire. Like any conquest, Trajan sacked and looted his enemy, taking anything valuable back to Rome with him as part of his war booty. Honored with a triumphal procession, Trajan’s loot was paraded through the streets to show off his victory and the riches he reaped from the Dacians. Following the triumphal procession, Trajan used this loot to finance the building of his Forum of Trajan. As will be seen, the complex was meant to advertise the victory over the Dacians and thus, like most of Roman art, had a propagandistic purpose.
The Imperial Fora and Palatine
Figure 2.4: The Forum of Trajan, Rome. Source: Markus Bernet, 2004.
Before delving into the architecture, one must note that in the case of the Forum of Trajan, the name of the architect is known: Apollodorus of Damascus. This is unusual because the names of artists and architects are rarely mentioned in ancient writings. Therefore, Apollodorus must have been highly regarded as he secured the commission to create not only the Forum of Trajan complex, but also the Column and the Markets of Trajan. Trajan had a previous relationship with Apollodorus of Damascus, as the architect was the leading military engineer while the emperor was in Dacia for his military campaigns. The Forum of Trajan is comprised of multiple buildings including a forum, a basilica, a temple, and two libraries. The immense Forum of Trajan, which one would enter through a triple triumphal arch, was a huge open square that measured 300 by 185 meters. On the north and south sections are exedrae, or semicircular protrusions. Within the center of the large forum was an over life-size bronze equestrian statue. This honorific sculpture of Trajan no longer exists, as is the case with many bronze sculptures of the classical world. Bronze, unlike marble, can be melted down and repurposed. Consequently, when times get tough or when a new religion comes to dominate, like Christianity, which wanted to get rid of any reminders of a pagan past, the bronze sculptures could easily be melted down and then used for something else. Lining the Forum of Trajan was a portico, above which were additional sculptures. These were depictions of the conquered Dacians.
Unfortunately, like the bronze statue, those of the Dacians also no longer exist. Nevertheless, from a reconstruction of the Forum of Trajan, one can get a sense of the grandeur of the space and the fact that Trajan was advertising his greatest military victory for all to see. At the far end of the Forum of Trajan is the Basilica Ulpia, named after Trajan, whose family name was Ulpius. The Basilica Ulpia has the typical features of a Roman basilica. First, it is a large building that has a long central nave and two side aisles flanking both the top and bottom of the nave. These side aisles are created by columns. On both the short ends are apses, or semicircular protrusions. The Basilica Ulpia also had a second floor and had a flat, coffered ceiling. Behind the Basilica Ulpia are the Latin and Greek libraries, in between which is the famous Column of Trajan (Figure 2.5). While most of the complex of the Forum of Trajan lays in ruins, the Column of Trajan still stands in all its glory, a visual testament to the military power and strength of the emperor. This column stands about 40 meters high and it was placed on a square base; both are covered with relief sculpture. The base is decorated with Dacian arms and armor, alluding to Trajan’s military successes. Within the base are urns containing the cremated remains of Trajan and his wife, Plotina. Thus, the Column of Trajan, besides celebrating Trajan’s conquest of Dacia, also serves as a funerary monument. The Column of Trajan is filled with relief sculpture that spirals its way all the way to the top. There is about 190 meters in total of this and it contains over 150 episodes with over 2500 figures, showing Trajan’s military campaigns in Dacia. The Column is not an example of continuous narrative because landscape and architectural details serve to separate these many scenes. Trajan is depicted frequently throughout the column and he is easy to identify with his short, cropped hair and air of authority. Originally, the relief sculptures on the Column of Trajan were painted with bright colors, allowing better visibility from the ground. It is also possible that one could have viewed the sculptures from the second floor of either of the libraries or the Basilica Ulpia. Today, on the top of the column rests a bronze sculpture of St. Peter, one of Christ’s disciples and the first pope of Rome. But this was a later, sixteenth century addition. Originally, the Column of Trajan was capped with a heroically nude sculpture of Trajan, emphasizing the emperor’s importance and eventual divinity.
The Imperial Fora and Palatine
Figure 2.5: Column of Trajan, Rome. Source: Darfsh, 2016.
As for the scenes in the Column of Trajan, only about a quarter of the 150 scenes on the Column of Trajan are battle scenes between the Romans and Dacians. The remaining episodes depict what occurs before or after a battle. For example, when the Romans arrived in Dacia, and before they battled the enemy, they first had to make camp. In addition, the Roman army had to perform sacrifices to the gods to appease them and assure that the deities would be on their side in the upcoming war. After the battles, additional sacrifices had to be made to thank the gods for their help. Trajan also had to decide what to do with the conquered enemy, and so there are many scenes on the Column of Trajan in which the emperor is presented with the enemy and he must decide whether to kill him, enslave him, or parade him through the streets of Rome when he returns to Rome for his
triumphal procession. Finally, there are also scenes of building new Roman cities in Dacia after the country was conquered and added as a province of the Roman Empire. When the enemy is depicted, he is admirable and one to be respected. For example, Decebalus, the leader of the Dacians, is shown committing suicide; he would rather die than be captured and then humiliated by the Romans. This was something that the Romans respected and the fact that they are an admirable foe meant that Rome was even more admirable for being able to defeat them. In total, the Column of Trajan, like the entire Forum of Trajan complex, is utilized as propaganda to advertise the emperor’s greatest military campaign. The relief sculptures are also important as they give us insight into the efficiency of the Trajanic war machine, which systematically conquered its enemies and created new mini-Romes throughout the provinces of the Empire. Behind the Greek and Latin libraries and Column of Trajan, is the Temple of Deified Trajan. This temple was built by Trajan's successor, Hadrian, after Trajan's death and subsequent deification. Like other Roman temples, this one stood on a high podium and contained a single flight of stairs that led up to a deep porch. In 800 CE, there was an earthquake that caused considerable damage to the temple and many of the materials were subsequently used to build other structures. North of the Forum of Trajan are the Markets of Trajan, also designed by Apollodorus of Damascus. The Markets of Trajan are much better preserved than the forum, probably because the city grew up behind it on the Quirinal Hill. During antiquity, a wall separated the Forum of Trajan from the markets, which contained a variety of shops and offices. The shops were built on a concave curve on the shape of the Quirinal Hill behind it. The markets were multi-storied and inside were various tavernae, or shops. Windows punctuated the walls to allow light inside, illuminating one's shopping trip or business meeting. The entire structure was built of concrete, revetted with bricks and travertine. To the east of the Forum of Trajan is the Forum of Caesar, the earliest of the five imperial fora. The ancient writer, Dio Cassius, declared the Forum of Julius Caesar to be more beautiful than even the Forum Romanum. Unfortunately, during the construction of the Via dei Fori Imperiali, the Forum of Caesar was separated from the rest of the Imperial Fora and was built over. Rectangular, the Forum of Caesar is flanked on either of the long sides by a portico. At the west end is the Temple of Venus Genetrix. Julius Caesar was said to have descended from Venus, the goddess of love, and thus by dedicating a temple to her he also proclaimed his own divinity. In
The Imperial Fora and Palatine
antiquity, the Temple of Venus Genetrix had a high podium with Corinthian columns. Inside there was a cult statue of the goddess, along with sculptures of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra. Outside the temple there was an equestrian portrait of the politician. None of these sculptures survive. Julius Caesar’s great grandnephew and adopted son, Augustus, added his own forum north of his uncle’s. Today, to get there from the Forum of Caesar, you must cross the busy Via dei Fori Imperiali. Because Augustus wanted to play up his connection to his great uncle in his art and architecture, the Forum of Augustus deliberately mimics the Forum of Caesar. First, like Caesar’s, Augustus’ forum is symmetrical and longitudinal with a colonnaded portico on either of the long sides. At the end of the Forum of Augustus there is a temple, just like was found at the Forum of Caesar, though in this case, Augustus dedicated the building to Mars Ultor, or Mars the Avenger. But Augustus puts his own spin on things, adding exedrae on both the north and south sides; the use of exedrae was later adopted by Trajan, Vespasian, and Nerva in the design of their fora. In the Forum of Augustus, these exedrae were used to display a series of busts of the great men of the past, both historical and legendary, like Romulus and Remus. By including these influential men, Augustus stated that he was one in a long line of great men. Augustus’ forum also had a large bronze equestrian statue of the emperor. Like Trajan and Caesar’s equestrian portraits, Augustus’ statue no longer exists though it is mentioned by ancient writers. There are, however, remains of the sculptures of caryatids that decorated the second story of the porticoes. The first floor of the portico consisted of Corinthian columns while the second floor held a series of caryatids flanking shields that were decorated with the heads of gods and goddesses. The use of military shields is a clear reference to victory, something that Augustus always wanted to advertise in his art and architecture. The caryatids are exact copies, though in smaller scale, of those on the Erechtheion of the Acropolis in Athens. This was a deliberate choice. Augustus wanted to connect himself to the Golden Age of Athens and using the caryatids allowed him to do that. Finally, at the back of the forum is the Temple of Mars Ultor. The high podium, single flight of stairs, and some of the large Corinthian columns remain. This temple had a significant meaning for Augustus. In 42 BCE, Augustus (at that time he was still Octavian), killed the last of Julius Caesar’s assassins, Cassius and Brutus, at the Battle of Philippi. Prior to going into battle, Augustus declared that if he were successful, he would build and dedicate a temple to Mars Ultor. Although Augustus defeated his
enemies in 42 BCE, it took forty years for him to make good on this promise. But in 2 BCE, the emperor finished the Temple of Mars Ultor. The Temple of Mars Ultor was an octostyle Corinthian temple that also had eight columns on the sides. The pediment was decorated with sculpture; the Ara Pietatis relief contains a sculptural representation of what this temple looked like. In the pediment, there were sculptures of Mars, Venus, and Fortune. In the corners were Romulus and the personification of the Palatine on one side, and Roma and the personification of the Tiber River on the other. Within the cella of the temple there was \ also sculptural group of Mars, Venus, and the deified Julius Caesar, which also no longer exists but is best represented by the Algiers relief. There is important symbolism with the Temple of Mars Ultor. First, just as Mars is an avenger, so too is Augustus over the assassins of Julius Caesar. In addition, Augustus tries to connect himself to the Forum of Caesar by mimicking the layout of the forum with a temple at the end. Caesar’s temple is dedicated to Venus but Augustus dedicates it to Mars, Venus’ lover, another fitting connection. To the east of the Forum of Augustus are two final fora: the Forums of Nerva and Vespasian. The Forum of Nerva is also referred to as the Forum Transitorium, since it serves as a transition point from the Forum of Augustus to the Forum of Vespasian. Domitian, one of the Flavian emperors, was responsible for beginning construction of the Forum of Nerva in 97 CE. At the end of the narrow forum is the Temple of Minerva. The last of the Imperial Fora is the Forum of Vespasian, which contains the famous Templum Pacis, or Temple of Peace. After the triumphal procession of the Flavians, celebrating their victory in the Jewish War, the loot from that conquest was then put on display in the forum and temple.
Arch of Constantine Constantine is regarded as the first Christian emperor. In 314, the Edict of Milan proclaimed religious tolerance and thus Christianity was no longer illegal. However, Constantine was not baptized as a Christian until he was on his deathbed. Prior to that, the emperor hedged all his bets, wanting to keep all Roman citizens feeling included. In monuments, he celebrated both the pagan gods alongside the Christian one. He did not want anyone to think he favored any one particular religion or deity. As will be seen in Chapter Six, Constantine was instrumental in the construction of new Christian churches throughout Rome, but he also continued to build
The Imperial Fora and Palatine
monuments that were not religious, like the Arch of Constantine (Figure 2.6).
Figure 2.6: Arch of Constantine, Rome. Source: Alexander Z, 2005.
After the fall of Diocletian’s tetrarchy at the end of the third century CE, people again were vying for sole control of the Roman Empire, including Constantine. One by one, Constantine defeated his opponents to get one step closer to taking up his role as emperor. One conquest that helped Constantine get closer to becoming sole emperor was the Battle of the Milvian Bridge of 312 CE. At this battle, Constantine went head to head against Maxentius, who was the leader of a bigger and more powerful army. Constantine was the underdog and expected to lose. According to the story recorded by the ancient writer Eusebius, on the night before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, the Christian god sent a vision to Constantine with the chi rho device (the first two letters of Christ in ancient Greek). The angel presenting this device told Constantine, “In this sign, conquer.” The next day, Constantine had the chi rho device attached to standards as he went out into battle and he managed to defeat the mighty Maxentius. As a result, Constantine would subtly refer to the Christian god’s help in monuments like the Arch of Constantine.
First, it is important to mention that the Arch of Constantine, like those of Titus and Septimius Severus in the Forum Romanum, is a triumphal arch. Consequently, the Arch of Constantine was placed on the triumphal processional route and was a celebration of a particular victory of Constantine: the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. As the parade wound its way through the streets of Rome and passed the Colosseum, the participants would walk through one of the three bays of the Arch of Constantine, take a sharp left, and head down the Via Sacra and through the Forum Romanum. The arch was completed just three short years after this battle, in 315 CE. The Arch of Constantine is made of marble and consists of three bays: the largest archway is in the center and two smaller bays flank it. Flanking all bays are Corinthian columns standing on pedestals. Overall, it is the largest of these triumphal arches and measures 21 meters high and 25.6 meters wide. The spandrels, pedestals, or areas below the entablature are all carved with relief sculptures. Above the columns is an entablature with a large attic that, like the other triumphal arches discussed in Chapter One, contains an inscription in Latin that translates as: To the emperor Flavius Constantine the Great Pious and fortunate, the Senate and People of Rome Because by divine inspiration and his own greatness of spirit With his army On both the tyrant and all his Faction at once in rightful Battle he avenged the State Dedicated this arch as a mark of triumph.1
To summarize, the Arch of Constantine was erected to honor the triumph of Constantine the Great over the tyrant Maxentius. This victory was possible because of “divine inspiration.” The Christian god is not specifically named. Instead, Constantine vaguely references the Christian god. This was deliberate because Constantine wanted to keep all Roman citizens happy and thus did not alienate either the pagans or Christians by choosing a specific religion. Not all the sculptures on the arch date to the time of Constantine. Some of the sculptures were taken from earlier monuments, reworked, and then placed on the Arch of Constantine. For example, sculptures were taken 1
Translation from Amanda Claridge, Rome, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
The Imperial Fora and Palatine
from monuments of Hadrian, Trajan, and Marcus Aurelius. The sculptures were carefully chosen, depending on what scenes they showed, and often the heads of the earlier emperors were removed and Constantine’s portrait was put in their place. One might think that this appropriation was done because the sculptors were lazy and did not want to take the time to create their own original pieces. Or maybe the sculptors were no longer as skilled as those from the height of the Roman Empire, and thus they had to take the best works from previous monuments. Yes, Constantine and his designers were surely saving time, money, and energy, but this was not the main reason why sculptures from previous monuments were affixed to the Arch of Constantine. Instead, propaganda was the purpose of using the spolia from other monuments. Constantine took sculptures down from monuments of the great emperors of the second century CE. When Hadrian, Trajan, and Marcus Aurelius ruled, the Roman Empire was at its height. Constantine was deliberately trying to connect himself to those earlier rulers by using their sculptures within his own arch. There are also sculptures that were new and created during the time of Constantine. These sculptures exhibit a remarkably different style. For most of the Roman Empire, art is highly naturalistic. But during the middle of the second century CE, a new, less naturalistic style appears and by the age of Constantine, the abstract style starts to dominate art. In these works, proportions of the figures are often off; they might have heads too big for their bodies or hands that are excessively large. Figures also become short and stocky and they all look the same. There is less individuality and less variation in pose, posture, and gesture. Many times, the figures not only look alike in their facial features but they also have the exact same pose. The drapery of figures no longer falls like it would in real life, but instead it is very regular and patterned. Furthermore, space is no longer represented accurately. Figures are stacked one upon another. There often is no firm ground line, and sometimes various perspectives are shown in one compositional zone. It is natural to ask why there is this change in style, from naturalistic to abstract. Does this reflect the skill and talent of an artist? Have the artists become less adept at creating naturalistic artworks? This was assuredly not the case. This abstract style will dominate the Middle Ages from the fourth through the fourteenth centuries. During this time, naturalism was not something artists were necessarily striving for. Instead, often the artist wants to tell a story clearly and legibly and sometimes this means using an unnaturalistic style. In addition to the earlier sculpture appropriated from the High Empire, Constantine also included his own, new sculptures. These reliefs adhere to
this more abstract style yet still follow the same imperial function of art being used for propaganda. In one example, the distribution of the largess, Constantine is depicted distributing food to the poor. In the long, narrow relief sculpture, Constantine is depicted enthroned in the center. On either side are his many cohorts. While Constantine’s head is missing, the most important figure is clearly identified because, as stated, he is enthroned in the center. But also, almost everyone in this scene is turning their heads to look at the emperor, creating an implied line directly to him. Below Constantine and his cohort are the poor people of ancient Rome, looking up at their emperor and reaching a hand out to grab the bread and food being distributed. Scenes of the distribution of the largess are depicted frequently in Roman relief sculpture. It is akin to a public relations opportunity, showing the emperor as one who is concerned with the welfare of all citizens, including the poor. Instead of using Twitter or Instagram to post a photo of such a scene, in antiquity sculpture was used to promote these ideas The style of the largess scene is an example of the less naturalistic that was beginning to dominate the Roman Empire. The figures have hands that are much too large and their bodies are short and squat. The folds in the drapery are highly regularized. The figures surrounding Constantine also have identical facial features, short stubbly beard, hairstyle, and their arms are outstretched in a similar manner. Figures are bunched together and there is no desire to show space. The fact that this less naturalistic style is combined with the more naturalistic style of the High Empire reliefs is not unusual. The Romans loved eclecticism, often combining different styles or subjects within one artwork or monument.
The Palatine Hill Behind the Forum Romanum is the Palatine Hill (Figure 2.7), which rises 40 meters above it and is about 25 acres in area. While this is not the largest of the seven hills of ancient Rome, it is the most isolated and has been used continuously throughout the history of Rome. Faustulus, the shepherd who rescued Romulus and Remus, had a hut atop the Palatine Hill; the alleged remains can be seen today. When Romulus became the first king of Rome, the Palatine Hill was where the city of Rome began. During the Republican period, the Palatine Hill was where the wealthy patricians built their stately homes; Cicero, the great orator, lived on the northern section. Then in the Roman Empire, many of these palaces were reworked by the emperors. For example, Augustus renovated the earlier
The Imperial Fora and Palatine
House of Hortensius to suit his own needs and appropriated other buildings as his own. Augustus’ successor, Tiberius, began the trend of building completely new palaces, and subsequent rulers would do the same. This meant that some of the earlier buildings had to be razed to make way for the newer palaces. The Roman emperors through Septimius Severus in the third century CE constructed palaces atop the Palatine. By Severus' time, the prestigious hill had no more room for the extensive palaces of the emperors. In fact, with all these palaces, it is no wonder that the hill is called the Palatine, which translates from the Latin as “palace.” Because the Palatine Hill has structures from every period of ancient Rome, with some palaces rebuilt or remodeled, it is an intricate layout of one building over another. Today, when one arrives at the top of the Palatine, it is a level surface, though this was the result of extensive working by the emperors who wanted to place their palaces on the top. There are also many temples, including the Temple of Cybele, which according to the inscription dates to 191 BCE. This temple is to the right of the Hut of Faustulus and is dedicated to the fertility goddess, Cybele (Magna Mater to the Romans). The temple was hexastyle prostyle and it was unusual in that it faced westward instead of east. It is Corinthian in order, despite its early date, and it was rebuilt during the Augustan period. Constructed of concrete and rubble, it was covered with travertine. The House of Livia dates to the 30s BCE. Augustus, Livia’s husband, bought it from Cortensius to produce a modest structure for the empress. Modified later in antiquity, it has three levels and is famous for its frescoes in the dining area. These were discovered in the late nineteenth century by Pietro Rosa. The House of Tiberius shows a new trend toward larger palaces. Most of the upper area of the palace was devoted to a garden while ninety percent of the interior space was underground. Most of the reconstruction that you see today was done by Nero, the last of the Julio-Claudian emperors.
Figure 2.7: Plan of the Palatine. Source: Public Domain.
Sources Ancient History Encyclopedia: https://www.ancient.eu/ Augenti, Andrea. Rome: Art and Archaeology. Florence: Scala, 2007. Carandini, Andrea. The Atlas of Ancient Rome: Biography and Portraits of the City. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017. Coarelli, Filippo. Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide. Translated by James J. Clauss and Daniel P. Harmon. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. Coarelli, Filippo et al. The Column of Trajan. Rome: Colombo, 2000. Kallis, Aristotle. The Third Rome, 1922-43: The Making of the Fascist Capital. United Kingdom, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Kleiner, Diana E.E. Roman Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.
The Imperial Fora and Palatine
Lugli, Giuseppe. The Roman Forum and the Palatine. Rome: Bardi, 1961. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Nash, Ernest. Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome. New York City: Hacker Art Books, 1981. Painter, Borden W. Mussolini’s Rome: Rebuilding the Eternal City. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005. Ramage, Nancy H. and Andrew Ramage. Roman Art and Architecture. Fifth Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. Richardson, Frank. A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. Strong, Donald. Roman Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976. Ward-Perkins, J.B. Roman Imperial Architecture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981.
CHAPTER THREE THE CAPITOLINE HILL AND THEATER OF MARCELLUS
Introduction This chapter continues exploring the monuments of ancient Rome, particularly the Capitoline Hill and the remains of the Theater of Marcellus. One of the original seven hills of ancient Rome, the Capitoline is now home to three museums that house many of the sculptural masterpieces that once decorated the buildings of ancient Rome. Today, though, the Capitoline Hill is very different from its ancient appearance because in the Renaissance period the famed artist, Michelangelo, redesigned the space. Therefore, only remnants of the original, ancient Capitoline Hill are present, including fragments of the wall from the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. The Theater of Marcellus is a short distance from the Capitoline Hill. Used for the performance of plays, the Theater of Marcellus was the first permanent theater in Rome and its design would influence the later Colosseum.
Piazza del Campidoglio The Capitoline Hill is the oldest of the seven hills of ancient Rome. In the sixteenth century, Pope Paul III, who was embarrassed by the dilapidated condition of the Capitoline Hill, commissioned Michelangelo to design the grand staircase leading up to the hill along with a large, trapezoidal piazza on top. In addition, Michelangelo was tasked with redesigning the façades of the existing civic buildings on top of the Capitoline Hill. Michelangelo’s designs were completed and slightly modified later in the seventeenth century by Giacomo della Porta. Today, the major access point to the Capitoline Hill is the staircase designed by Michelangelo, known as the Cordonata (Figure 3.1). Technically, though, this is a stepped ramp rather than a staircase as it is
The Capitoline Hill and Theater of Marcellus
composed of wide, low steps. At the bottom of the Cordonata, on both sides, are balustrades, each of which is decorated with a sculpture of an Egyptian lion made of black basalt. These lions serve as fountains, spewing water from their mouths into a bucket below. The ancient Egyptian sculptures were taken from Temple of Isis during the Ptolemaic period. At the top of the Cordonata, there are two large sculptures of the twins, Castor and Pollux; these also date back to antiquity and were originally from the Temple of Castor and Pollux in the Forum Romanum.
Figure 3.1: View of the Cordonata and the Capitoline Hill. Source: Public Domain.
To the left of the Cordonata, a much steeper staircase is visible as it ascends to a basilica. This is Santa Maria in Aracoeli, which was completed in the twelfth century. The façade of the basilica is plain, though originally it was decorated with frescoes and mosaics. Upon completing an ascent along the Cordonata and passing through the large sculptures of Castor and Pollux, the visitor reaches Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio (Figure 3.2). When accepting the commission, Michelangelo was charged with creating a space of grandeur, something that was befitting the most important hill of ancient Rome.
Michelangelo had a difficult space to contend with, but eventually decided on a trapezoidal plan, with the longest side closest to the Cordonata. By using the trapezoid, Michelangelo’s piazza appears to be larger than it was. The two short sides move outward from the back of the piazza, stretching to the left and right of the stairs. On each of these three sides, there are stately palazzi (the fourth aligns with the top of the Cordonato), aligned along the edges of the trapezoid. At the very back is the Palazzo Senatorio, on the left is the Palazzo del Museo Capitolino, and on the right is the Palazzo dei Conservatori. Today, all three palazzi are museums, though during the time of Michelangelo, these buildings were used for governmental functions. These three palazzi were already there when Michelangelo designed the piazza, but he added new facades to them.
Figure 3.2: Étienne Dupérac, Engraving of the Capitoline Hill, 1568. Source: Public Domain.
In the back center is the Palazzo Senatoria, which was originally where the senate met. It is the oldest of the buildings in the Piazza del Campidoglio. Originally built in the eleventh century, Michelangelo slightly redesigned the façade in the sixteenth century. Specifically, the artist added the large double staircase in the front of the building. On either side of the front of the staircase are two ancient statues of river gods: the Nile on the left and the Tiber on the right. These statues were discovered in the Baths of Constantine and date to the first century CE. In
The Capitoline Hill and Theater of Marcellus
the center is a statue of the Roman goddess Minerva, who was the protector of the city. On the right of the Piazza del Campidoglio is the Palazzo dei Conservatori, which is where the ancient Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus originally stood. The current building dates to the sixteenth century and is now part of the Capitoline Museums and contains many important ancient Roman sculptures. Completing the trapezoid, on the left is the Palazzo Nuovo, which was designed by Michelangelo and was meant to be an echo of the Palazzo dei Conservatori across the way; it also houses an impressive collection of Roman sculpture. The entire trapezoidal pavement of the Piazza del Campidoglio is covered with a design of ovals and stars. In the center of the pavement is a reproduction of the bronze equestrian statue of the emperor Marcus Aurelius. The original has been in the Capitoline Museum since its restoration in 1997. The Capitoline Hill was in use long before the Renaissance period. The oldest hill of Rome was utilized as a political and ceremonial center during the Bronze Age and it continued to be used through the Roman Republic and Empire. During the Roman Republic, the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus was built atop the southern section of the Capitoline. This was the most important temple in the Roman world and was also the largest one in Rome at the time. Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Zeus, was the head of the Roman pantheon. The god was the patron deity of the city of Rome and was her protector. Destroyed by a first century BCE fire, the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus was rebuilt by the Flavians in the late first century CE. The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus was the ultimate destination of all Roman triumphal processions. In addition, it was here that the investiture of the consuls occurred. One can visit what remains of the foundation and podium of the temple in the Palazzo Caffarelli, which is part of the Capitoline Museums. Originally a squarish rectangle, the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus measured about 50 by 60 meters (though these measurements are debatable). Like typical Roman temples, the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus adopted Etruscan features including a high podium, a single staircase, and a deep porch. The temple was hexastyle and along the side were an additional six freestanding columns. The pronaos, or porch, consisted of three rows of six columns each. Finally, in the back were three narrow cellas, each of which was reserved for the most important Roman gods: Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. Each cella housed a cult statue of each of these three deities. Much of the
original sculptural decoration was made of terracotta, another Etruscan influence, along with its placement along the gable and roofline of the temple. Another ancient remnant on the Capitoline hill is the Tarpeian Rock. This is at the steep southern summit of the Capitoline Hill, behind the Palazzo dei Conservatori. One can catch a glimpse of the Tarpeian Rock from the gardens of the Belvedere di Monte Tarpeo. According to history, the precipice, about 25 meters high, is the place from which criminals were thrown to their death.
Capitoline Museums - Palazzo dei Conservatori The courtyard of the Palazzo de Conservatori contains the fragments of the colossal portrait of Constantine (Figure 3.3). Originally this sculpture decorated the west apse of the Basilica Constantine in the Forum Romanum. This massive sculpture was a little over nine meters tall and depicted the emperor seated on a throne. Today, only fragments of the head, arms, hands, and legs remain of the statue. During excavations of the basilica in 1951, a piece of the left breast was discovered, which was such an important find because the chest was bare and therefore Constantine was depicted in heroic semi-nudity (the lower portion was covered while the chest was bare). This iconographic leitmotif communicated divinity, specifically the Roman god Jupiter. Therefore, Constantine is depicted in the guise of Jupiter and he probably held a scepter, another symbol of Jupiter. Constantine's face is idealized with smooth, unlined skin and no blemishes. This idealized style was a deliberate way for Constantine to connect himself back to the emperor Augustus, who popularized this idealized (though not truthful) type of portrait. In short, Constantine wants everyone to think he looks great and he also wants to link himself to the great emperor and legitimize his right to rule. Unlike portraits of Augustus, though, Constantine’s face is not individualized but generalized. His huge eyes with drilled pupils and irises, look up, perhaps to the heavens. He has a big nose and wreath of cap-like hair on his head. He has no facial hair, a departure from the typical bearded emperor, which was popularized by Hadrian in the second century CE. In the rest of the fragments, one can begin to piece together the rest of the sculpture. There is a right hand that is clenched and has the index finger pointing upwards, just like his eyes. There are also fragments of the patella and the right upper arm with the elbow.
The Capitoline Hill and Theater of Marcellus
Figure 3.3: Colossal Portrait of Constantine. Source: Jean-Christophe Benoist, 2007.
Leaving the courtyard and ascending the main staircase, there are examples of Roman relief sculpture from the height of the Empire, including Hadrian’s Arco di Portogallo reliefs (Figure 3.4). In addition to sponsoring architectural projects and helping to design them, Hadrian commissioned sculpture throughout the city of Rome and the entire empire. In fact, he has more surviving portraits of himself than any other emperor, except for Augustus. This is probably because he was emperor for a long time: twenty-one years. Another factor that contributed to the popularity of his sculptures was that he loved to travel and in preparation for his arrival, these Roman provinces would fill their cities with sculptures of the emperor.
Figure 3.4: Reconstruction of the Arco di Portogallo. Source: Public Domain.
In his sculpture, Hadrian returns to the idealized style of Augustus. Like Constantine, Hadrian wants to connect himself back to the emperor who started it all. But Hadrian is different in that he is the first emperor to be depicted with a full beard. Prior to this, all emperors from Augustus through the Flavians were shown clean shaven. There are a couple of theories as to why Hadrian did this. First, some ancient historians noted that Hadrian had bad acne scars and growing a beard could mask these blemishes. Another possibility was that this beard was a way his philhellenism could come to the forefront. He loved Greek statesmen, philosophers, and heroes and they all wore beards. Hadrian might have wanted to mimic his heroes by also having a full beard. Hadrian’s beard caused a fashion trend and every Roman emperor until the fourth century (Constantine) would have beards. Finally, it is in the early second century CE that there was another important change in Roman sculpture: the pupils and irises began to be drilled, something that had not been done before, and this practice would continue until the end of the Empire. In earlier portraits of the emperors, the pupils and irises were painted in rather than drilled.
The Capitoline Hill and Theater of Marcellus
Figure 3.5: Apotheosis of Sabina, Arco di Portogallo. Source: Carole Raddato, 2014.
In addition to freestanding portraits, Hadrian commissioned state relief sculpture, including the two sculptures in this staircase, which are from a monument that is referred to as the Arco di Portogallo, or Arch of Portugal. (It was called this because the arch was located near the Portuguese embassy.) The composition of the original monument is unknown, but it was probably built shortly after the death of Hadrian’s wife, Sabina, in 136 CE and its purpose was to honor the empress. The original form of the arch is known from drawings and engravings of it prior to its destruction in 1622, when it was torn down because it was not convenient for Rome’s horse races. The two vertically oriented relief sculptures remain from this monument and the subjects of both, as is fitting, are related to Sabina: one
shows a scene of alimenta and the other an apotheosis of the empress. The first scene is the alimenta, an event that served to provide the poor children of Rome with food, clothing, and other necessities. Trajan started philanthropic alimenta programs, which were then carried on by his successors. In this panel, Hadrian stands in the center on top of a pedestal; most likely the emperor is at the Rostra in the Forum Romanum. He is flanked on either side by a range of figures. Hovering behind him at the left are the Genius Senatus and Genius Populi Romani, both of whom are bearded and wear togas. The other figures are two men and one child. The boy stands at the right and looks up at the emperor, lifting a hand towards him. The presence of a child is significant because they were not commonly depicted in state relief sculpture. While there is no consensus as to who the child is, some scholars claim that the boy stands in for all the poor boys and girls in the Roman Empire who will benefit from the alimenta of Hadrian and Sabina. Others have identified the figure as Lucius Verus, who was a possible successor of Hadrian and thus this would have dynastic symbolism. This panel was important for Sabina because the alimenta was a program that the empress championed. The other panel from the Arco di Portogallo is a scene of the apotheosis of Sabina (Figure 3.5). This is the first known example of an empress' apotheosis. In the upper half of the composition, Sabine sits on the back of a winged female, probably Aeternitas, or eternity. Flying from left to right, the empress’ torso is shown frontally and her head is in profile to the right, looking upwards to the heavens. Her right hand holds a portion of her mantle, which is streaming behind her. Below Aeternitas are flames carved in very low relief and thus this scene appears to be taking place at the very moment of the empress’ cremation. In the lower portion, there are three figures who watch the scene occurring above. On the left is a reclining man, bare from the waist up. This is the personification of Campus Martius, the area in Rome where funerals occurred. At the bottom right is the seated Hadrian. He wears a laurel crown and has one finger pointing upwards, directing our eyes to the apotheosis of his wife. Behind Hadrian, and in lower relief, is a third male figure who, like Hadrian, is also bearded. The identify of this third man is unknown, partially because the figure has been heavily restored. The style of the Arco di Portogallo reliefs is highly naturalistic and classicizing, something that Hadrian, the lover of all things Greek, promoted. The figures are large, stately, and elegant. There is a variation in the level of relief to indicate recession into space. The drapery falls naturalistically and reveals the three-dimensional body beneath.
The Capitoline Hill and Theater of Marcellus
The other relief sculptures in the main staircase of the Palazzo dei Conservatori come from the Arch of Marcus Aurelius, about forty years after the Arco di Portogallo. Marcus Aurelius, part of the Antonine dynasty, continued the traditions set by Hadrian: the emperor was idealized, bearded, with pupils and irises drilled. One difference that sets the Antonine emperors apart from the others is the treatment of the hair. The sculptors used the drill extensively to create deep curls and big volume. The Arch of Marcus Aurelius was built to celebrate the emperor’s victory in a northern campaign and originally would have been in the Forum Romanum. The Church of Santa Martina was built in the forum in the sixth century CE and incorporated the arch into some of the walls. It was not until the sixteenth century that the reliefs were moved to the Palazzo dei Conservatori, where three are on display today. There are now only eleven relief panels left in existence; the other eight were reworked into the Arch of Constantine in the fourth century CE. The three panels in the Palazzo dei Conservatori show Marcus Aurelius sacrificing (Figure 3.6); a scene of conquest and clemency; and a triumph. This arch was constructed to honor Marcus Aurelius’ Germanic campaigns and thus the conquest scene shows him during the war in the north, when he must decide what to do with the captive barbarians. Should he kill them? Should he take them back to Rome and humiliate them by parading them through the streets during the triumphal procession? Should they become slaves? In this scene of conquest and clemency, the emperor is on horseback, his mantles billowing behind him. Soldiers surround him; two soldiers in the background raise a victory trophies. Kneeling at the far right are two Germanic soldiers, their hands outstretched, beseeching the emperor to grant them clemency. After the successful campaign, Marcus Aurelius returned to Rome where he was honored with a triumphal procession. In the triumphal scene of the Arch of Marcus Aurelius, the emperor is at the left driving his quadriga, or four-horsed chariot, which is decorated with sculptures of Roma, Minerva, and Neptune. A small, winged Victory hovers above Marcus Aurelius. Behind the horses and to the right are a lictor and a musician; both are wearing laurel crowns. In the background, there is a temple and a triumphal arch, both in low relief. Originally, there was another figure in the chariot with Marcus Aurelius: his son, Commodus. But Commodus suffered the damnatio memoriae, which meant his images were destroyed; he was a bad emperor and any trace of him had to be wiped out.
Figure 3.6: Scene of Sacrifice, Arch of Marcus Aurelius. Source: José Luiz, 2016.
Lastly is the scene of sacrifice (Figure 3.6): the emperor stands with a large group of people in front of a temple, usually identified as the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill. A tripod altar stands at the center of the scene, with Marcus Aurelius slightly to the left. He stands in contrapposto, his toga pulled over his head, communicating that he is participating in the sacrifice. His right arm pours a libation onto the altar. At the right, the head of a bull peeks through along with a victimarius with an ax; he will perform the sacrificial killing of the animal. On the other side of the altar from the emperor is a musician who plays a flute during the sacrifice. Because the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus is in the background, this scene probably occurs after the triumphal procession, which ended with a sacrifice to Jupiter at this location.
The Capitoline Hill and Theater of Marcellus
One of the jewels of the Palazzo de Conservatori is the bronze Roman sculpture, Lo Spinario (Figure 3.7), which depicts a young boy removing a thorn from the bottom of his foot. The sculpture is Roman, but it owes much to the Hellenistic style, particularly in its complicated pose. The nude boy sits on a mound, with his left leg crossed over his right. He bends over, his head looking directly down, while he holds his left foot in his hands, trying to remove the offending thorn. The sculpture is highly naturalistic, which is another hallmark of the Hellenistic. But this sculpture is Roman and something that Romans were known for was eclecticism, or the combining of different styles. Along with the Hellenistic style, Lo Spinario also has elements of the severe style of Greek sculpture from the Early Classical period (480-450 BCE). The severe style can best be seen in the head of Lo Spinario: the caplike head of hair and serious expression on his face.
Figure 3.7: Lo Spinario. Source: Sixtus, 2006.
An important stop in the Palazzo Conservatori is the She-Wolf (also referred to as the Capitoline She-Wolf), a bronze sculpture that has become a symbol of Rome (Figure 3.8). In this work, the she-wolf suckles the two twins, Romulus and Remus (see the Introduction for the story of Romulus and Remus). The she-wolf has a long, lean body and all four feet are on the ground. Her head turns to the left, looking at the viewer; her mouth is partially open with her teeth bared. Eyes wide open with the eyebrows forming triangles, her ears also point upwards as if she hears something off in the distance. Below, the twins suckle on the she-wolf’s teats. The babies are nude, one seated and one squatting, with both their heads tilted back to get milk from the she-wolf.
Figure 3.8: Capitoline She-Wolf. Source: Public Domain.
There is controversy surrounding the date of this iconic sculpture. It has long been thought to be an Etruscan sculpture of the fifth century CE; the Etruscans dominated the Italian peninsula long before the Romans came along. Rich in metal ore, much of their sculpture is made of bronze. In 2006, the Palazzo dei Conservatori allowed for tests to be performed on the sculpture, which revealed that it may date to the Middle Ages. (The twins were a later Renaissance addition and not a part of the original sculpture.) One of the highlights of the Palazzo dei Conservatori is the portrait of Commodus as Hercules (Figure 3.9) in the Halls of the Horti Lamiani. Commodus ruled from 177-92 CE, first in conjunction with his father, Marcus Aurelius, and then after his father’s death in 180 CE, by himself. But he was a hated emperor, along the lines of Nero and Caligula, and consequently after Commodus was assassinated in 192 CE, many of his portraits were destroyed because of the damnatio memoriae. But luckily, this over-the-top portrait of the emperor still exists and it shows Commodus in the guise of the mythological hero, Hercules.
The Capitoline Hill and Theater of Marcellus
Figure 3.9: Portrait of Commodus as Hercules. Source: Public Domain.
Like other portraits of Antonine emperors, Commodus has deeply drilled, curly, spongy hair and beard. His pupils are also incised. Commodus is idealized and depicted as a strong, virile man in the prime of his life. The portrait consists of the head, torso, and arms. Commodus looks to the viewer's left, a lion skin wrapped around his shoulders and covering his head; this is a reference to one of the twelve labors of Hercules when the hero conquered the Nemean lion. The paws of the lion skin are knotted together at his sternum; his chest is bare. Commodus’ right hand holds the club of Hercules, which rests on his shoulder. In his outstretched left hand, he holds the apples of the Hesperides, another reference to the labors of the hero. Below the sculpture, there are many iconographic elements that emphasize Commodus’ power, including a globe, which is a symbol of world domination. Sculpted into this orb are the zodiacal signs of the bull, Capricorn, and Scorpio; these three signs refer to October, a month during
which Commodus had many successful accomplishments. Two cornucopiae curl upwards from the globe, symbolizing fertility and abundance of Commodus’ reign. This fertility was achieved by conquering of barbarians, who are represented by the kneeling female amazon to the left of the globe. Finally, the pelta, or shield, that rests on top of the globe further emphasizes victory. Originally, this was only part of a larger sculptural program. The portrait of Commodus would have been in the center while the emperor was flanked on either side by a male triton. Most likely, the entire group was displayed in a public setting, where all of Rome would see that Commodus was Hercules. This is particularly fitting because Commodus was known to go out into Rome dressed up as Hercules, as described by ancient writers.
Capitoline Museums - Palazzo Nuova Across from the Palazzo dei Conservatori is another section of the Capitoline Museums: the Palazzo Nuova. One of their most impressive pieces is the original equestrian portrait of Marcus Aurelius (Figure 3.10) from the second century CE. The bronze statue is in the center of a large gallery within the Palazzo Nuova, highlighting its grandeur. In antiquity, this sculpture would have been placed in a public spot like a forum. This sculpture is extremely important because while bronze equestrian statues of the emperors were common during the Roman Empire, not many survived antiquity. This is due to a couple of reasons. First, bronze is an expensive material and it can be reused easily. That means that after the fall of the Roman Empire, when these sculptures did not have as much importance, the works were melted down and the bronze was used for something else. Second, many of the bronze statues were victims of Christian iconoclasm, which is the deliberate destruction of religious or political artworks. Thus, when Christianity became the dominant religion in Rome, many of the old pagan monuments and sculptures were reused or destroyed, including many of the ancient equestrian monuments. But the portrait of Marcus Aurelius was saved from destruction by the Christians because they thought it was a portrait of Constantine, who is regarded as the first Christian emperor.
The Capitoline Hill and Theater of Marcellus
Figure 3.10. Equestrian Portrait of Marcus Aurelius. Source: Rosco~commonswiki, 2006.
In the portrait, Marcus Aurelius is astride the horse and is dressed as a soldier. The sculpture is a little over life-size, with the emperor slightly larger than he should be when compared to the horse. This was deliberate, though, because the emperor could not be dwarfed by the horse – his importance is paramount. The emperor looks straight ahead, with the typical Antonine voluminous hair and beard. His right arm is outstretched, his fingers reaching out. The horse on which he rides is walking, with three legs on the ground; the front right leg is up. Originally, there was a fallen barbarian beneath this right leg. Therefore, in this sculpture, Marcus Aurelius must decide whether to grant the barbarian clemency or subject the foreigner to slavery or death. Marcus Aurelius was known as the philosopher emperor, and is the most thoughtful and contemplative of the
Roman emperors, and one immediately notes the concern in the emperor's face. Perhaps he will grant the barbarian clemency.
Figure 3.11: Dying Gaul. Source: Erik Drost, 2010.
Another important sculpture in the Palazzo Nuova is the Dying Gaul (Figure 3.11). This is a Roman copy of a Greek Hellenistic original, which was made of bronze. The original was from Pergamon, a Hellenistic court city of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). The Pergamenes defeated the Gauls and erected victory sculptures atop their acropolis and the Dying Gaul was one of these. By seeing an admirable Gaul, fighting death, the Pergamenes would have looked even better for conquering them. The Hellenistic period was known for its naturalism, along with complex poses, increased emotion, and less frontality. All these characteristics are visible within the sculpture of the Dying Gaul. First, the pose is dynamic. The figure reclines on a shield, with his right leg bent, his left hand resting on it. His right hand is on the shield, propping up his body. There is a mortal wound on the right part of his chest. The Gaul’s head is looking downward, brows furrowed as he grimaces in pain. This is not a sculpture that was meant to be seen only from a frontal perspective. Because of its dynamic, complex pose, the viewer needs to walk around it and see it from all angles.
The Capitoline Hill and Theater of Marcellus
The figure is easily identified as a Gaul by his hairstyle, which is short, spiky, and disheveled, a common coiffure for a barbarian. He also has a mustache, which marks him out as a foreigner. Finally, he wears a Gallic torque around his neck.
Figure 3.12: Capitoline Venus. Source: Jastrow, 2006.
Another important Hellenistic sculpture (this one is also a Roman copy) is the Capitoline Venus (Figure 3.12). This marble copy is a little over life-size. During the Late Classical period and into the Hellenistic, the subject of the nude goddess became popular, especially depictions of the goddess of love. The Capitoline Venus is an example of that new sculptural type and shows a modest Venus, naked as she tries to cover herself. Her left hand covers her pubic area while her right arms and hand are right below her breasts, which calls attention to them. Her hair is drawn up and her clothes have been laid on the vase beside her: she is about to take a bath. Finally, the Palazzo Nuova is an ideal museum to see busts of Roman emperors and empresses. The aptly named Hall of Emperors in the Palazzo
Nuova highlights these imperial figures. From Augustus to Gallienus, Livia to Faustina, this room is filled with masterpieces. During the Augustan period, Augustus and his predecessors depicted themselves idealized yet individualized, with comma-like locks of hair. The Julio-Claudian emperors who follow Augustus adopted their forebear's style in an attempt to link themselves to this emperor. The Flavian dynasty was marked by a veristic style. Instead of idealism, sculptures like those of Vespasian and Titus seen in the Hall of Emperors do not show idealized versions of the emperor. Instead, the sculptor looked at the sitter, noting and recording the wrinkles, bags under the eyes, and balding accurately. By using this veristic, more truthful style, the Flavians were probably trying to mark their dynasty out as different from the Julio-Claudians. During the height of the Roman Empire (Trajan and Hadrian), there was a return to idealism; they wanted to connect themselves back to the Golden Age established by Augustus. In the first half of the second century CE, drills and pupils began to be incised. Hadrian also wears a beard, something that subsequent emperors will pick up on. With the Antonines, they continue to use the drill to play with the textures and depth of the hair and beard, creating an almost spongy quality. They wear the beard to connect themselves back to Hadrian. In portraits of imperial women, there is likewise a variation between idealism and verism as one progresses through the centuries of the Roman Empire. In addition, different periods have varying hairstyles, as imperial women keep up with the fashion trends of the day. For example, in the Flavian dynasty, women have a beehive-type hairstyle while during the reign of Hadrian, an ancient Greek hairstyle comes to dominate.
Theater of Marcellus Descending the Cordonato, following the Via del Teatro di Marcello leads to the remains of the Theater of Marcellus (Figure 3.13). The Romans loved entertainment and while the Colosseum was the first permanent amphitheater in Rome, the Theater of Marcellus was the first permanent theater in the ancient city. While amphitheaters held events like gladiatorial battles, theaters performed plays, both tragedies and comedies.
The Capitoline Hill and Theater of Marcellus
Figure 3.13: Theater of Marcellus. Source: Public Domain.
The theater of Marcellus was originally begun by Pompey in the late Republican period. For political purposes, he commissioned the building of this theater, which is in the Campus Martius. Very little of the original sculpture still exists, but because a modern building was constructed with the ancient monument, one can get a glimpse of its original graceful arch, which the street curves around. In antiquity, the façade of the Theater of Marcellus was made of travertine. In the Theater of Marcellus, there are forty-one arches that are flanked by half columns. Originally three stories high, each level's columns and half columns has a different classical order. On the bottom level, they are Doric, in the middle Ionic, and at the top, which is now missing, there would have been no arches but Corinthian pilasters. Less than one hundred years later, this façade would have a great influence on the Colosseum. For the rest of the structure, inside the theater was open to the air and was shaped like a crescent moon. In antiquity, it would have held around 15,000 to 20,000 people. The theater itself was 111 meters in diameter. The emperor Augustus renamed the theater in 13 BCE, dedicated it to his deceased grandson, Marcellus.
Sources Ackerman, James S. The Architecture of Michelangelo. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986. Anderson, J. The Historical Topography of the Imperial Fora. Brussels: Latomus, 1984. Augenti, Andrea. Rome: Art and Archaeology. Florence: Scala, 2007. Brodsky, Joseph. Campidoglio: Michelangelo's Roman Capital. New York City: Random House, 1994 Carandini, Andrea. The Atlas of Ancient Rome: Biography and Portraits of the City. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017. Coarelli, Filippo. Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide. Translated by James J. Clauss and Daniel P. Harmon. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. Kleiner, Diana E.E. Roman Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Nash, Ernest. Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome. New York City: Hacker Art Books, 1981. Nickerson, Angela N. A Journey into Michelangelo's Rome. Albany, CA: Roaring Forties Press, 2008. Ramage, Nancy H. and Andrew Ramage. Roman Art and Architecture. Fifth Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. Richardson, Frank. A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. Strong, Donald. Roman Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976.
CHAPTER FOUR THE CAMPUS MARTIUS, PIAZZA DI SPAGNA, AND PIAZZA DEL POPOLO
Introduction This chapter explores the ancient art and monuments in the Campus Martius (Field of Mars), an area along the Tiber River that is nestled between the Capitoline, Quirinal, and Pincian hills. Since the beginning of Rome, this area in the bend of the river was continuously used. During the time of kings, several temples were built in the Campus Martius. By the Roman Republic, it was utilized as a site of military training in addition to horse and foot races. By the Roman Empire, more temples and tombs were built in the Campus Martius; this was where the Roman triumphal procession began, and thus the large number of honorific temples is appropriate. Many of these monuments honored Roman emperors’ and their families. Next, this chapter examines the famous Piazza di Spagna and the Piazza del Popolo, as both are within close to the Campus Martius. While not an ancient monument, the eighteenth century Spanish Steps has become a famous symbol of Rome. A short jaunt from the Spanish Steps is the Piazza del Popolo, a striking square with several churches and fountains.
Ara Pacis Augustae One of the most important complexes within the Campus Martius district, and one that is still largely intact, is the Ara Pacis Augustae precinct (Figure 4.1). The altar, mausoleum, and obelisk/sundial of this complex was commissioned by the emperor Augustus to celebrate his most important achievement: the pax romana or Roman peace.
Figure 4.1: Ara Pacis Augustae. Source: Manfred Heyde, 2009.
Octavian was the adopted grand-nephew of Julius Caesar, the famous Republican general and statesman who wanted to become the first emperor of Rome. But Julius Caesar was not able to attain this dream as he was infamously assassinated on the Ides of March in 44 BCE. Julius Caesar's grand-nephew completed his uncle’s dream by eventually defeating his opponents, Marc Antony and Cleopatra, at the famous Battle of Actium in 31 BCE, thus making him the sole ruler of Rome. In 27 BCE, the Senate bestowed upon Octavian a new name, Augustus, meaning the “revered one;” this is when the Roman Empire officially begins. Augustus was quick to utilize art in the service of propaganda, advertising his ideology and politics. The new emperor was shrewd in that he realized the power of images. He believed that art legitimized his right to rule and showcase his important accomplishments. In the architecture and sculpture of Augustus, the emperor usually highlighted three things about himself. First, he frequently liked to show himself as a staunch supporter of Roman religion. For example, there are sculptures of the emperor with his toga pulled up over his head (signifying that he is in the act of sacrifice), pouring a libation from a patera. In these sculptures, Augustus wanted the viewer to know that the emperor was maintaining the
The Campus Martius, Piazza di Spagna, and Piazza del Popolo
prosperity of the Empire through this religious act and that all Roman citizens should follow his example. Second, Augustus always liked to highlight his military victories, especially his success at the Battle of Actium. Finally, in his monuments, Augustus continually advertised that he was the bringer of the pax romana. Because of Augustus, there were no more civil wars in Rome. There was peace, fertility, and prosperity. In his art, Augustus also showed his connection to the gods, dynastic succession, and various social policies that he wanted the public to understand and support. Many of these propagandistic messages are on full display in the Ara Pacis Augustae, which is housed in Richard Meier's newly designed museum, which opened in 2006. The Ara Pacis Augustae, or Altar of Augustan Peace, was the most important monument in Rome from Augustus’ reign. This marble altar, replete with sculptures, is made of marble and is a permanent reminder of Augustus’ most important accomplishment: the pax romana. The Roman peace established by Augustus had a positive effect not only in Rome and Italy, but throughout the entire Empire. Construction of the altar began in 13 BCE and was completed in 9 BCE, culminating in a dedication attended by the most important members of the imperial circle. The altar is square-shaped, with an entrance on both the front and the back. A short single flight of stairs leads to both entrances. Inside, there is an altar where sacrifices would have been performed. The exterior walls are decorated with relief sculptures of garlands, overtly celebrating fertility of the pax romana. Within these garlands are various fruits, all representing the crops that were harvested at different times of the year. Holding up the garlands are bucrania, or bulls’ skulls, which is a reference to the animals that would have been sacrificed to ensure the continuing of the pax romana. Paterae hover above the center of the garlands; these are offering bowls used for pouring ritual libations. Above the entablature is a small frieze depicting processing figures. Here, these figures are generic and not individualized and therefore the procession and sacrifice depicted stands in for all the processions and sacrifices that will occur at this altar, now and in the future. On the exterior of the Ara Pacis Augustae, there are several different zones of sculpture. First, on the lowest level and wrapping around the entire structure is relief sculpture of decorative floral, vegetal motifs interspersed with interesting little animals. Second, on the long sides and above the vegetation, there are two long panels showing a procession. Third, on both the front and the back sides, there are two relief panels each that show figural scenes important to the history of Rome.
Acanthus vines fill the lowest level, covering almost the entire space with their undulating vines and flowers. One might look at all the acanthus and think that it has nothing to do with Augustus’ theme of the pax romana, but this is far from the case. The pax romana allows for crops and plants to flourish, much like the abundant acanthus vines seen in the bottom level. Within the vines, there are various creatures, from swans and snakes to lizards and various insects.
Figure 4.2: Section of the Imperial Procession. Source: Public Domain.
On the long sides of the Ara Pacis Augustae are the scenes of an Imperial Procession (Figure 4.2). Unlike the procession occurring within the altar itself (which is generic), the procession on the exterior is a specific historic event: the dedication of the Ara Pacis Augustae on January 30, 9 BCE. The figures are highly naturalistic. Men, women, and children are included within this scene and there are varying levels of relief that give an impression of depth. The inclusion of women and children was highly unusual in a public monument. Some of the children, specifically Gaius and Lucius, represent Augustus’ dynastic aspirations – he wants his grandsons to become emperor after his death. A young Tiberius and Drusus also appear, with their mother Livia, who was Augustus’ wife. There is even a barbarian youngster, who is probably a reference to the wars that continually must be waged to maintain the pax romana. The presence of children was also an allusion to one of Augustus’ social policies: he wanted to increase the birth rate amongst the patricians,
The Campus Martius, Piazza di Spagna, and Piazza del Popolo
which had declined. Augustus wanted to ensure that the numbers increased so he wrote a law that created incentives for patrician families to have more children. In sum, this processional frieze highlights Augustus’ dynastic hopes, a social policy, and the dedication of the Ara Pacis itself, a celebration of the emperor’s role in the pax romana. The final zone of sculpture found within the Ara Pacis Augustae is found in the four relief panels on the front and back of the altar. Three of the four friezes are in a poor state of preservation. All four represent mythological subjects that reference the legendary history of Rome. Despite the deterioration of the sculptures, the relief sculptures have been identified as: 1) Romulus and Remus, 2) Tellus panel, 3) possibly Aeneas, and 4) Roma. First, on the northwestern side of the Ara Pacis is the panel with Romulus and Remus, which is badly preserved. The twins are accompanied by Mars, who wears his arms and armor as he is the god of war. Romulus and Remus are babies and suckle the she-wolf. The inclusion of Mars is important as he is the father of the twins, and because Romulus will become the first king of Rome, Mars is consequently the father of all of Rome. The best-preserved relief sculpture is the so-called Tellus panel (Figure 4.3). Highly classicizing and naturalistic in style, this panel focuses on the earth mother goddess, Tellus Italiae. She is responsible for bringing the abundance to Rome, Italy, and the entire Empire. Thus, Tellus becomes a standard symbol of the fecundity of the pax romana and subtly refers to Augustus’ role in establishing it. The young goddess sits in the center of the scene, with drapery clinging to her body revealing her full breasts and navel. She is a fertile woman, which is further emphasized by the two babies she holds. Tellus is seated on a rock and on her left knee is a chubby, nude baby, who reaches a hand up to his mother. Various fruits are strewn on Tellus’ lap. On the other side, her right arm cradles another naked boy. Both these babies symbolize fertility and abundance. Because of Augustus, babies can now be born and can prosper, all because of the pax romana. Other symbols of agriculture and abundance surround Tellus. At the goddess’ feet and in the foreground are a cow and a sheep. Behind Tellus and carved in lower relief are crops swaying in the wind. Flanking Tellus on either side are female personifications of the winds. Nude from the waist up, both hold billowing mantles that arch above their heads. They each rest on an animal: on the left, she sits on a swan and on the right, a crocodile-like animal. In short, the winds, animals, crops all refer to the
pax romana. Rome and the Empire will flourish and be abundant with crops, animals, and overall prosperity.
Figure 4.3: Tellus Panel. Source: Amphipolis, 2014.
The southwest panel is the second best-preserved and has commonly been identified as a depiction of Aeneas sacrificing to the household gods. Like the scene with Romulus and Remus, this panel also refers to the history of Rome. Aeneas is on the right, nude from the waist up, and is depicted as an older, bearded man. His toga is pulled over his head to signify that he is sacrificing and his right hand is outstretched and probably would have held a patera, or ritual vessel used to pour out libations. On the left side are two additional figures, Aeneas’ attendants who will help with the sacrifice; in front of them is a sow. This scene is usually interpreted as the Trojan hero Aeneas arriving in Rome after the war and performing a sacrifice for Juno. The last panel is probably the worst preserved of the four. This northeast panel depicted the goddess Roma, seated with her arms and armor. Originally, she was flanked by two goddesses, most likely Honos and Virtus (Honor and Virtue). In antiquity, all Romans would have been able to see the altar, but depending on your class and education, you would have gotten different
The Campus Martius, Piazza di Spagna, and Piazza del Popolo
things out of it. In other words, there are various levels of understanding. If you were illiterate and of a lower class, you probably would have been most fascinated with the lowest level containing the acanthus vines. This class of people would have delighted at looking through the acanthus vines, trying to catch a glimpse of an animal or insect. With plants growing and wildlife abundant, this person would have understood that during the time of Augustus, nature was flourishing – and this was due to the emperor himself. Someone of a higher class, especially a member of the imperial family, would have been able to read the Ara Pacis on a more sophisticated level. Yes, they would still see the bottom level as a reference to the pax romana, but they would also quickly recognize the individuals depicted in the processional frieze and pick out Augustus’ hoped-for successors. They also might deduce that the inclusion of children, which had not been done before, was to encourage patricians to have more babies. Finally, by looking at the panels, they would see a representation of their beloved city and Augustus’ huge accomplishment of the pax romana. In 1938, a museum was built around the Ara Pacis Augustae. Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator of Italy (1922-1943), wanted to bring attention to the monuments from the Roman Empire in order to glorify Rome’s golden age but also to connect himself to those past emperors (especially Augustus) and to aggrandize himself. In the 1990s, Mussolini’s museum was crumbling and thus a new museum was built. From 19952006, Richard Meier designed the new, state-of-the-art museum for the Ara Pacis Augustae. With walls made of glass, one can catch a glimpse of the Ara Pacis as you walk or drive along the Lungotevere Marzio, next to the Tiber River. But not everyone likes Richard Meier’s museum and it has recently been the victim of vandalism.
Horologium and Mausoleum of Augustus During the Roman Empire, the Ara Pacis Augustae did not stand in isolation but was part of a larger complex, all of which was meant to honor Augustus. This precinct consisted of the Ara Pacis Augustae, a Horologium (sundial), and the Mausoleum of Augustus (Figure 4.4). The Horologium was made of an obelisk appropriated from ancient Egypt. This was a blatant symbol of victory, specifically Augustus’ (or Octavian’s at the time) conquest of Egypt at the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE when he defeated Cleopatra, the Ptolemaic queen (along with the Roman Marc Antony). In addition, the obelisk functioned as a gnomon, or the part of sundial that casts a shadow. As the year progressed, the shadow
would fall in different places. On Augustus’ birthday, September 23, the shadow of the obelisk fell directly onto the Ara Pacis Augustae. This obelisk is no longer in the Campus Martius district, but it does still exist. If you want to see it today, go to Piazza di Montecitorio, where it was placed in 1792.
Figure 4.4: Mausoleum of Augustus. Source: ryarwood, 2005.
Augustus also wanted this precinct to have his final resting place. The Mausoleum of Augustus is currently being restored and the plan is to open to tourists in 2019. Augustus planned this mausoleum to be a testament not only to his role as the first emperor of Rome but also to his Julio-Claudian family. Consequently, not only Augustus’ cremated ashes were buried in the mausoleum, but also other members of the JulioClaudian family including Livia, Marcus Agrippa, Gaius and Lucius, and Claudius. Therefore, the mausoleum ultimately serves as a symbol of the lasting power of the Julio-Claudians. Augustus began building his mausoleum following his victory at the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE and it was completed three short years later in 28 BCE, at which time it was the largest tomb in Rome. The building was centrally planned with a diameter of about 87 meters and would have been roughly 42 meters high. The circular building consisted of three levels.
The Campus Martius, Piazza di Spagna, and Piazza del Popolo
The first level, made of brick, concrete, and dirt, was revetted with travertine and had an entrance flanked by two obelisks. Like the obelisk of the Horologium, these two have also been relocated, in this case to the Esquiline Hill and Santa Maria Maggiore. In addition, at the entrance there were bronze plaques with excerpts from the Res Gestae Divi Augustae, or “Things Done by the Divine Augustus.” This was written by Augustus and describes in detail all his accomplishments. This lower level was topped with dirt and had cypress trees planted within it. The second level consists of another, smaller centrally planned structure. This travertine covered section was decorated with pilasters and it might have been topped with a conical roof. Some believe this mound on the top of the structure was a reference to tumuli tombs of the ancient Etruscans, like those in Cerveteri and Tarquinia. Alluding to the tumulus was a deliberate decision by Augustus and it served to link himself to the distant past and praise his Italic heritage. A large statue of Augustus might have topped this entire structure. The inside of the Mausoleum of Augustus has a corridor that ran from the entrance of the structure to the center of the tomb. Within the center was the most important chamber of the mausoleum and it consisted of three niches that held the urns of cremated ashes of Augustus and other important members of the Julio-Claudian family members. Taken together, the Horologium, Ara Pacis Augustae, and Mausoleum of Augustus serve as the ultimate symbol of the power and accomplishments of the first emperor of Rome.
Mausoleum of Hadrian (Castel Sant' Angelo) Before heading to Piazza del Popolo and Piazza di Spagna, one must look west across the Tiber River for a brief examination of the Mausoleum of Hadrian, which since the Middle Ages has been called Castel Sant’ Angelo (Figure 4.5). This is an important monument to investigate after studying Augustus’ mausoleum complex because Hadrian, who ruled a century later, would be profoundly influenced by his predecessor of the golden age. But Hadrian, as will be seen, while influenced by Augustus’ earlier mausoleum, creates a bigger and better version for himself.
Figure 4.5: Mausoleum of Hadrian. Source: Livioandronico2013, 2014.
Hadrian began construction of his mausoleum in 128 and his successor, Antoninus Pius, completed the shortly after Hadrian's death in 139. Even from a distance, the Mausoleum of Hadrian consciously references the Mausoleum of Augustus. First, the circular, tiered design harkens back to Augustus’ tomb. Like Augustus’, it is circular in plan with a drum on top. But Hadrian’s mausoleum is much larger, measuring 50 meters in height; at the time, it was the tallest structure in Rome. In antiquity, there also would have been a sculpture of the emperor in his quadriga. Hadrian also designed his mausoleum to be the final resting place not only of his own cremated ashes, but also the remains of other important family members; every subsequent emperor’s ashes, through Caracalla, were placed in the Mausoleum of Hadrian. Hadrian also built a bridge across the Tiber River, the Pons Aelius, connecting it with the Campus Martius and consequently Augustus. During the Middle Ages, the Mausoleum of Hadrian was circled with ramparts and became a citadel, which was used in subsequent centuries by the popes as both a fortress and a castle. Its modern-day name, Castel Sant’Angelo, refers to the bronze sculpture of an angel on top of the structure. Today, the Castel Sant’ Angelo is a museum.
The Campus Martius, Piazza di Spagna, and Piazza del Popolo
Ponte Sant' Angelo/Pons Aelius/Aelian Bridge Leading to the Castel Sant' Angelo is the Ponte Sant’ Angelo, which Hadrian built. In antiquity, this bridge was referred to as the Pons Aelius or Pons Adrianus, referencing its patron Hadrian. During the Baroque period, Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed ten statues to decorate the Pons Aelius; these angels hold objects that symbolized Christ’s passion.
Piazza del Popolo From the Ara Pacis Augustae, a couple of blocks east is the Via del Corso, one of the major shopping streets of Rome. Heading north, one arrives at Piazza del Popolo (Figure 4.6), a masterpiece of Renaissance and Baroque urban planning. During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, popes engaged in urban planning to connect the most important churches of Rome while also transforming the Medieval city into something more modern. Many popes and architects had a hand in creating the Piazza del Popolo, beginning with Latino Giovenale Manetti in 1538. Pope Paul III commissioned Manetti to create a piazza that would serve as the convergence point of the three of the great streets of Rome: the Via del Corso, Via del Babuino, and Via di Ripetta. Looking at a map, one can see that these converge from the south and meet like a trident at Piazza del Popolo. The use of three streets is a deliberate reference to the Holy Trinity. Between the rays of these streets are two seventeenth century Baroque churches: Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto, whose façades were eventually updated by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Carlo Fontana in the seventeenth century. Today’s Piazza del Popolo is laid out according to the design of Giuseppe Valadier (1811-22). It is a huge, oval piazza that connects to the Ara Pacis Augustae, the main shopping street of Rome (Via del Corso with Gucci, Bulgari, Valentino, et al), and the Spanish Steps. Furthermore, the Pincian hill to the east links the piazza with the Villa Borghese. In the center of the Piazza del Popolo is a huge fountain with an Egyptian obelisk in its center. Augustus took this obelisk from the Egyptian city of Heliopolis after defeating Egypt. Once in ancient Rome, it was placed in the center of the Circus Maximus. Rising 24 meters in the air, the obelisk today stands in the Piazza del Popolo as a symbol of the conquest of Christianity over paganism. The obelisk is additionally surrounded by four lions that are fountains. Water sprays from the mouths of the beasts into the large basin below.
Figure 4.6: Piazza del Popolo. Source: WolfgangM, 2005.
Across from the twin churches is Santa Maria del Popolo, a treasure house of Renaissance and Baroque art with works by famous artists like Caravaggio, Raphael, and Pinturicchio. In the north transept are two famous paintings by the Roman Baroque master, Caravaggio: Conversion of St. Paul (on the left) and Crucifixion of St. Peter (on the right). Both date to early in the seventeenth century, 1600-1601, and are hallmarks of the Baroque style with its use of chiaroscuro, theatricality, and heightened drama.
Piazza di Spagna From Piazza del Popolo, heading south on Via del Babuino brings one to the Piazza di Spagna (Figure 4.7), or the famous Spanish Steps. For centuries, the Spanish Steps have been the literary and cultural hub of Rome. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, foreigners congregated here, especially English ones, and as a result the English expatriate community settled here. The English poet, John Keats, died in a house near Piazza di Spagna and the British even had a consulate in the square. Because of its history, the piazza and the Spanish Steps continue to be a meeting point for both foreigners and Romans alike.
The Campus Martius, Piazza di Spagna, and Piazza del Popolo
Figure 4.7: Piazza di Spagna. Source: Arnaud 25, 2012.
The Piazza di Spagna and its steps were named after the Spanish Embassy. Its architect, Francesco de Sanctis was Italian while the patron, Étienne Gueffier, was a French diplomat. The Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti, as the Spanish Steps are known in Italian, were built in the
eighteenth century (1723-25) and consist of twelve flights of 137 steps made of travertine. As one ascends, there are plenty of built-in benches to stop and rest or enjoy the Roman view. On either side are striking homes and buildings, along with gardens on terraces. During May, azaleas cover the stairs. The staircase links two major piazze: Piazza di Spagna at the bottom and Piazza Trinità at the top; the façade of the church dominates at the top. It also connects the Piazza di Spagna with the Pincio/Pincian Hill above. Thus, like the Piazza del Popolo, the Spanish Steps serves as an excellent and beautiful example of urban planning. At the bottom of the Spanish Steps is the Fontana della Barcaccia, a fountain designed by Pietro Bernini, the father of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The composition consists of a boat with a high bow and stern, with water leaking slowly leaking from the sides into the larger basin below
Sources Ancient History Encyclopedia: https://www.ancient.eu/ Augenti, Andrea. Rome: Art and Archaeology. Florence: Scala, 2007. Carandini, Andrea. The Atlas of Ancient Rome: Biography and Portraits of the City. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017. Castriota, David. The Ara Pacis Augustae and the Imagery of Abundance in Later Greek and Early Roman Imperial Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995. Coarelli, Filippo. Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide. Translated by James J. Clauss and Daniel P. Harmon. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. Davies, Penelope J.E. Death and the Emperor: Roman Imperial Funerary Monuments from Augustus to Marcus Aurelius. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004. Harris, Ann Sutherland. Seventeenth-Century Art and Architecture. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd., 2005. Hartt, Frederick and David G. Wilkins. History of Italian Renaissance Art. Seventh edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2011. Jacobs, Paul and Diane Conlin. Campus Martius: The Field of Mars in the Life of Ancient Rome. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Kleiner, Diana E.E. Roman Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Nash, Ernest. Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome. New York City: Hacker Art Books, 1981.
The Campus Martius, Piazza di Spagna, and Piazza del Popolo
Ramage, Nancy H. and Andrew Ramage. Roman Art and Architecture. Fifth Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. Richardson, Frank. A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. Sanfilippo, Mario. Fountains of Rome. London: Tauris Parke Books, 1996. Scribner III, Charles. Bernini. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1991. Strong, Donald. Roman Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976. Toynbee, J.M.C. Death and Burial in the Roman World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. Ward-Perkins, J.B. Roman Imperial Architecture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981.
CHAPTER FIVE THE FORUM BOARIUM
Introduction This chapter concentrates on the ancient and Early Christian monuments in and around the Forum Boarium, an area of ancient Rome nestled between the Tiber River and the Capitoline, Aventine, and Palatine Hills. The Forum Boarium was one of the most important locations of life in the ancient city. Always busy, the Forum Boarium is where the two most important modes of transportation met: the Tiber River and the major north-south road that went from Etruria to Campania. Construction in the Forum Boarium began during the time of King Servius Tullius. Throughout its history, this area was utilized as the cattle market. Eventually, several temples were built on this plain, though many were constantly being rebuilt due to flood or fire. Around the Forum Boarium there are also several other ancient monuments, including two Roman arches, the Arch of the Argentarii and the Arch of Janus. In addition, southeast of the Forum Boarium are the remains of the Circus Maximus, which was used for spectacles like horse racing, and the Baths of Caracalla. Finally, near the Colosseum is the Early Christian church, San Clemente, which was built atop an ancient temple and houses a treasure trove of medieval mosaics and paintings.
Temple of Fortuna Virilis/Temple of Portunus In the heart of the Forum Boarium and nestled along the Tiber River is the Temple of Fortuna Virilis/Portunus (Figure 5.1), an extremely wellpreserved structure from the Republican period that was dedicated to either Fortuna Virilis (the goddess of Fortune) or Portunus (the harbor god). Later in its history, the temple was converted into a Christian church, which is one of the major reasons why it is well preserved; in 872 it became Santa Maria Egiziaca. This small temple illustrates what many of the ruined temples in Rome must have originally looked like. In addition, the Temple of Fortuna Virilis/Portunus also is a testament to the ways in
The Forum Boarium
which Roman architecture incorporated both Greek and Etruscan influences, creating a finished product that was distinctly Roman.
Figure 5.1: Temple of Portunus. Source: Mac9, 2005.
First, the Temple of Fortuna Virilis/Portunus is made mainly of stone and dates to the second century BCE. The temple adopts many familiar Greek features, including fluted columns, the Ionic order, entablature, pediment, and cella. Tetrastyle and longitudinal in plan, the temple consists of a symmetrical rectangle. Unlike the Parthenon, the supreme example of Greek architecture, the Temple of Fortuna Virilis/Portunus is not peripteral. Instead, it is pseudoperipteral, with freestanding and engaged columns around its perimeter. Engaged columns are a Roman feature; they are semicircular columns attached to the wall and thus serve no structural purpose. Inside, the Temple of Fortuna Virilis/Portunus, like Greek temples, has a cella, which was where the cult statue of the deity was placed. The Romans conceived of the temple as the home for the god and the space was not used for congregational worship. This is one of the reasons why the Temple of Fortuna Virilis/Portunus was so small; not many people could have fit within the cella. To show your piety in antiquity, sacrifices were performed outside of the temple.
The Temple of Fortuna Virilis/Portunus also contains Etruscan features. First, the temple sits on a high podium and has a deep porch, both of which are distinctly Etruscan features that can be seen in temples like the Temple of Minerva at Veii. In addition, the Temple of Fortuna Virilis/Portunus has a single flight of stairs, another Etruscan feature. The Greeks, in contrast, usually had stairs that went all the way around the temple, as can be seen in the Parthenon. In the Temple of Fortuna Virilis/Portunus, there is a single flight of stairs leading to the deep porch, which then gives access to the cella. Like the Etruscans, the Romans placed many of their temples in the middle of the town, as is seen with the Temple of Fortuna Virilis/Portunus. But the Romans differ from the Etruscans in materials, who used mostly wood and terracotta and a small amount of stone, which means that many of these older temples no longer survive. The Romans used stone and concrete.
The Temple of Hercules Victor Just south of the Temple of Fortuna Virilis/Portunus is another remarkably well-preserved but small structure from the second century BCE: the Temple of Hercules Victor (Figure 5.2). Unlike the previous temple, this one is circular in plan and it was restored later during the Empire during the reign of Tiberius. During the Middle Ages, this temple was converted into a Christian church (Santa Stefano alle Carozze), thus explaining its good state of preservation. The Temple of Hercules Victor was dedicated to the mythological hero, an identification that was made through the discovery of an inscription on the base of the cult state that would have stood within the circular cella. Furthermore, this area in the Forum Boarium has significance for the hero, since this is where Hercules completed one of his infamous twelve labors: his eighth feat, the killing of the monster Cacos. The temple is peripteral and surrounding the cella are twenty marble Corinthian columns. The entire structure, just like the Temple of Fortuna Virilis/Portunus, rests upon a high podium. Stairs wrap around this high podium. It is small and is only about 15 meters in diameter and roughly 11 meters tall. The present roof is a later addition.
The Forum Boarium
Figure 5.2: Temple of Hercules Victor. Source: Livioandronico2013, 2016.
Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth) Across the street from the Temple of Hercules Victor is Santa Maria in Cosmedin. This medieval church incorporated two earlier structures: the statio annonae and the diaconia. The statio annonae, or the market inspector’s office, was used in ancient Rome when this area functioned as the Forum Boarium. The Early Christian diaconia was a welfare center that dated to around 600 CE. One of the ancient treasures in the narthex of the church is the infamous Bocca della Verità, or Mouth of Truth (Figure 5.3). This was a large drain cover from the Roman Empire that is in the shape of a man’s bearded face. Made of marble, the slab is large and measures 1.75 meters in diameter. It depicts the face of Oceanus, the god of the oceans, who was typically depicted as an older man. He has long scraggly hair and a beard. His eyes, nostrils, and mouth are carved all the way through. Legend has it, if you stick your hand in the mouth of this slab, and tell a lie, the mouth will bite your hand off.
Figure 5.3: Bocca della Verità. Source: Roughneck, 2004.
Arch of the Argentarii In the Forum Boarium, there is an ancient monument that dates to the reign of Septimius Severus of the early third century CE: the small Arch of the Argentarii (Figure 5.4). Previous chapters explored triumphal arches and their imperial patrons. But sometimes, wealthy citizens of Rome were also able to erect arches – the Arch of the Argentarii is an example of this. The Arch of the Argentarii, like triumphal arches, still serves a political purpose, as its patrons were honoring the emperor Septimius Severus and his family, including his wife Julia Domna, and two sons, Caracalla and Geta. The Argentarii, or money changers, along with cattle dealers, were the patrons of the Arch of the Argentarii (argentarii comes from the Latin word for silver; AR is the symbol of silver on the periodic table of elements). An inscription proclaims that the Arch of the Argentarii was made by these local merchants to honor Septimius Severus and his family; it is dated to 204 CE.
The Forum Boarium
Figure 5.4: Arch of the Argentarii. Source: Public Domain.
This arch is different from triumphal arches because the Arch of the Argentarii is not entirely freestanding. Instead, the arch connects to a building, thus creating a kind of doorway. Most likely the building the arch was originally attached to was the money changers’ or cattle dealers’ home base. The arch is made of marble, though it has a travertine base. On the single post, there are four panels filled with badly-preserved relief sculptures. The most significant of these two panels shows the emperor and his family and originally would have been placed in one at the inner sections of the opening of the arch. Known as Panel A, this scene depicts Septimius Severus, Julia Domna, and Geta sacrificing at a tripod. The emperor pulls his toga over his head, signifying that he is performing a religious ritual, while he pours a libation onto the tripod before him. Septimius Severus, standing on the left, is easily recognizable, with his bifurcated beard and curly locks of hair on his forehead; he is the pontifex maximus. Julia Domna stands next to her husband, toga drawn above her diademed head as well, as she stands before the tripod. Missing, though, is Geta, their youngest son, who originally was included to the right of Julia Domna. However, Geta, a bad emperor, was stricken with the damnatio
memoriae, and thus his image was removed from countless monuments, including this one. The other scene on the interior of the bay, known as Panel B, depicts a lone Caracalla dressed in a toga. The emperor’s son holds a patera in his right hand and he pours the liquid onto another tripod. The entire left side of the relief sculpture is empty. According to scholars, Caracalla’s wife, Plautilla, and her father would have been on the left side. The relief sculpture was a kind of wedding portrait. There are smaller relief panels below Panels A and B, which depict sacrificial cattle. Above the main panels are festoons and figures of Victories. Long vertical corner sections of the arch are decorated with a floral motif: these are acanthus vines, typically a symbol of abundance in the Roman Empire. In short, in the Arch of the Argentarii, private citizens erected a monument that had an imperial message. The Severan dynasty was honored and in both the most important panels, imperial family members were shown sacrificing. The garlands, Victories, and acanthus vines, along with the scenes of sacrifice, make it clear that the monument celebrates the victories of the Severan dynasty. No one knows for sure why the money changers and cattle dealers would have erected this monument to honor the imperial family, but they might have done this if the Severan dynasty had enacted laws that benefited them or perhaps graced them with an imperial favor. Another possibility is that the Argentarii were hoping to be granted an imperial favor, if Septimius Severus was impressed with this monument that honored his family.
Arch of Janus/Quadrifrons Arch At the northeastern section of the Forum Boarium is another arch, the only quadrifrons arch remaining in the city of Rome (there may have been more, but there are no other extant examples). This monument is called the Arch of Janus or the Quadrifrons Arch (Figure 5.5). No one knows the exact significance of this four-sided arch, but it was built atop the Cloaca Maxima, or a drain, which then poured into the nearby Tiber River. It is possible that the Arch of Janus was built as a boundary marker to delineate the limit of the Forum Boarium. Another possibility is that this massive arch, which measures 16 meters high and 12 meters wide, might have served as a shelter for the cattle dealers in the area.
The Forum Boarium
Figure 5.5: Arch of Janus (Giovanni Battista Piranesi engraving). Source: Public Domain.
The Arch of Janus was dedicated to the two-headed god, who was the protector and guardian of doors and gates. Thus, the dedication of the arch, which probably served as a crossroads, was appropriate. Significantly, after the reign of Domitian in the late first century CE, Janus was often depicted as four-headed, or quadrifrons, thus the fact that this arch has four sides to it. Built sometime in the fourth century CE, the Arch of Janus is quadrifrons with four large arched bays. The interior of the arch was constructed with cheap brick and then revetted with more expensive marble; it also has concrete vaults. Not well-preserved, the Arch of Janus most likely was originally decorated with an enormous amount of sculptures. The four sides of the arch have forty-eight small niches on them; each pier on all four sides had two rows of three niches. These niches would have been filled with sculpture of some kind, though all have been lost. These sculptures were probably flanked by small columns, but these too have been lost. The keystones on the north side and east side were further decorated with sculptures of Minerva and Roma respectively.
Circus Maximus Between the Palatine and Aventine Hills is the Circus Maximus (Figure 5.6), where visitors can still walk around the track, free of charge, since it is now a public park of Rome. This was the oldest and largest circus in Rome, which translates as the Latin for “circle.” This track was used for chariot races – the horses would circle the ring seven times. The track measures 621 meters in length and 118 meters wide. In addition, the Circus Maximus sometimes hosted events like mock sea battles and animal fights. Most importantly, the Circus Maximus was the site of the Ludi Romani, or Roman games that honored Jupiter, the head of the Roman pantheon.
Figure 5.6: Model of Rome with the Circus Maximus. Source: Pascal Radigue, 2007.
The earliest version of the Circus Maximus dates to the seventh century BCE. The Roman king Tarquinius Priscus supposedly had the first races here after an important victory (according to the Roman historian Livy). Throughout its history, the Circus Maximus was modified several times. The emperor Nero rebuilt it after a fire. Trajan, Caracalla, and Constantine all modified or rebuilt this venue of entertainment. The Circus
The Forum Boarium
Maximus was in use throughout the Roman Empire; the last games were in 549 CE under the Ostrogothic king Totila.
Figure 5.7: Plan of the Circus Maximus. Source: Public Domain.
The Circus Maximus is oblong in shape with straight sides and one circular end and one straight end (Figure 5.7). All sides but one were surrounded with rows of seats; the Circus Maximus could hold a significant amount of people within these stands: 150,000 to almost 400,000. The seats were constructed of concrete and stone at the bottom and wood at the top. The straight short end did not have seats but instead had carceres, or the stalls for the waiting horses and chariots. In the center of the Circus Maximus is a spina, which is a low wall. At either end of the spina there were two obelisks, which have since been moved elsewhere in Rome. Around the Circus Maximus, the streets were lined with shops and restaurants, providing the spectators with anything they might need from souvenirs to food or wine.
Baths of Caracalla In the distance to the northeast of the Circus Maximus are the ruins of one of the largest thermae, or baths, of ancient Rome. These are the Thermae Antoninianae, or the Baths of Caracalla (Figures 5.8 and 5.9), and they date to the early third century CE.
Figure 5.8: Reconstruction of the Baths of Caracalla. Soure: Public Domain.
In ancient Rome, the thermae contained much more than baths; they housed libraries, cafeterias, meeting halls, gymnasiums, saunas, massage parlors, shops, museums. As such, the baths served more than just a hygienic purpose. One would go to the thermae after a long day of work and bathe, but also engage in business, gossip, and shopping, among many other things. Some bathhouses had separate facilities for men and women, though as time went on, this changed so that men and women had different access times into the bathing facilities. Everyone in Rome was allowed access to the baths and going to the thermae was an important social event. The Roman emperors were responsible for the building of many of these bathing complexes. As has been seen in previous chapters, Roman art and architecture is usually about politics and constructing thermae served a distinct propagandistic purpose. Caracalla, the son of Septimius Severus built these baths so that all of Rome would know that he was concerned about their health and well-being.
The Forum Boarium
Figure 5.9: Remains of the Baths of Caracalla. Source: Chris 73, 2009.
When visiting the baths, one would start at the frigidarium, which contained a bath of cold water. At the Baths of Caracalla, this was the largest and most central of the rooms and it was originally three-bayed and covered with a groin vault (Figure 5.10). Along this same central axis there were two other important bathing spots in the Baths of Caracalla: the tepidarium and the caldarium. After finishing in the frigidarium, the bather would proceed to the tepidarium, which had tepid or lukewarm water. Finally, one would immerse oneself in the caldarium, which contained hot water. The caldarium in the Baths of Caracalla were circular and originally there was a dome on top, the span of which was not much smaller than the 44 meter span of the Pantheon. In the underground portion of the baths, workers toiled to stock the fires that would keep all the water at the correct temperature. Surrounding these bathing rooms were libraries, meeting rooms, and lecture halls. The Baths of Caracalla also included a large open-to-the-sky natatorium, or swimming pool, which was the size of an Olympic pool. The architect of the Baths of Caracalla is unknown. While most of the baths are in a state of ruin, one gets glimpses of the genius behind his design, especially when looking at scholars’ reproductions of these rooms. The architect thought deeply about the design of the rooms, their relation to each other, and utilized innovative Roman techniques and materials like arches and concrete to create massive spaces without any interior supports. The light streaming in would have reflected off the baths and water basins along with the elaborately tessellated floor mosaics and marble paneling of the walls and floors.
Figure 5.10: Plan of the Baths of Caracalla. Source: Public Domain.
Roman baths were also typically filled with an abundance of artworks, as was the case with the Baths of Caracalla, which housed all kinds of mosaics and sculptures. The subjects of the sculptures within the baths usually matched the function of these complexes, so that one sees a lot of works of Neptune, the god of the sea, and tritons and nereids, his entourage. Because bathing was hygienic, there were also often references to gods that had to do with health, like Asclepius. Many athletes exercised in the gymnasium of thermae, and thus many of the sculptures uncovered are of muscular athletes like Polykleitos’ famous Doryphoros and strong mythological heroes. Finally, because the thermae were ultimately used for propagandistic purposes, their decoration also included plenty of sculptures of the emperor and the imperial family. Excavations at the Baths of Caracalla first begin in the sixteenth century and forty-one sculptures were uncovered, some of which are amongst the most famous of Roman art (though they are copies of Greek
The Forum Boarium
originals). A Roman copy of Lysippos’ Weary Hercules (Figure 5.11) was found in the Baths of Caracalla, and instead of being placed in a niche (the typical setting for sculptures), Hercules was set up between columns so that he could be seen from both the front and the back. This was important because the hero was depicted after completing several of his labors. Hercules is tired and leaning against the club covered with a lion skin. When one walks to the back of the sculpture, the apples of the Hesperides are visible, clutched in the hero's hand. This sculpture is now in the Naples Archaeological Museum.
Figure 5.11: The Farnese Herakles. Source: Paul Stevenson, 2009.
The Belvedere Torso and the Mosaic of the Athletes, both now in the Vatican Museums, were also uncovered at the Baths of Caracalla. The Mosaic of the Athletes, which was found in the floor of one of the libraries, is brightly colored and is decorated with square panels containing busts of men and rectangular panels with full-length figures of athletes, all of whom have their hair tied up. The athletes, as is typical in Greece in
Rome, are nude, though the wrestlers at least have gloves tied on their hands. Their bodies are modeled in light and dark, creating bulging muscles. The clothed men in togas are the judges of these athletic competitions.
San Clemente Located near the Colosseum is San Clemente, dedicated to St. Clement, the third pope of Rome. The church provides a unique opportunity to explore different periods of Roman history all in one place, for the upper church of San Clemente, which dates to the twelfth century, was built on top of an earlier church dedicated to Clement from the fourth century, constructed after the legalization of Christianity. This fourth century church in turn was built next to a third century Mithraic temple, dedicated to Mithras. Today one can take a tour of the lower churches, though the discussion that follows will focus on two of the most celebrated artworks in the upper church of San Clemente: the breathtaking apse and triumphal arch mosaic and the series of frescoes dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria. St. Clement’s life was shrouded in mystery, and therefore many apocryphal legends were born, including the infamous tale of St. Clement drowning when he had an anchor attached to him; an anchor is still a symbol for the saint. San Clemente was the first church dedicated to him and was originally constructed in the late fourth century CE. The church was subsequently rebuilt in the eleventh through twelfth centuries, with some decorative additions from later centuries. Today if one visits San Clemente, one can see both the early (or lower) church and the newer (or upper) church. The lower church was discovered during excavations during the nineteenth century, which had been filled with earth to serve as a foundation for the new upper church. One of the most striking aspects of San Clemente is the mosaic in its apse (Figure 5.12), which, like other mosaics in this book (see especially Chapter Six), has abundant iconography. Dating to the twelfth century and lunette in shape, the mosaic is symmetrical. At the center, Christ is crucified on a blue cross; white doves decorate all four arms of the cross, twelve in total to allude to the twelve apostles. Standing and flanking the cross are the Virgin Mary and St. John the disciple. Above the cross is a colorful canopy, which was a common Early Christian symbol of heaven. A single hand at the bottom of the canopy is God’s hand, pointing at Christ. At the tip of the apse is a roundel with the chi rho device flanked
The Forum Boarium
by the Greek letters of alpha and omega. In short, Christ will last from the beginning until the end of time.
Figure 5.12: Apse Mosaic in San Clemente. Source: Public Domain.
On either side of Christ, the space is filled with intertwining acanthus vines. In fact, the image of Christ on the cross with vines sprouting from it conveys that this is an image of the Tree of Life. Furthermore, in Christian art acanthus vines are symbolic of eternal life and thus are appropriate to include in a scene with the crucifixion, since Christ will be resurrected and live forever. But the vines have further significance, because Christ envisioned himself as the vine, the beginning of it all, and his followers were the branches that extend from him. At the bottom of the acanthus vines, a river flows and is populated by all kinds of plants, animals, and people. The river is meant to represent the River Jordan, where Christ was first baptized. Deer stop to drink at the river. At the far left are two peacocks; this bird came to symbolize eternal life because its flesh, when cooked, was so tough and difficult to break down. In addition to these animals, people are also present, some going about their quotidian tasks, feeding animals, harvesting, shepherding. By including everyday people, this was meant to convey that anyone and everyone can achieve salvation through Christ. A Latin inscription is right below this scene and it translates as “The Church of Christ which the law makes wither but which the cross brings to life.”
Above the scenes of the river and in the first level of acanthus vines, there are four additional figures. These are four saints: Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory, and Jerome, all of whom were fathers of the church. Finally, below all of this is a register that contains thirteen lambs: the central one, with its halo, is Christ while the six that flank him on either side is another allusion to the twelve disciples. Framing the apse mosaic is the triumphal arch mosaic, at the center of which is a roundel of a haloed Christ with his traditional sign of blessing (two fingers raised); he holds a Bible in the other hand. Flanking Christ are the four Evangelists who are each represented by their symbolic animal form: the angel, ox, lion, and eagle. Moving to the right vertical section, there are two saints and an Old Testament prophet: Saints Peter and Clement, who holds his anchor, and Jeremiah at the bottom. The left has Saints Paul and Lawrence and the prophet Isaiah. Bethlehem and Jerusalem are at the very bottom of the left and right sides respectively. San Clemente also contains the Chapel of St. Catherine of Alexandria, which is decorated with scenes from the saint’s life, all completed by the fifteenth century Florentine artist, Masolino de Panicale, known more commonly as Masolino. This cycle, commissioned by a cardinal, represents the first High Renaissance works in Rome. Painted around 1427, the paintings depict the new Renaissance style, focusing on naturalism in the figures and the depiction of space. (Masolino worked with Masaccio in the Brancacci chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence.) There are eight frescoes in this cycle, all of which depict scenes from the life of St. Catherine, a wealthy Christian woman from Alexandria, Egypt. Famous for her erudition, Catherine challenged the pagan emperor regarding the worship of idols. Angry about this confrontation, the emperor proceeded to force Catherine to listen to the arguments of fifty philosophers, who were charged with making Catherine believe her Christian religion was in fact false. But this did not happen. Instead, Catherine ended up converting all fifty philosophers to Christianity. Incensed by this outcome, the pagan emperor then ordered Catherine’s execution by two spiked wheels, but an angel intervened on the woman’s behalf, breaking these wheels in the process of saving her (the spiked wheel is her attribute). The emperor then beheaded her. Beginning in the ninth century onward, St. Catherine had a large cult following and she became the patron saint of philosophers. Before entering the chapel, a scene of annunciation is visible on the exterior arch. The angel Gabriel, on the left, has arrived to announce to the Virgin Mary that she will be the son of Christ, the messiah. The scene is
The Forum Boarium
filled with architectural details, including arches, columns, a loggia, and decorated ceiling, all of which utilizes linear perspective to give an accurate recession of space. A roundel containing God the Father is at the center of the arch, between Gabriel and the Virgin. On the lower left of the arch is St. Christopher with Christ on his shoulder. On the quadripartite ribbed groined vault of the chapel, each of the four evangelists are paired with one of the four fathers of the church. On the right side, there are also four scenes from the life of St. Ambrose. Finally, over the altar is the crucifixion.
Figure 5.13: St. Catherine trying to convert the philosophers. Source: Public Domain.
On the left side of the chapel are the eight scenes from St. Catherine’s life and include: the saint refusing to worship idols; St. Catherine trying to convert the philosophers (Figure 5.13); the miracle of the wheel; among a few others. Like the Annunciation on the arch, each scene shows the new Renaissance style with three-dimensional figures created through modelling of light and dark, shadows cast, and a believable space created through linear perspective.
Sources Augenti, Andrea. Rome: Art and Archaeology. Florence: Scala, 2007. Carandini, Andrea. The Atlas of Ancient Rome: Biography and Portraits of the City. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017. Coarelli, Filippo. Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide. Translated by James J. Clauss and Daniel P. Harmon. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. Grimal, Pierre. Churches of Rome. Paris: Vendome Press, 1997. Kleiner, Diana E.E. Roman Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Male, Emile. The Early Christian Churches of Rome. London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1960. Marvin, M. “Freestanding Sculptures from the Baths of Caracalla” American Journal of Archaeology 87 (1983): 347-84. Nash, Ernest. Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome. New York City: Hacker Art Books, 1981. Ramage, Nancy H. and Andrew Ramage. Roman Art and Architecture. Fifth Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. Richardson, Frank. A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. Roettgen, Steffi. Italian Frescoes: The Early Renaissance 1400-1470. Translated by Russell Stockman. New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 1996. Strong, Donald. Roman Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976. Thunø, Erik. The Apse Mosaic in Early Medieval Rome. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Ward-Perkins, J.B. Roman Imperial Architecture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981. Webb, Matilda. The Churches and Catacombs of Early Christian Rome: A Comprehensive Guide. Sussex: Sussex Academic Press, 2001.
CHAPTER SIX EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCHES AND THE TOMB OF POPE JULIUS II
Introduction This chapter first focuses on the three most important Early Christian churches in Rome: Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Prassede, and Santa Pudenziana. Each of these three churches, which are near one another, utilize the standard Christian basilica plan and were pilgrimage churches in medieval Rome. Early Christian churches in Rome, like these three, were sumptuously decorated with mosaics on their nave walls, the triumphal arch, and the apse. In addition, because of its proximity to these Early Christian churches, a High Renaissance masterpiece is also discussed: Michelangelo’s Tomb of Julius II in San Pietro in Vincoli, which is located just down the hill from Santa Maria Maggiore. Originally intended to decorate New St. Peter’s, Michelangelo referred to this tomb project as the “Tragedy of the Tomb” as it took him most of his adult life to complete it.
The Christian Basilica The origins of the Roman basilica extend back to ancient times. For example, the Forum Romanum had multiple basilicas: Aemelia, Julia, and Constantine. These were all huge structures; each had a large interior that was used for commercial, legal, and other various civic purposes. The Christian basilica is derived from this ancient Roman model. Like its pagan counterpart, a Christian basilica is a large structure with a high ceiling and immense interior space. However, the function of a Christian basilica is distinctly different from a pagan one: the former is used for religion while the latter was only served pagan, or non-religious, purposes. The first Christian basilica was built in the early fourth century CE during the reign of Emperor Constantine, who is often regarded as the first Christian emperor (though he did not officially get baptized until he was
on his deathbed). Regardless of the date of his baptism, Constantine was a great promoter of the Christian faith and through his efforts, the religion flourished throughout the Roman Empire. In an instrumental move, Constantine promoted tolerance of all religions, including Christianity, with the Edict of Milan of 313 CE. Thus, Constantine ended the persecution of Christians by legalizing this religion. Consequently, Christians could worship publicly and consequently there was a need for Christian churches. Constantine and his advisors had to decide what model to use for the new Christian church. Should the church be modeled after a Roman temple like those in the Roman Forum? Constantine decided that a pagan model was not appropriate for a couple of reasons. First, the Roman temple has a deep connection to pagan religion, something that Christianity wanted to distance itself from. Second, most Roman temples were not very large since they were not used for congregational worship. As a result, pagan temples were not a viable option to be the model of a new Christian church. Christian churches were used for congregational worship and needed to be large enough to accommodate all the worshippers. The plan of the Christian basilica was relatively simple and consisted of a longitudinal axis. When you walk into a basilica, you first enter an atrium, a large colonnaded courtyard. Ahead, the narthex separates the atrium from the nave and serves as the porch. On the inside, the nave is the central aisle where the worshippers gathered. Flanking the nave are either one to two side aisles, which are separated from the nave and each other with columns or piers. Further down the nave is the transept, or crossing arm. At the end of the nave and beyond the transept is the apse, a semicircular domed area. In many instances, the apse holds magnificent mosaics or some other impressive artwork. Most Early Christian basilicas have a high, flat coffered ceiling. At the top of the nave wall, and just below the ceiling, are clerestory windows, which provide the main source of light in the basilica.
Old St. Peter's Chapter 9 examines new St. Peter’s. This new church replaced the most important church of Early Christian Rome: Old St. Peter’s (Figure 6.1). But by the sixteenth century, Old St. Peter’s was crumbling and in a state of disrepair. Pope Julius II, one of the greatest patrons of the Italian Renaissance, demolished the old church and built a new one, which was to be more grandiose and a symbol for the supremacy of the papacy (and
Early Christian Churches and the Tomb of Pope Julius II
himself). While Old St. Peter’s no longer exists, it is still important to discuss the church because this was the most important church in Early Christian Rome and it would set the stage for the large pilgrimage churches that will be built throughout the city in the Middle Ages.
Figure 6.1: Drawing of Old St. Peter's. Source: Public Domain.
The Emperor Constantine built Old St. Peter’s at the beginning of the fourth century CE. After legalizing Christianity with the Edict of Milan of 313 CE, Christians could worship publicly and no longer had to hide their religion. This meant that structures had to be built to house these worshippers. The location of Old St. Peter’s was also important. On the western side of the Tiber River, Old St. Peter’s was separated from the major monuments of pagan Rome, like the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon. This effectively created a division between pagan Rome and the new Christian city. In addition, the location was important because the church was placed over the tomb of St. Peter, who was one of Christ’s apostles and the first pope of Rome. Not only that, but Old St. Peter’s was partially built atop the Circus of Nero, which was the spot of St. Peter’s martyrdom; he was crucified upside down. Thus Old St. Peter’s became the most important church in Christendom and a site of pilgrimage.
Figure 6.2: Plan of Old St. Peter's. Source: Public Domain.
Old St. Peter’s was cruciform in plan (Figure 6.2), with a long nave and two side aisles. Appropriated ancient columns were used to demarcate those side aisles, and were a symbol of Christianity’s conquest over paganism. A trussed, wooden ceiling covered the nave and a row of clerestory windows punctuated the walls. The transept crossed the nave and an apse was at the far end. It is estimated that Old St. Peter’s was an immense church with a wide nave of about 92 meters long, which terminated at the west with an apse. Clerestory windows were at the top, allowing light to flow down to the nave. The ceiling, like most Early Christian churches in Rome, was flat and made of wood. In the front of the church was a large atrium attached to a narthex, or porch.
Early Christian Churches and the Tomb of Pope Julius II
Santa Pudenziana The three most important medieval churches in Rome are Santa Pudenziana, Santa Maria Maggiore, and Santa Prassede. All three are within close to one another and they will be examined in chronological order. While the architecture will be commented upon, the examination of these churches will mostly focus on the mosaics that decorate the triumphal arch and apse area. Early Christian mosaics are rich in symbolism. Much of this iconography derives from pagan Rome, though the objects’ meanings within the church have been translated into something now Christian. Santa Pudenziana was the sister of Saint Prassede (her church will be discussed at the end of this chapter). Pudenziana and Prassede were the daughters of a Roman general named Pudens; St. Peter allegedly stayed in Pudens’ house during his stay in Rome. For his generosity, Pudens was executed. His two daughters were also subsequently martyred for their Christian beliefs. Santa Pudenziana is one of the oldest churches still in existence in Rome (Old St. Peter’s was older, of course, but it was later torn down). Dating to about 390 CE, the church was built over a site of Roman baths from the second century CE. Over the next millennium, the church of Santa Pudenziana was rebuilt and restored several times. The church got another extensive facelift in the nineteenth century when the façade was rebuilt. Upon entering Santa Pudenziana, the most striking feature is the apse mosaic at the end of the nave (Figure 6.3). It is here that one can witness the ways in which the artists of the Early Christian period adopted many pagan Roman iconography and conformed the symbols into new Christian meanings. The apse mosaic also represents an important change in the depiction of Christ, as he is no longer a teacher but instead he is depicted as a god. In earlier fresco paintings of the Christian catacombs, Christ was routinely depicted as a teacher, usually seated and teaching from a scroll. But now that the religion is legal and flourishing, Christ is shown as imperial and divine. In the apse mosaic, Christ is in the enter, reigning supreme amongst the apostles who flank him on either side. Christ is seated on an elaborate jewel-encrusted gold throne that has plush, red cushions. He wears a golden tunic with trim of purple – both these colors are allusions to his royal and imperial status. Christ has shoulder length brown hair and a long beard; a bright gold halo hovers behind his head. His right arm is outstretched in a gesture any scholar of Roman imperial art knows well:
the ad locutio, which means that he is in the process of oration, addressing the figures on either side of him. In his left hand is a book, emphasizing his role as an orator. The inscription declares “Dominus Conservator Ecclesiae Pudentiane,” or “The Lord is the Preserver of the Church of Pudens.” In short, Christ’s depiction in this mosaic is the beginning of a new kind of iconography. He is depicted like a Roman emperor and even resembles the Roman god Jupiter, with his long hair and beard. Christ is no longer just a teacher, now he is the king of heaven.
Figure 6.3: Apse Mosaic in Santa Pudenziana. Source: Public Domain.
Behind Christ, there is much more iconography. First, on the lower level one can see a wall and gold roof of the building that Christ and his disciples are in. Beyond that wall, one catches a glimpse of a city that has Roman-inspired buildings, like a circular temple and others that have pediments. This is a representation of the city of Jerusalem. Directly above Christ’s head is a mound, which is a depiction of Golgotha, the hill where Christ was crucified. This is further emphasized by the large golden cross resting on top of this hill. Finally, within the sky are three winged animals and a winged man. These are the symbols of the Four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Early Christian Churches and the Tomb of Pope Julius II
Flanking Christ are the apostles and two standing female figures. The disciples are dressed like Roman senators in their white togas. They all react to the oration of Christ and his role as king of heaven. Their arms are outstretched, moved by Christ’s teachings. Some turn to each other, as if in conversation about what Christ just said. Today’s mosaic only contains nine of the apostles; originally there would have been twelve. But during a sixteenth century restoration, three of the disciples at the very edges were removed. On each side is a single, standing woman. Each places a crown on one of the apostles’ heads: St. Peter and St. Paul. These two women are usually identified as representing personifications of the Jews and the pagans (or Gentiles) and are passing the baton to the new religion, Christianity. Even these women have a connection to ancient Rome, in that female figures with crowns are a common trope in architecture, especially the Victory figures with crowns in the spandrels of triumphal arches like those of Titus, Sepimius Severus, and Constantine. Here, though, the women are crowning the Christian victors.
Santa Maria Maggiore Outside the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, or St. Mary Major, there is an Egyptian obelisk in the piazza. In the Renaissance and Baroque periods, these obelisks were taken from ancient Roman sites, moved, and erected in new spots. Often, the obelisks were topped with iconographic objects like doves or crosses, symbolizing Christianity or a sometimes a papal family. These obelisks, including the one outside of Santa Maria Maggiore, became symbols of the Christian triumph over paganism. (In ancient Roman times, these obelisks were a similar symbol of victory of the Romans over the Egyptians.) Santa Maria Maggiore dates to the fifth century CE (432-40) and was built during the papacy of Sixtus III. When it was completed it was the largest church in Rome. The church, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was constructed after the Council of Ephesus in 431 CE, which declared that Mary be given the honorific title of theotokos, or mother of god, honoring her important role.
Figure 6.4: Interior of Santa Maria Maggiore. Source: Livioandronico2013, 2015.
Santa Maria Maggiore adheres to the traditional basilical plan (Figure 6.4). Like Old St. Peter’s, it has a nave, side aisles, an apse, and a clerestory, with a flat roof. The nave runs down the center of the church, 92 meters long and 30 meters wide. Ionic columns on either side of the nave demarcate the side aisles; there is a single side aisle on either side. Above the colonnade is a gallery and a clerestory. A semi-circular apse is at the end of the church and there are several chapels along the sides. The large size of Santa Maria Maggiore is appropriate because it was a pilgrimage church. In the Middle Ages, Christian pilgrims would travel to Rome to see this church, along with many others, and they would view the relics and art housed within them. In the case of Santa Maria Maggiore, it contains a relic of the crib of Christ in the crypt below. Mosaics cover several zones in the interior of the church: the gallery, the apse, and the triumphal arch. The Early Christian mosaicists were not the first to invent this technique of cementing bits of glass (tessera/ae) to a base like a floor or a wall. In fact, the earliest mosaics date back to civilizations of the ancient Near East. Following the Sumerians, the Greeks and the Romans used mosaics to decorate floors and walls. When Christianity was legalized, the mosaic technique was adopted from pagan Rome to decorate churches. The Early Christians, like the Romans, used
Early Christian Churches and the Tomb of Pope Julius II
tesserae made of glass. These little bits of glass could be any color of the rainbow. For gold tesserae, an actual thin piece of gold foil was placed between two clear tesserae. Many Early Christian mosaics utilized these gold tesserae for haloes and the background. Standing in the nave of Santa Maria Maggiore allows the best view of the mosaics of the gallery directly below the clerestory windows. However, the mosaics are difficult to see because they are crowded with many small figures. The reason for this probably was a result of how the mosaics were made. Most likely, the mosaics were made in the workshop and then transported to the church where they were affixed to the wall. In the workshop, the mosaicists did not account for the fact that the works would be seen from a distance. The panels along with nave gallery depict scenes from the Old Testament. The nave mosaics of Santa Maria Maggiore contain stories from the Books of Genesis, Exodus, and Joshua. Facing the apse, on the left are stories of Abraham and Isaac while on the right are scenes of Moses. Originally there were 42 mosaics but only 27 are extant today. Old Testament scenes were a popular subject in Early Christian churches and catacombs because these stories foreshadowed the coming of a messiah, i.e. Christ. In addition, the Christian church thought that the Jewish Old Testament was a revelation. This incorporation of Old Testament scenes was still common in the Renaissance; in Michelangelo’s frescoes on the Sistine ceiling, he shows scenes from Genesis along with David and Goliath, Judith and Holofernes, among many other Old Testament references. On the left side, one panel depicts the separation of Abraham and Lot (Figure 6.5), which occurred in Genesis 13. In this story, there is a fight amongst the shepherds: Abraham and his nephew Lot no longer wanted to be on the same land. But the argument ends peacefully, as Abraham lets Lot pick two of the best locations. In the mosaic, Abrahams is on the left while Lot turns to the right, toward his new land. Both are depicted with their children (though according to the Bible, the children had not yet been born), who will grow up in these different parts, thus emphasizing the separation between these two family members. The figures are defined by bold, black outlines and have a little sense of volume and mass, giving the panel a semi-naturalistic style. But there are other areas that are much more abstract, especially the proportions of the figures to the architecture. Both groups of figures are large, occupying almost the entire height of the panel. Behind each group are architectural details, including homes, a town, and even what appears to be a triumphal
arch. The house on the left, with its pediment and gable roof, is shorter than the figures. The roof tilts upward as well.
Figure 6.5: Abraham and Lot, Santa Maria Maggiore. Source: Public Domain.
This scene of Abraham and Lot is unusual, though, because most of the nave mosaics have compositions that are divided into registers. For example, on the right is one of the more crowded scenes: Moses parts the Red Sea with the drowning of the Pharaoh’s army. On the bottom left, we see Moses with his staff, parting the Red Sea, which flows above him. The pharaoh’s army is on the right, a mass of figures decked out in their armor, emerging from a gateway. Both groups, Moses and the army, are shown from a frontal perspective. The Red Sea that flows between them, however, is seen from above, with fish swimming and members of the army drowning. Moving to the end of the long nave, one reaches the apse that is framed by a large triumphal arch; both are covered with mosaics (Figure 6.6). Both mosaics date to the fifth century CE, at the time that Santa Maria Maggiore was built. However, the mosaics of the triumphal arch and apse must have been completed by a different team of mosaicists because each has its own style and mood.
Early Christian Churches and the Tomb of Pope Julius II
The triumphal arch mosaics depict stories of the New Testament, specifically those that highlight the Virgin Mary’s role as the mother of Christ, which is germane since this church is dedicated to her role as theotokos. The style of these mosaics is different from those in the nave. In the triumphal arch, the figures are more static and there is less movement and interaction between them. Many of the figures are stiff and rigid, shown frontally. In the nave, figures reacted with one another and there were a variety of poses and gestures. In the very center of the triumphal arch mosaic is a roundel with a cross with a throne and a crown, symbolizing Mary’s role as the queen of heaven, though the throne can also refer to Christ’s last supper. Beneath the roundel there is an inscription in Latin that translates as “Sixtus Bishop of the People of God,” honoring the pope who was the patron of Santa Maria Maggiore. Flanking the roundel are two saints, Peter and Paul, who are accompanied by the symbols of the four evangelists, Matthew (winged man), Mark (winged lion), Luke (winged ox), and John (eagle). All four hover in the air above Peter and Paul. On either side of this central scene, and running down the triumphal arch, are a series of four registers that highlight stories from the infancy of Christ, again emphasizing the Virgin’s role as the mother of God. These scenes of Christ’s infancy are taken directly from the Gospels of the New Testament. In these mosaics, Mary is no longer shown as a normal woman or normal mother. Instead, she is regal and has been transformed into a queen. She sits on a throne, she wears a jeweled diadem, she is covered in more jewelry, and she wears clothes befitting a queen. This new depiction is important to note because in the art of the Middle Ages, Mary will start to be shown as the queen of heaven much more frequently. The apse just beyond the triumphal arch is also decorated with a mosaic, though this is not the original fifth century CE mosaic, but one from the thirteenth century when Pope Nicholas IV commissioned Jacopo Torriti to create a new mosaic. But the subject of the original mosaic was probably the same as Torriti's: the coronation of the Virgin, who has now assumed her role as queen of heaven. The coronation, or crowning, of the Virgin Mary, though not written about within the Bible, became a popular subject in Christian art of the Middle Ages.
Figure 6.6: Apse Mosaic, Santa Pudenziana. Source: Public Domain.
In the apse mosaic, the Virgin Mary is in a roundel that is directly in the center of the composition. Like the triumphal apse mosaics, the Virgin is depicted as queen. She is enthroned, crowned, and regal. Sitting beside her on the throne to the right is Christ. He is seated and reaches out his right hand to crown his mother with the jeweled diadem. In his left hand, he holds a book that is open to a page from the Song of Songs and states: “Come my chosen one, I will place you upon my throne.” Both figures wear haloes to emphasize their holiness. Behind them is a deep blue sky punctuated with golden stars, sun, and moon symbolizing the universe. Hovering above the roundel is the ubiquitous umbrella-like tent. This iconographic motif will be evident in many of the Early Christian churches of Rome and is a symbol of heaven. On either side of the roundel are swirls of acanthus vines. These acanthus leaves are what decorate the top of Corinthian capitals and were a popular motif in ancient Roman art. In the Early Christian period, artists adopted many of these pagan motifs and transformed them into their own Christian symbols. For example, Mary depicted as a queen was probably derived from the iconography of Roman empresses, with their crowns and thrones. Likewise, acanthus vines were ubiquitous throughout ancient Roman art, from Corinthian capitals to the intertwining plants in the relief sculptures of the Ara Pacis Augustae. In these cases, acanthus vines
Early Christian Churches and the Tomb of Pope Julius II
communicated abundance and fertility. In their new Christian context, acanthus vines symbolize the everlasting life of the church. At the bottom of the apse mosaic, on either side of the roundel with Christ and the Virgin Mary, are kneeling, winged angels. With colorful wings and golden haloes, these groups of angels look up toward Christ and the Virgin. The angels are depicted on a much smaller scale than Mary and her son, thus this is an example of hieratic or hierarchy of scale, an artistic convention that is used to show the importance of the figure (the largest figure is the most important). Moving outward from the kneeling angels, there are additional figures on both the right and left sides. These are saints along with the donors who helped to finance the building of Santa Maria Maggiore. Starting on the left, a kneeling figure in a red garment stands out: this is Pope Nicholas IV wearing his papal vestments and crown; he was one of the donors. Standing behind the pope are three standing saints. From right to left, these are Saints Peter, Paul and Francis of Assisi. On the other side, the donor is Cardinal Colonna, who like Nicholas IV, gave money to build the church. Behind the cardinal are Saints John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, and Anthony of Padua. Like the winged angels toward the center, these groups of figures are also an example of hieratic scale. The donors are smaller than the more important saints behind them. Below the feet of the saints and donors, there is a river flowing. Ducks swim in this water and there are small vignettes of within the waves of the stream. Deer even drink from it. This river is a popular motif that will be witnessed in other Early Christian church mosaics and it symbolizes the River of Paradise. In addition, the river also can be read as a reference to the Christian baptism. Within the small vignettes, one can witness additional examples of pagan iconography. For example, one small scene shows a reclining, half-nude, river god, who bears a striking resemblance to ancient sculptures like the ones seen on the Capitoline Hill.
Santa Prassede Not far from Santa Maria Maggiore is Santa Prassede, an unassuming church that is well worth a visit. Built in the ninth century CE during the pontificate of Pascal I, a few centuries after Santa Maria Maggiore, the church is dedicated to Prassede, who was the sister of Santa Pudenziana. There was an earlier church dedicated to Prassede on this site dating to the fifth century, but by the ninth century, it was in such decay that Pascal I had a new one built.
The plan of Santa Prassede is simple and shares similarities to the earlier Old St. Peter’s. Santa Prassede is shaped like a box with a nave and two side aisles on either end. Chapels jut out from the walls of the side aisles and at the very end of the nave is an apse. Santa Prassede is filled with artworks, from paintings to sculpture. There are ninth century frescoes in the campanile; these originally decorated the transept. There is a tomb that was sculpted by a seventeen-year old Bernini. There are also numerous mosaics in Santa Prassede, from the triumphal arch and apse to those with scenes from the life of Santa Prassede in the Chapel of San Zeno. All the mosaics date to the ninth century CE. Christ is at the very center of the exterior portion of the triumphal arch mosaic. He is dressed in a gold tunic and he holds a scroll in his left hand while his right hand is outstretched and he shows two fingers, a symbol of blessing. Two angels hover beside Christ. Moving further to the left and right, there are several figures: these are the apostles and important saints. Closer to Christ, on either side, are St. John the Baptist, the Virgin Mary, Santa Prassede, and St. Paul. Then, on either side, there are six apostles. Finally, standing at the very right and left are two Old Testament prophets: Moses and Elias. Remember, it was common in Christian art to include Old Testament figures because prophets had foretold the coming of a messiah. All these figures are within their own enclosure and standing outside it on either end are two angels. Finally, at the edges of this portion of the triumphal arch, there are two masses of indistinguishable figures: these are the elect, waiting to get in. The interior triumphal arch mosaics follow a similar compositional format as the one at Santa Maria Maggiore (Figure 6.7). First, directly in the center of the triumphal arch is a roundel. In this case, however, the roundel contains a lamb on an altar with a cross behind it. Flanking the roundel are seven candlesticks, three on the left and four on the right. Moving further away, there are two winged saints hovering in the golden sky on either side and then two of the symbols of the four Evangelists. Below all of this, on either side of the triumphal arch, are the twenty-four church Elders, described in the Book of Revelation. In the apse of Santa Prassede is a mosaic of the Second Coming of Christ, a popular scene during the Middle Ages. Christ stands in the center and wears a tunic and halo. His right palm is directed toward the viewer and his left hand holds a scroll. Above the figure of Christ is the hand of God, which is crowning Christ. The background of the entire mosaic is a deep blue.
Early Christian Churches and the Tomb of Pope Julius II
Figure 6.7: Apse mosaic, Santa Prassede. Source: Welleschik, 20009.
Christ is flanked by three figures on either side. On the left are Saints Peter, Pudenziana, and St. Zeno. Peter has his arm around Pudenziana, who is the sister of Prassede, and the apostle presents the woman to Christ. On the right side are Saints Paul, Prassede, and Paschal I. Paul, just like Peter, has his arm around Prassede and offers her to Christ in the same manner. Paschal I, who was the patron of this church, has a different type of halo: it is a square, blue nimbus, a motif that indicates that the person was still alive when that work was made. Thus, Paschal I was not deceased yet when this mosaic was finished. Finally, at either edge of the apse mosaic is a palm tree, which are symbolic of Paradise in Christian art. There is also a phoenix bird on the branch of the palm tree on the left; this is a clear reference to Christ’s resurrection.
The Tomb of Pope Julius II Santa Pudenziana, Santa Maria Maggiore, and Santa Prassede are the three most important medieval churches in Rome. About a ten-minute walk from Santa Prassede is San Pietro in Vincoli, a fifth century CE church that held an important relic of St. Peter: the chains used to imprison him.
San Pietro in Vincoli is now most famous for the Tomb of Julius II, which is housed inside and was designed by Michelangelo. By the beginning of the sixteenth century, Michelangelo was a famous artist and Pope Julius II (whose pontificate lasted from 1503-13) wanted the young artist to design his tomb. In 1505, Michelangelo, who was been working in Florence (probably on the Battle of Cascina for the Palazzo Vecchio), arrived in Rome excited for the project. The plan of the tomb originally required forty sculpted figures and would be a massive undertaking. Michelangelo left for Carrara, a town north of Rome famous for its quarries, to select the pieces of marble for his sculptures. He was there for eight months, searching for the perfect stones, for Michelangelo believed that his figures were already inherently within these rocks and his job was merely revealing them. The original tomb project of 1505 (Figure 6.8) was immense and grandiose. Freestanding, the tomb would stand over 10 meters tall and over 7 meters long. There would be a small chapel inside. The outside consisted of three levels, all of which would have been decorated with forty sculptures. On the lowest level, there would be sculptures of captive slaves and victories. About 4 meters up, Moses would be the highlight of the second floor, along with St. Paul and allegories of the contemplative and active life. No one knows for sure what the top level held, but most likely it contained a sculpture of Julius II or his funerary bier. After searching Carrara for marble, Michelangelo finally returned to Rome in 1506 to begin work on the tomb, but the sculptor found Pope Julius II distracted. The pope’s attention had shifted to Bramante and the building of New St. Peter’s, which had begun in earnest in 1506. Like the Medici in Florence, Pope Julius II utilized artistic commissions for political and propagandistic purposes. The new basilica was to be a symbol of the supremacy of the papacy and his power as a pope. Pope Julius II ultimately wanted his tomb to be within St. Peter’s, either directly under the dome or in one of the apses. The massive marble tomb would aggrandize the pope and communicate to all his dominance and importance. Michelangelo did not like being ignored by the pope and so the sculptor returned to Florence in a huff. In 1508, the pope called Michelangelo back to Rome. Michelangelo believed that he would resume work on the monumental tomb project, but the pope had different plans. Once again, Michelangelo found that Julius II’s attention had shifted and instead of picking up on where he left off with the tomb, the artist was instead coerced into painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo did not want to paint the ceiling, but under mounting
Early Christian Churches and the Tomb of Pope Julius II
pressure from the pope, and the desire to get back to the tomb project, Michelangelo eventually agreed. From 1508-1512, Michelangelo begrudgingly painted the Sistine Ceiling. He wrote sonnets lamenting his sore neck and he even painted an unflattering portrait of Julius II within the ceiling.
Figure 6.8: Reconstruction of original tomb project, 1505. Source: sailko, 2010.
In 1513, Pope Julius II died. By this time, Michelangelo had only started work on three of the forty proposed sculptures: Moses and two slaves. All three were still unfinished. Julius II’s tomb was nowhere near completion and the pope’s family worked with Michelangelo on several contracts so that the tomb would be finished. But this was not a quick process. Instead, the creation of the tomb lasted most of Michelangelo’s adult life. He began in 1505, at the age of thirty, and finally finished the tomb in 1545, when he was seventy. The plan of the tomb was constantly being revised. Michelangelo, who was not one to hold back, complained about the tomb project, saying “I find I have lost my entire youth tied to this tomb.” He also referred to this project as the “tragedy of the tomb.”
In 1513, after the pope’s death, the first significant changes to the initial plan were made by the pope’s family. Most notably, the tomb was now no longer freestanding but would be placed against a wall (Figure 6.9). In addition, the tomb would not have a small chapel inside. The tomb would now only consist of two levels. The lower level still had captive slaves on it. The top story had Moses along with some other figures. Instead of an effigy or bier of Julius II on the top, this new plan contained a Virgin and Child. During the duration of this contract, Michelangelo continued working on the three sculptures that he had already started back in 1505: two of the captive slaves for the bottom level and the sculpture of Moses.
Figure 6.9: Reconstruction of the 1513 plan. Source: sailko, 2010.
The two slaves carved during this period are now in the Louvre in Paris: the Dying Slave and the Rebellious Slave. Giorgio Vasari, the famous art historian of the Renaissance and the biographer of the artists, wrote that the sculptures of slaves were allusions to the provinces that had been captured by Pope Julius II. The Dying Slave seems erotic in his pose. Standing contrapposto and almost completely nude, except for a shirt that is being pulled up over his chest, the Dying Slave has his head thrown
Early Christian Churches and the Tomb of Pope Julius II
back with a look of ecstasy on his face. His left arm is over his head while his right arm touches his chest. The Rebellious Slave is less erotic and has one foot standing on a block of stone. A loin cloth covers him and his arms are bound behind him, his head turning drastically to the left, an almost pleading look on his face. Both these sculptures would have been placed on the lowest level of the original plan of the Tomb of Julius II, possibly on the corners of the tomb. But when the plan for the tomb was modified several more times, there was no longer any space for these two sculptures in the final version that is now in San Pietro in Vincoli.
Figure 6.10: Reconstruction of the 1516 plan. Source: sailko, 2010.
Only three years later, in 1516, Michelangelo entered yet another contract with the pope’s family for the Tomb of Julius II, which shrunk the project even further (Figure 6.10). The forty sculptures that Michelangelo had planned for the original tomb were now cut back to only twenty-two. At this time, Michelangelo began working on additional sculptures of one victory and four slaves; these slaves are now referred to as prisoners. All four sculptures were never completed; they are in the Accademia in Florence, in a long corridor leading to the rotunda where Michelangelo’s famous David is on display. The uncompleted sculptures give one a glimpse into Michelangelo’s technique and process. When studying any of these four sculptures, one can see the figure emerging from the stone,
much as Michelangelo once himself described that his job was merely to reveal the figure beneath the stone. The penultimate contract for the Tomb of Julius II dates to 1532 (Figure 6.11) and had an especially important stipulation in it: the tomb was to change locations entirely. Instead of the pope’s intended location in the grand, ostentatious St. Peter’s, the tomb would now be housed in San Pietro in Vincoli, which held a special meaning for Julius II, since the pope had been the cardinal of this church for over thirty years. Not much else was completed at the time of this contract except for the decision to move the tomb. Michelangelo completed no additional work on the sculptures of the tomb because he was busy with other commissions.
Figure 6.11: Reconstruction of 1532 plan. Source: sailko, 2010.
Ten years later, in 1542, Michelangelo entered the final contract for the Tomb of Julius II. At this time, Michelangelo only had to create an additional three sculptures for the tomb: he needed to complete Moses, which he had already started, and also the sculptures of Rachel and Leah, who would flank the Old Testament figure.
Early Christian Churches and the Tomb of Pope Julius II
Figure 6.12: Moses, Tomb of Julius II. Source: Jörg Bittner Unna, 2011.
In the final tomb project in San Pietro in Vincoli, Moses is on the first level and directly in the center (Figure 6.12). Because Michelangelo originally intended Moses to placed higher, the proportions of the figure are a little skewed at the ground level. For example, Moses’ head is much too attenuated for its current position. Moses is a massive, strong figure. An older man with a long flowing beard, Moses has small horns emerging
from his head. This is a standard iconographic feature of Moses in artistic representations and it is derived from a mistranslation of the Bible, which had described Moses as having rays of light emerging from his head – but rays were translated as horns. As such, Moses is frequently depicted with these horns. In his right arm, Moses cradles the tablets of the law and his left arm stretches across his abdomen. His head turns to our right and Moses looks off into the distance, perhaps contemplating his next move. The massive figure of Moses is similar to the bulky figures of the prophets and sibyls in the Sistine ceiling, even mimicking some of the poses in those frescoes. One might ask why Pope Julius II would want to have Moses, an Old Testament figure, be the most prominent figure in his tomb project. In the Bible, Moses is a very important figure and he compels the Hebrews to leave slavery and Egypt behind for the Promised Land. Because of this, Moses is regarded as a hero and someone, who through thought and action, enacted change. These qualities are ones that Pope Julius II was striving for and wanted to be remembered for. Through thought and action, Julius II ultimately wanted to remove the shackles of foreign powers and liberate Italy. Flanking Moses are two additional Old Testament figures: Rachel and Leah, who are both wives of Jacob. According to George L. Hersey, these two sculptures are Michelangelo’s least successful and are completely uninspired; Hersey calls them “stiff and cold.” But the two sculptures do have iconographic meaning that reinforces the theme of Pope Julius II’s tomb, so they deserve a little more discussion. To the left of Julius II is Rachel, who is dressed as a nun. Standing in contrapposto pose with her hands clasped together and a veil pulled over her head, Rachel is a symbol of the contemplative life. On the right is Leah, who holds a diadem in her left hand and a garland in her right; she is a symbol of action. In fact, Rachel and Leah are traditionally symbols of the contemplative and active life respectively and thus they are the natural complements to Moses and Julius II.
Sources Augenti, Andrea. Rome: Art and Archaeology. Florence: Scala, 2007. Frommel, Christoph Luitpold. Michelangelo’s Tomb for Julius II: Genesis and Genius. California: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016. Grimal, Pierre. Churches of Rome. Paris: Vendome Press, 1997. Hersey, George L. High Renaissance Art in St. Peter’s and the Vatican. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993.
Early Christian Churches and the Tomb of Pope Julius II
Hibbard, Howard. Michelangelo. New York City: Harper and Row, 1985 Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Male, Emile. The Early Christian Churches of Rome. London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1960. Thunø, Erik. The Apse Mosaic in Early Medieval Rome. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Vasari, Giorgio. The Lives of the Artists. Translated by Julia Conway Bondanella and Peter Bondanella. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. Webb, Matilda. The Churches and Catacombs of Early Christian Rome: A Comprehensive Guide. Sussex: Sussex Academic Press, 2001.
CHAPTER SEVEN PIAZZA NAVONA AND ENVIRONS
Introduction This chapter explores the artistic masterpieces in the Piazza Navona area, which is a hodgepodge of different artistic periods. From the eighteenth century Trevi Fountain to Baroque painting and architecture to an ancient Roman column, this chapter only contains a fragment of the numerous works in this area of Rome.
Trevi Fountain The history of the Trevi Fountain (Figure 7.1) begins long before the late Baroque design that visitors see today. In ancient Rome, the site was used to supply water from an aqueduct that channeled water to the city from the Aqua Virgo. In the fifteenth century, Pope Nicholas V had a fountain built on this site and in the eighteenth century, Pope Urban VIII asked Gian Lorenzo Bernini to design a new fountain for this location. But ultimately the project stalled and Bernini was never able to design the Trevi Fountain. The project was abandoned until 1732 when Pope Clement XII sponsored a design competition. Nicola Salvi, an architect, won the competition and his fountain was completed in 1762. The Trevi Fountain sits in front of the façade of the Palazzo Poli. Taking advantage of this classically inspired façade, Nicola Salvi placed the focal point of the Trevi Fountain directly in the center of the façade, which has a barrel-vaulted arch flanked by Corinthian columns topped by an entablature. This central part of the building resembles an ancient Roman triumphal arch. The theme of the Trevi Fountain centers the benefits of having clean and abundant water. Standing beneath the barrel-vaulted arch is Oceanus, the god of the ocean. Holding a scepter, Oceanus reigns supreme as he stands on a seashell. Flanking Oceanus are numerous tritons and sea horses, the god's companions. On the left is a female personification of Abundance and on the left is Salubrity. Above these two female figures
Piazza Navona and Environs
are relief sculptures that refer to the ancient Aqua Virgo: Marcus Agrippa commissioning the building of the aqueduct and a young virgin finding the source of water. In the attic above there are four additional female figures, who have been identified as personifications of the seasons, identified by the various fruits and grains they hold. Atop the attic is the papal coat of arms of Pope Clement XII.
Figure 7.1: Trevi Fountain. Source: Geobia, 2012.
Pantheon Dedicated to all the Roman gods, the Pantheon (Figure 7.2) is the best preserved ancient Roman temple in Rome and it epitomizes Roman architectural characteristics that have been discussed in previous chapters. First, the Pantheon has many Greek architectural influences, beginning with its façade which is dominated by eight colossal Corinthian columns that support a massive entablature and pediment. But the Pantheon has many more distinctively Roman features, including having only one staircase, though today the stereobate is not visible because to the street level has risen throughout the centuries, covering it up.
Figure 7.2: Pantheon. Source: Roberta Dragan, 2006.
While there is no sculptural decoration on the Pantheon, there is a prominent inscription in Latin on the entablature that translates as “Marcus Agrippa, in his third consulship, made this.” Marcus Agrippa was Augustus’ right-hand man. But the Pantheon was constructed in the early second century CE during the reign of the emperor Hadrian. The Pantheon replaced an earlier temple that had been on the site, which had been commissioned by Marcus Agrippa. Therefore, to honor the past, Hadrian included the inscription on the new Pantheon as a connection to the past. Furthermore, this inscription served a propagandistic purpose in that Hadrian connected himself to the golden age of Rome. The plan of the Pantheon (Figure 7.3) also is unique, setting the temple apart from Greek architecture which is traditional either centralized or longitudinal. The Pantheon is not entirely longitudinal – only the porch is rectangular and longitudinal. The Pantheon is a combination of longitudinal and centralized parts. The longitudinal portion consists of the deep porch; it is rectangular. However, upon entering the temple proper, one is in a rotunda, or centralized area. Entering the temple, the visitor is confronted with a huge rotunda topped with a massive dome. The diameter of the centralized plan is almost 44 meters and the height from the ground to the top of the dome is 44 meters, creating a 1:1 ratio. In fact, a sphere could fit into this immense space. The Romans accomplished this engineering feat through the exploitation of the arch and the manipulation of building materials. In the
Piazza Navona and Environs
Pantheon, the Romans utilized the arch and created a massive dome by rotating that arch 360 degrees. To ensure that the dome would not collapse in on itself, the Romans also manipulated the materials, using the heaviest stones in the foundation and then gradually utilizing lighter and lighter materials as they increased in elevation. Specifically, concrete and travertine were used in the foundation and as you ascended the walls of the dome, the Romans use progressively lighter and lighter materials like tufa, brick, and pumice. This ingenuity worked because almost 2,000 years later the temple still stands in all its grandeur.
Figure 7.3: Plan of the Pantheon. Source: Public Domain.
The Romans also did other things to ensure that the dome would not collapse (Figure 7.4). The coffers on the dome are decorative but also reduce the amount of material that is in the dome. Also, at the very top of the dome is an oculus, which is Latin for "eye." This opening in the dome is 8 meters in diameter and serves to lighten the overall weight of the dome. In addition, the oculus is one of the two light sources for the Pantheon, the other one being the front door.
Figure 7.4: Giovanni Panini, The Interior of the Pantheon, 1734. Source: Public Domain.
In the beginning of the seventh century, the Pantheon was converted to the Church of St. Mary of the Martyrs. This conversion meant that the Pantheon, unlike many other pagan buildings in Rome, was maintained throughout the subsequent centuries and today it is the best-preserved ancient temple in the Eternal City. In the Renaissance and Baroque periods, famous people were buried within the Pantheon, including Raphael, the High Renaissance master and painter of the Papal Apartments in the Vatican, and Annibale Carracci, who painted the ceiling of the Farnese Gallery.
Santa Maria sopra Minerva Near the Pantheon is the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, which translates as St. Mary over Minerva. The name of the church refers to the earlier temple, dedicated to the Roman goddess Minerva, that originally stood at this site. In the ninth century, Santa Maria sopra Minerva was built atop these ancient ruins. Construction continued for several centuries and many of the interior chapels were decorated with paintings and sculptures. The church represents the Gothic style, with its ribbed groin vaults and pointed arches.
Piazza Navona and Environs
Figure 7.5: Michelangelo, Wikipedia:User:Warpflyght, 2006.
Many people, when visiting Rome, are unaware that Santa Maria sopra Minerva houses a Michelangelo sculpture, the Risen Christ (Figure 7.5). Dating to about 1518-1521, the Risen Christ is made of marble and depicts Christ after his crucifixion when was resurrected from the dead. Commissioned by three Romans, including a friend of Michelangelo, the Risen Christ is not considered one of the sculptor’s masterpieces. Michelangelo did not actually finish this sculpture, but delegated that task to one of his students, Piero Urbano. The resulting sculpture was considered inferior to Michelangelo’s greatest works, even at the time of its creation. Michelangelo offered to sculpt it again, but the patrons refused. The marble sculpture depicts a standing, completely nude, Christ. In contrapposto pose, Christ’s left leg bears all the weight. His arms both grab onto a cross that stands next to him and his face turns to the right. Like the Pietà, Michelangelo does not emphasize the wounds of Christ. He is alive and healthy, with no signs of the Passion visible.
In the piazza outside Santa Maria sopra Minerva is another monument worth mentioning, the so-called elephant obelisk. Designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, most likely the elephant was executed by one of his assistants. Commissioned by Pope Alexander VII, the sculpture of the elephant was surmounted by another Egyptian obelisk from ancient Rome.
Piazza Navona During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, the popes were involved with many projects of urban renewal in Rome as they attempted to make the city the most beautiful one in the world. Pope Julius II famously commissioned Bramante at the beginning of the sixteenth century to build a new St. Peter’s Basilica. Subsequent popes followed in a similar route, revamping old piazzas and churches.
Figure 7.6: View of Piazza Navona, Hendrik Frans van Lint, 1730. Source: Public Domain.
In the seventeenth century, Pope Innocent X focused his attention on Piazza Navona (Figure 7.6). This had long been an important site in Rome. During the Roman Empire and specifically the reign of Domitian at the end of the first century CE, Piazza Navona was a stadium for foot races. For centuries, the Stadium of Domitian was used for many things, from these sporting events to marketplaces to various festivals. Pope Innocent X planned to beautify this area and he commissioned the piazza, the church of Sant’ Agnese, and fountains. By doing this, Innocent X wanted to symbolize the power of the papacy but he also wanted to aggrandize his family, the Pamphili. The shape of Piazza Navona echoes the old Stadium of Domitian, and it is a long rectangle with curved apses placed on both the short ends. In
Piazza Navona and Environs
the center of the Piazza Navona is the famous Four Rivers Fountain (Figure 7.7), created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. A huge piece of travertine dominates the composition of the fountain and it has been carved to look like a craggy grotto, with nooks and crannies throughout. Throughout this grotto, there is abundant vegetation and a variety of animals, including snakes, an armadillo, and even a lion.
Figure 7.7: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Four Rivers Fountain. Source: Alvesgaspar, 2015.
At the four corners of the travertine are four reclining river gods: the Danube, Nile, Ganges, and Rio della Plata; all are modeled after Greek and Roman depictions of river gods. They are older men, bare-chested, and look like ancient depictions of the Nile. In addition, the twisting poses and muscularity of the river gods are reminiscent of Michelangelo’s ignudi on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. On the north side of the fountain is the Nile River, who covers his face; this was meant to symbolize that at the time, the source of the Nile was still unknown. Opposite the Nile is the Rio della Plata, which represents the new world. He has gold coins at his side, symbolizing the wealth of resources the new world promises. The Rio della Plata also raises one hand to the dove at the top of the obelisk, symbolizing the church’s efforts to convert in the new world. On the south side is the Danube River, who turns toward the papal court of arms, thus representing the acceptance of the Catholic church in Europe. On the other
side of the Danube is the Ganges River of India, who holds an oar in his hand symbolizing that this is the most easily navigated river in the world. On top of the grotto is an ancient Egyptian obelisk that was taken from Egypt during the Roman Empire and placed in the Circus of Maxentius. In antiquity, this was meant to symbolize the victory over the Egyptians. By the Renaissance and Baroque periods, the many obelisks of ancient Rome were being reappropriated and relocated. In many instances, as is the case here, taking this pagan monument and placing it in a religious setting was meant to symbolize the victory of Christianity over paganism. In addition, Pope Innocent X placed a dove on top of the obelisk. A dove was a symbol of the Pamphili family and thus Innocent X claimed his role in this victory of Christianity. As for the four rivers, the power of the papacy and the Pamphili family will ultimately spread to all four corners of the world: Africa (Nile), the New World (Rio della Plata), Asia (Ganges), and Europe (Danube).
Sant' Ivo alla Sapienza Francesco Borromini was the leading architect of the Roman Baroque. He was a craftsman at St. Peter’s, where he assisted Carlo Maderno by working as a stonemason. Borromini later worked with Gian Lorenzo Bernini and by 1634, Borromini was ready for his first solo commission, San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (see Chapter Ten). In 1642, after Borromini finished San Carlo, he accepted the assignment of designing Sant' Ivo alla Sapienza (Figure 7.8), which is another church near the Pantheon. Pope Urban VII commissioned Borromini to design Sant' Ivo alla Sapienza, which many consider to be the architect’s masterpiece. Borromini was not the first to receive the commission to create this church, but by the time he got on the scene, no previous work had even been done. Sant' Ivo alla Sapienza is easy for the student or traveler to miss, as it is tucked away at the far end of a courtyard piazza. In his design, Borromini created a circular church, which is evident by the concave curving façade of Sant’ Ivo alla Sapienza. The walls of the buildings on the sides of the church are two stories and consist of elegant arcades. The arches are flanked by engaged pilasters; the Doric order is on the lower level and the composite is utilized on the second level. The curving façade of Sant’ Ivo alla Sapienza takes this setting between the two buildings of the piazza into account and Borromini created a church that fits in with its surroundings. The façade of the church is two stories tall, aligning perfectly with the height of the two stories within the piazza.
Piazza Navona and Environs
Figure 7.8: Dome of Sant’ Ivo alla Sapienza. Source: Architas, 2018.
Instead of arcades, though, Sant’ Ivo alla Sapienza has an arched doorway in the center of each story which is flanked by vertically oriented rectangular windows. Engaged pilasters flank these windows. Rising behind this curved façade is a dome topped with a lantern. The dome is made up of six convex bays. The plan of Sant’ Ivo alla Sapienza is unique and symbolic. In the shape of two superimposed equilateral triangles, the resulting plan is a hexagonal star. Scholars have suggested that this shape is a symbol of wisdom (and related to Sant’ Ivo alla Sapienza, as Sapienza translates as wisdom). The star shape also has been compared to a bee, an attribute of the Barberini family; Pope Urban VII, who commissioned this church, was a member of the Barberini family. The interior of this church, because of its hexagonal star shape, is unique in church architecture in Rome. Borromini, ever the Baroque architect, delighted in playing with concave and convex curves, moving the eye forever around the inside of the church. The dome also is dramatic, taking advantage of the curving nature of the church as it mimics the hexagonal shape of the building.
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi San Luigi dei Francesi is famous for its Contarelli Chapel (Figure 7.9), which houses three of Caravaggio's earliest religious paintings. Caravaggio was the preeminent painter of the Roman Baroque and he started his career by painting mythological scenes, still-lifes, and selfportraits. His paintings within the Contarelli Chapel, though, represent his first religious commission and adhere to the strictures of the Catholic Church during the Counter Reformation. In particular, after the Council of Trent, artists were charged with creating art that would draw people back into the fold of the Catholic Church. To do so, art must be realistic, easily understood, and provoke strong emotions. In 1585, the French prelate Mathieu Cointrel commissioned these three paintings (Contarelli is the Italian version of Cointrel), though by the end of the sixteenth century the chapel was still empty of its decorations. Caravaggio was ultimately asked to complete these paintings, which center around St. Matthew and include the following: The Calling of St. Matthew, The Inspiration of St. Matthew, and The Martyrdom of St. Matthew.
Figure 7.9: Contarelli Chapel. Source: Public Domain.
The Contarelli Chapel is in the left corner of the church of San Luigi dei Francesi. On the left side of the wall is the most famous of the three paintings: The Calling of St. Matthew. In this dramatic oil on canvas painting, Caravaggio presents to the viewer the epitome of the Italian
Piazza Navona and Environs
Baroque style. First, Caravaggio centers on the most dramatic part of the story. Christ, accompanied by St. Peter, visits St. Matthew and calls him to be one of his twelve disciples. Caravaggio focuses on the exact moment that Christ calls St. Matthew. Furthermore, this drama is enhanced by chiaroscuro, or the dramatic contrast between light and dark. Caravaggio’s canvases almost seem like stage settings, with spotlights illuminating the key players. In this case, Christ’s face is lit up by this divine, mysterious light. A diagonal streak of light comes in from the top right of the canvas, highlights Christ, and then dramatically leads the viewer to the table, at which St. Matthew sits. The rest of the canvas is plunged into darkness. The setting also makes the scene seem more theatrical as it appears as if it is occurring on stage. The wall of a building is directly behind the characters, pushing all the action into the foreground. On the right are the standing figures of Christ and St. Peter. Christ extends his hand, a finger points, creating an implied line toward St. Matthew (perhaps this finger is influenced by Michelangelo’s fresco of the Creation of Adam). St. Matthew sits at a table with several other figures, though he is the one that is in the middle, spotlighted, and in turn pointing a finger at himself. He has an almost dubious look on his face, as if he doubts the veracity of Christ’s call. On St. Matthew’s left are two money collectors, who are oblivious to what is going on before them and instead are focused on counting their money. To the right of St. Matthew are two other men, both dressed in fine clothes, who look at the scene bemusedly but ultimately are not overly concerned with what is happening. On the opposite wall is The Martyrdom of St. Matthew, which also is highly realistic in style and utilizes the dramatic chiaroscuro for which Caravaggio is famous. In this scene, Caravaggio depicts the execution of St. Matthew, which occurred while he was in Ethiopia trying to spread the word of Christ and the gospel. The king of Ethiopia, Hirtacus, wanted to marry a Christian princess, Iphigenia, but St. Matthew would not allow this. When learning this, the Ethiopian king sent an assassin to kill Matthew while he said mass. The painting, like The Calling of St. Matthew, shows the most dramatic part of the story – the exact moment that Matthew gets stabbed in the church. The saint lays on the ground, one hand raised to the angel on the cloud, trying to grab the palm leaf, which is a symbol of martyrdom. Surrounding this central scene are numerous figures, illuminated by the highlighting of chiaroscuro; the light source is at the top left, which correlates with the actual window within the Contarelli Chapel. As to the other figures, to the left of Matthew is one of his followers. Horrified by the execution, he starts to flee, though his face turns back to
his teacher. Others in the scene look at what is happening to Matthew and react to it in various ways, much like the extra figures in The Calling of St. Matthew. Some are simply bemused, or amused, while others have more emotional reactions. In the very back, to the left of the executioner, one man looks forlornly at the fallen Matthew; this is a self-portrait of Caravaggio himself. The last painting is in the center of the chapel: The Inspiration of St. Matthew. This is the simplest composition of the three, focusing solely on St. Matthew as he sits at his desk, writing his gospel, while an angel hovers above him. The angel is serving as Matthew’s inspiration, telling him exactly what to write. Like the other two paintings, this one also has Caravaggio’s typical use of chiaroscuro, highlighting Matthew and the angel while the rest of the composition is plunged into darkness.
Andrea Pozzo, Ceiling Fresco, Sant' Ignazio Religious orders, such as the Jesuits and the Oratorians, were on the rise in the Baroque period and with their increasing status and numbers, the need quickly arose for the construction of churches and their interior decoration. While the Catholic Church focused on legitimizing their position as the gateway to the kingdom of heaven, in their ecclesiastical decoration the Jesuits frequently celebrated their founding father, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, and his order’s missionary activities, also utilizing art to propagate the power and prestige of the Society of Jesus and to move the seventeenth century viewer. These qualities are evident in the nave ceiling fresco (Figure 7.10) in the Jesuit church of Sant’ Ignazio in Rome. Painted in the late seventeenth century by Andrea Pozzo, himself a Jesuit, the 35 meters long fresco on the barrel vaulted nave depicts the allegory of the missionary work of the Jesuits and the apotheosis of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in an extraordinarily triumphant feat of illusionism. Ultimately, the power of Andrea Pozzo’s perspective was multivalent. Through his use of a precise perspectival system and the creation of a highly convincing illusion, Pozzo conveyed his virtuosity as an artist as well as the power of Saint Ignatius and the Jesuits. But above all, Andrea Pozzo’s illusionistic perspective in the ceiling of Sant’ Ignazio served the greater glory of God. During the Baroque period, the Jesuit order was on the rise. Religious orders were increasingly popular in the seventeenth century and the Society of Jesus was both the largest and most influential of these. Founded in the late sixteenth century by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the order followed the traditional priestly vows of chastity, poverty, and
Piazza Navona and Environs
obedience, but also pledged to conduct ministry anywhere in the word. As such, with its commitment to spreading the Word, the Jesuit order, a coterie of priests and brothers, had both unity and purpose around the globe. With their widespread agenda, the Jesuits became the premier missionary order of the period as they traveled throughout the world, from China to Paraguay, trying to convert people to Christianity. In addition to establishing churches in these faraway countries and civilizations, the Jesuits also set up schools and universities to further their missionary goals.
Figure 7.10: Andrea Pozza, Ceiling Fresco. Source: Livioandronico2013, 2015.
From the very beginning, the Jesuits understood the crucial role that images would play in their mission and they were prolific producers of various forms of imagery, believing in their efficacy and power. While there was no universal Jesuit style, there were nevertheless similarities to be found in their works of art. As to the iconography and content of Jesuit commissions in the seventeenth century, most popular were martyrs and saints, especially those important to the order. Needless to say, Saint Ignatius was the most popular of these saints. In addition, many works of art also contained allegorical figures, perhaps to appropriate Greco-Roman imagery for a new and modern Christian world. Paintings also often contained detailed landscapes and accurate depictions of flora and fauna; many of these plants and animals can be identified as coming from the New World, thus emphasizing and underscoring the order’s extensive missionary activities. Finally, because of the love for text and learning, inscriptions were frequently incorporated into Jesuit works of art. One might assume that Jesuit art was directly and exclusively created for the Jesuits and lay brothers to strengthen their beliefs and bring more
priests into the fold. However, like their missionary work, the art of the Jesuits was directed at a diverse group of people, from the noble and wealthy to the poor, students and prostitutes, and everyone in between. The Jesuits were cognizant of the diversity to which their art spoke, especially in Rome, and they then applied this knowledge to their work all over the globe. In short, through appealing to a varied audience, the Jesuits hoped to attract as many converts as possible. The nave fresco of Sant' Ignazio represents one of the masterpieces of Jesuit Baroque art. The nave ceiling fresco was painted by Andrea Pozzo, who was born near Trent in 1642. Pozzo studied art before he moved to Milan in 1662 and became a Jesuit brother. Encouraged to continue painting by his fellow Jesuits, for his talent was interpreted as a gift from God, Pozzo completed works in several Jesuit churches in northern Italy. He enjoyed some success with his illusionistic perspectival paintings, especially those in Turin and Mondovi, thus catching the attention of Gian Paolo Oliva in Rome, the Father-General of the Jesuits who summoned the artist to the Eternal City in the 1680s where he worked on several commissions before turning to the interior decoration of Sant’ Ignazio. Painted from 1693-1694, the nave ceiling fresco of Sant’ Ignazio glorifies the newly canonized Saint Ignatius. Near the center of the composition, Ignatius is depicted in an ecstatic state, his arms outstretched and his chest and head turned upwards to Christ, who is aloft surrounded by a nimbus of light, holding a large cross and with his left arm bent toward the saint. Further strengthening the connection between them is the stream of light which travels from Christ’s side to Ignatius’ heart. Four rays of light then emanate from Ignatius’ chest to the four corners of the earth. Specifically, the streams of light each reach Jesuit saints who were missionaries in the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Europe; these continents are represented as allegorical figures and are identified by plaques. The rest of the composition is covered with an illusionistic and fictive architecture that is peopled with myriad figures, including putti, angels, and half-nude males, who represent the heathen to be converted. The architecture, constructed of luxurious marble accented with gold, consists mostly of columns and arches, though the structure is open to the sky. At certain points, the painted architecture becomes part of the actual structure, such as where painted pilasters emerge from a real cornice, thus heightening the overall illusion created by Pozzo. Ultimately, the nave ceiling fresco is an allegory of the triumph of the Jesuits and their missions throughout the world. The power of light and fire is a central theme in Pozzo’s painting, especially visible in these rays of light emanating from Christ to Ignatius
Piazza Navona and Environs
and then being transmitted to the Jesuits at the four corners of the earth. This imagery, along with the personifications of the four continents, the conquered and converted heathens, and the glory of a saint, is not unusual in Baroque painting. What is unique, and what makes Pozzo’s painting distinctly Jesuit, is the inclusion of textual plaques and inscriptions which contain a play on the names of Jesus and Ignatius and serve to reinforce the notion of the power of light and fire. Ignatius’ name itself connotes fire as it contains the Latin root of the word and Jesus’ name was used for the appellation of the religious order of the Jesuits. This dialectic is strengthened by two inscribed plaques at the east and west ends of the vault. On one end is Saint Ignatius’ well-known motto, “Incendite et inflammate” or “Kindle and enflame” and on the other is Christ’s phrase, “Ignem veni mettere in terra” or “I have come to bring fire to the earth.” Andrea Pozzo’s nave ceiling is an example of quadratura painting. From the Latin quadrare, meaning “to make square,” quadratura is a specific type of painting that arose in the sixteenth century and was highly illusionistic. Found on both walls and ceilings, quadratura paintings create the appearance of reality and all other elements are subjugated to achieve this authenticity. To create this three-dimensional space, quadratura artists strictly adhered to aerial and linear perspective. Many quadratura paintings have a central focal point and as such, the illusion of the work can only be achieved when the viewer stands in a specific location. Once he or she moves from this point, the perspective becomes distorted and the illusion is broken. While the goal of a quadratura painting was to compete with, and attempt to defeat, reality, the seventeenth century viewer would not have mistaken the work of art as truth. Rather, this illusionism was meant to first fleetingly trick the viewer and then, after he or she discovers that it is in fact a painting, it was to evoke feelings of amusement, surprise, and ultimately admiration for the artist’s virtuosity and skill. The illusion of the nave vault painting is ideally viewed from a certain point, which was in fact clearly marked on the floor approximately in the middle of the nave. Pozzo was fully cognizant of the fact that when one moved from this point on the floor the architectural illusion became distorted. Rather than seeing this as an error it conversely reinforced the difficulties the artist had encountered and tried to conquer with his skill. Undoubtedly such a dramatic collapse of the illusion would have been a striking effect for any seventeenth century visitor. Ultimately, the fresco in Sant’ Ignazio served the greater glory of both the Jesuits and God, who were intrinsically and explicitly linked through imagery of light and fire. Saint Ignatius and Christ, and the rays of light,
are clearly visible in the center of the composition along with the light subsequently transmitted from Ignatius to the Jesuits at the four continents. That is, Ignatius himself was chosen by God to receive divine illumination through Christ and to spread the true Word throughout the world. The saint then transmits the light of Christ to his Jesuit priests at the four corners of the world, who in turn go about converting the heathen and heretics. As such, the fresco itself is a visual document of the fact that Ignatius was chosen by God to spread the word, thus resulting in the triumph of the Jesuit missions throughout the world. Pozzo’s perspective legitimizes the newly canonized Saint Ignatius, who performs God’s will on earth through his extensive missionaries. Therefore, Ignatius’ conversion of the world, and Pozzo’s representation of it, truly served the Jesuit motto Ad majorem dei gloriam, to the greater glory of God.
Column of Marcus Aurelius After stopping for a gelato at the famous Giolitti’s, one can relax in the nearby Piazza Colonna. In the center of this square is the second century CE Column of Marcus Aurelius (Figure 7.11), which was inspired by the earlier Column of Trajan. No one knows exactly who commissioned this column, whether it was Marcus Aurelius himself or perhaps his son, Commodus, or his co-ruler Lucius Verus, after the emperor’s death. Whichever is the case, the spiraling frieze of sculpture on the column took a long time to complete and it was not until the reign of Septimius Severus that the monument was finished. The Column of Marcus Aurelius is heavily influenced by the earlier Column of Trajan. First, both columns are the same height. Second, both columns are decorated with a spiraling frieze of relief sculpture. Third, the subject of that relief sculpture is war and glorifying the emperor. These scenes, on both columns, begin at the bottom and snake their way up to the top. Fourth, in both there would have originally been an honorific bronze sculpture of the emperor placed atop the column. Both sculptures have disappeared and St. Peter now decorates the Column of Trajan while St. Paul surmounts the Column of Marcus Aurelius. Finally, the type of location of each column is similar. The Column of Trajan was placed within a larger architectural complex, the Forum of Trajan, while the Column of Marcus Aurelius was originally in the Campus Martius district of Rome, surrounded by many other monuments; the Ara Pacis Augustae was nearby. But the Column of Marcus Aurelius, which has since been moved to its present location in the Piazza Colonna, was in an
Piazza Navona and Environs
architectural complex that consisted of an open piazza or square that also contained a temple dedicated to the divine Marcus Aurelius.
Figure 7.11: Column of Marcus Aurelius. Source: Public Domain.
But there are also significant differences between the two famous columns. First, the style and subject of the reliefs are not entirely the same. Yes, the Column of Marcus Aurelius focuses on military campaigns, specifically the ones the emperor was involved with along the Danube River in Germany (as opposed to Trajan’s campaigns in Dacia). But the Column of Trajan has only about a quarter of the scenes dedicated to battle while the others show what occurs both before and after war. In addition, the Column of Trajan shows the enemy as admirable and heroic. In contrast, the Column of Marcus Aurelius contain a higher percentage of battle scenes and within those, the scenes concentrate much more on explicit and graphic scenes of war; the sculptures do not shy away from the gruesome aspects of battle. Perhaps the sculptors were enamored with Hellenistic sculpture, which was all about drama and suspense. It is also possible that Marcus Aurelius, who was regarded as the philosopher emperor, saw the Roman Empire as beginning its downward spiral.
Sources Augenti, Andrea. Rome: Art and Archaeology. Florence: Scala, 2007. Bailey, Gauvin Alexander. Between Renaissance and Baroque: Jesuit Art in Rome, 1565-1610. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003. Bjurström, Per. “Baroque Theater and the Jesuits.” In Baroque Art: The Jesuit Contribution edited by Rudolf Wittkower and Irma B. Jaffe. New York: Fordham University Press, 1972, 99-110. Carandini, Andrea. The Atlas of Ancient Rome: Biography and Portraits of the City. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017. Coarelli, Filippo. Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide. Translated by James J. Clauss and Daniel P. Harmon. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. De Feo, Vittorio and Martinelli, Valentino. Andrea Pozzo. Milan: Electa, 1996. Harris, Ann Sutherland. Seventeenth-Century Art and Architecture. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd., 2005. Hartt, Frederick and David G. Wilkins. History of Italian Renaissance Art. Seventh edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2011. Haskell, Francis. Patrons and Painters: A Study in the Relations Between Italian Art and Society in the Age of the Baroque. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980. Kleiner, Diana E.E. Roman Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. Levy, Evonne. Propaganda and the Jesuit Baroque. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Nash, Ernest. Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome. New York City: Hacker Art Books, 1981. Ramage, Nancy H. and Andrew Ramage. Roman Art and Architecture. Fifth Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. Richardson, Frank. A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. Sanfilippo, Mario. Fountains of Rome. London: Tauris Parke Books, 1996. Scribner III, Charles. Bernini. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1991. Strong, Donald. Roman Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976. Ward-Perkins, J.B. Roman Imperial Architecture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981. Wittkower, Rudolf. Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600-1750. Volumes 13. 4th edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.
CHAPTER EIGHT THE VATICAN MUSEUMS
Introduction The Vatican Museums were originally the papal art collection amassed through the centuries. In 1973, the palace was transformed into the public museum that roughly six million people visit every year. This collection of art is one of the largest in the world and contains works from various eras of history, most notably the Renaissance and Baroque periods. One could spend weeks within the Vatican Museum without seeing everything in its collections. This chapter includes a small selection of artworks in the Vatican, starting with an examination of some of the Greek and Roman sculptures within the Pio-Clementino. During the Renaissance, many of these ancient masterpieces were unearthed and then added to the papal collection. One of the major stops in any tour of the Vatican Museums includes Raphael's frescoes within the Stanza della Segnatura of the Papal Apartments. In this room is the masterpiece, The School of Athens, painted at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Finally, any visit to the Vatican Museums must include the Sistine Chapel. Any route that a visitor chooses to take within the collections will eventually lead to this last stop: Capella Sistina. The walls include paintings by many of the leading fifteenth century Italian artists while Michelangelo is famous for painting the ceiling and the Last Judgment.
Pio-Clementino Museum The Pio-Clementino Museum within the Vatican houses many ancient Greek and Roman masterpieces. Many of these sculptures are Roman copies of Greek originals, like the famous Lysippus sculpture, the Apoxyomenos (Figure 8.1), or scraper. In the middle of a small gallery, the slightly over life-size marble sculpture is meant to catch your eye. But it is not the original. Lysippus, a Late Classical sculptor in ancient Greece, created the original Apoxyomenos out of bronze in the late fourth century
BCE (ca. 330 BCE). Over a century after Polykleitos’ Doryphoros (spearbearer), Lysippus responds to the High Classical tradition and he creates his own distinctive canon of proportions.
Figure 8.1: Lysippus, Apoxyomenos. Source: Public Domain.
First, though, we must back up and examine the Doryphoros, the highlight of the High Classical period. From about 450 BCE, the Doryphoros represents the classical ideal with its perfect proportions and naturalism. The Doryphoros stands contrapposto, with all the weight resting on one leg. It is also a marble copy of a Greek bronze original and it depicts a nude, male athlete. Polykleitos envisioned the Doryphoros as his perfect representation of an athlete, who originally would have held a spear. To achieve this sculpture of the ideal, Polykleitos devised his own canon of proportions, realizing that every part of the body, no matter how small, related to everything else; there was beauty in the commensurability of the parts. In Polykleitos’ canon, manifested within the Doryphoros, the sculptor created his ideal male athlete, a heavily muscled, solid figure.
The Vatican Museums
Lysippus’ Apoxyomenos has several characteristics in common with the Dorypohoros. First, the scraper is also a Roman copy of a Greek original and they are both extremely naturalistic in style. They both have the same subject as well: a nude male athlete in the prime of his life. The Apoxyomenos is an athlete who has finished his workout and is in the process of washing himself with olive oil, as was common in antiquity. After covering the body with the oil, the athlete uses a strigil, or curved instrument, to scrape away the olive oil. The two sculptures also both stand contrapposto. But about one hundred years after the Doryphoros, the style of Greek sculpture has started to change a little. While realism is still paramount, there are several notable changes. Poses and postures become less frontal during the Late Classical period. The Doryphoros, while freestanding, is really meant to only be seen from a frontal perspective. But the Apoxyomenos has a much more complex pose. Yes, the scraper stands in contrapposto, but this is starting to create a dramatic S-curve to the body. In addition, no longer are the hands simply at the sides. Lysippus’ sculpture has hands and arms that are outstretched and imply movement and action. The right arm is stretched out and the left arms would have held the strigil, which would have been scraped across the right arm. Presumably, when that was completed, the athlete would have transferred the strigil to his right hand to scrape his left arm. Thus, the Apoxyomenos now has more parts of the sculpture sticking out; it is less frontal and compels one to walk all the way around it to see all the different viewpoints. Finally, Lysippus also uses a canon of proportions, which was inspired by Polykleitos, but he has changed the body type. Lysippus has a different ideal man in mind and it is one that is muscular, but longer and leaner than the heavier and bulkier Doryphoros. Lysippus has also made the head a little smaller. The effect of Lysippus’ canon of proportions is that his Apoxyomenos, though the same size as the Dorypkhoros, actually seems larger than the spear-bearer. In another gallery of the Pio-Clementino is the Hellenistic masterpiece, the Laocöon (Figure 8.2), another Roman copy of a Greek original. Following the Late Classical period, sculpture in the Hellenistic period continued to be less frontal and utilized increasingly complex and dynamic poses, often with exaggerated musculature. The Hellenistic age also became more interested in depicting different ages and conveying emotion. All these qualities are exhibited in the Laocöon.
Figure 8.2: Laocöon. Source: Public Domain.
The subject of this Hellenistic sculpture is Laocöon, a figure in Greek mythology. According to legend, Laocöon was a priest of the god Apollo. But like many figures in classical mythology, Laocöon gets himself into trouble. While he was supposed to adhere to a vow of celibacy, Laocöon ended up having sex with his wife, who then became pregnant. As if this were not enough, Laocöon had sexual relations within Apollo’s sanctuary, thus adding to Apollo’s anger. Laocöon’s wife gave birth to twin boys, Antiphas and Thymbraeus, and as the sons and their father were performing a sacrifice to Poseidon, the three were crushed to death by sea serpents; Apollo had sent the snakes to perform this deathly deed. The Laocöon sculptural group is a perfect example of the dramatic, Hellenistic style. Drama and emotion are highlighted. The sculptors (probably three of them: Agesander, Athenodorus, and Polydorus of Rhodes) chose to depict the exact moment that the father and two sons wrestle with the sea serpents and hence drama and theatricality are highlighted in this marble sculpture. Laocöon is in the center, half-seated in his pose, with a twisting torso and one arm trying to raise above his head, which in turn is twisting with the pressure and strain. On Laocöon’s face, one can see the deep struggle the man is having, as he tries to save himself and his sons from the serpents, which wind their way through all their limbs. Nude, Laocöon has rippling muscles that are exaggerated as he
The Vatican Museums
has the physique of a bodybuilder. Flanking Laocöon are his two sons, who are about half the size of the bulking mass of their father. They look to their father for help, as they too struggle to free themselves from the snakes.
Figure 8.3: Portrait of Claudius as Jupiter. Source: Montarde, 2004.
In a rotunda of the Pio-Clementino is a famous sculpture of the Roman emperor Claudius (Figure 8.3), who became emperor after Tiberius. This sculpture is especially important when we compare it to the earlier Augustus of Primaporta, because the statue of Claudius reveals some important changes that were being made in Roman sculpture. At the beginning of the Roman Empire, public sculptures of emperors did not depict the leader as a god or in the guise of a god. Augustus is shown as having the gods on his side (in the cuirass) and he subtly refers to his divine lineage (through the Cupid at his feet). But Augustus does not come out and explicitly state that he is a god. However, it is important to note that this sculpture that depicts the emperor as god-like was not erected in the city of Rome itself. The marble statue was found in Lanuvium, a city about thirty miles from Rome. But what Claudius is doing, showing himself as a god, will soon become commonplace in Rome. Fifty years later though, in 42-43 CE, Claudius is starting to change things. In this sculpture, Claudius is depicted in the guise of Jupiter. This
is clear just through a cursory glance at the iconographic motifs used. First, an eagle, which is the emblem of Jupiter, stands at Claudius’ right foot. In Claudius’ left hand, he holds a scepter, another attribute of Jupiter. Finally, Claudius is shown in heroic semi-nudity; he is clothed from the waist down, but his chest is bear. This is another motif that Jupiter is known for. Thus, this public sculpture of Claudius clearly shows the emperor as god-like, something that could not be done at the beginning of the Roman Empire. The sculpture in the Vatican is Claudius’ best known portrait. Compared to Augustus’ idealized style, one will notice that Claudius is more veristic, at least in his face, which seems older and wiser. Claudius has bags and lines under his eyes, crows’ feet, and a furrowed brow. But Claudius’ body, like that of the Augustus of Primaporta, is that of an athlete in his prime. His bare chest is strongly muscled and he has sharply defined abdominals. Claudius has the typical Julio-Claudian locks of hair resting on his forehead and he wears a large laurel crown atop his head, a symbol of victory. Standing contrapposto, with his right leg in front of his left, the emperor holds a patera, or shallow dish, in his right hand. A patera was used in Roman religious rituals, typically at sacrifices involving the pouring of libations. The Pio-Clementino has several portraits of Antinous, the young lover of the emperor Hadrian. While Hadrian was married to Sabina, his true love was Antinous. Hadrian, who was the most-traveled out of all the Roman emperors, often invited Antinous as his companion. During a fateful trip down the Nile River of Egypt in 130 CE, Antinous fell off the boat and drowned. Hadrian, bereft, would subsequently commission countless portraits of his young lover, many of which would decorate his grand villa at Tivoli. In these sculptural portraits, Antinous is depicted in a variety of guises. In one from Delphi, the young man is Apollo. The Vatican Museums have several of these portraits of Antinous. In the so-called Braschi Antinous, Antinous is shown in the guise of Dionysus. Another sculpture in the Vatican depicts Antinous as an Egyptian pharaoh. Whatever his guise, though, Antinous is always young and beautiful. The Portrait of Antinous as a Pharaoh (Figure 8.4) dates to about 130-138 CE and would have decorated Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli. Made of marble, the sculpture is life-size and honors the last trip the two would take together in Egypt. Antinous stands in a typical Egyptian pose, stiff and rigid, with the striding pose of his legs and his fists clenched at his side. The young man wears a kilt that covers his lower half and a
The Vatican Museums
headdress; these two iconographic features conveyed pharaonic status in ancient Egypt. The sculpture is very frontal and is meant to be seen from this perspective. While the sculpture exhibits many Egyptian qualities, it is combined with a Roman preference for realism. Antinous’ anatomy and muscles are accurately rendered; the marble looks like pliable, soft skin. The face is also more individualized, versus the generalized nature of traditional pharaonic sculptures of Egypt.
Figure 8.4: Portrait of Antinous. Source: CaptMondo, 2008.
Exiting the Pio-Clementino Museum, one can take a respite outside, exploring the Cortile della Pigna, or courtyard. Within this courtyard is another Roman sculptural masterpiece, the column base of Antoninus Pius (Figure 8.5). Originally, a red granite column would have topped this base, but this no longer exists. The marble base is decorated on three sides with relief sculpture while the fourth side has an inscription, which
indicates that this monument was erected in honor of Antoninus Pius and his wife, Faustina, by his successors, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. From the long and lithe Apoxyomenos to Antinous to the Laocöon, the Roman Empire, like the Greek civilization before them, valued naturalism. But as the centuries of the Empire progressed, a change in style occurred, moving from the highly realistic to a more abstract and less naturalistic style, which would come to fully dominate by the Early Christian period. From about 400-1400, or through the course of the Middle Ages, naturalism was not of prime concern.
Figure 8.5: Column Base of Antoninus Pius. Source: Lalupa, 2006.
The column base of Antoninus Pius, who became emperor after Hadrian (and was even adopted by his predecessor) is important because it shows the emergence of this less naturalistic style on a public monument in Rome. Not only that, but you can witness, all in the same work, a naturalistic relief sculpture on one side and a less realistic one on the other side. In short, the column base of Antoninus Pius gives a glimpse into the future style of Roman art, right at its genesis. The base contains a scene of apotheosis, with the deceased emperor and empress becoming deities. This is a common subject in Roman art and was a part of other imperial monuments, like the Arch of Titus. In this scene of apotheosis, Antoninus Pius and his wife, Faustina, are raised aloft to heaven by a nude, winged man. Clothed in a toga, the emperor holds a scepter topped with an eagle in his right hand, connecting him to Jupiter. Faustina, to the right of her husband, is crowned with a diadem and holds another scepter. The emperor and empress are flanked by two additional,
The Vatican Museums
large eagles, thus making it clear that they are meant to be linked to Jupiter and his wife, Juno, the two most important deities in the Roman pantheon. Below the apotheosis, there are two personifications on either side: Campus Martius on the left and Roma on the right. Campus Martius is the personification of an area of Rome that known for its many funerary monuments of the emperors, including the Ara Pacis Augustae. Reclining, Campus Martius holds an obelisk (perhaps a reference to Augustus’ Horologium) as he looks up to Antoninus Pius and Faustina. Roma is the personification of the city and she has the traditional attributes of that goddess: she wears a helmet, has a shield and bow and arrows. Her left elbow rests on one of her shields, which is decorated with a version of the famous Etruscan bronze sculpture of Romulus and Remus suckled by the she-wolf. Roma is seated, with her right hand outstretched and pointing toward the apotheosis. The style of this scene of apotheosis is highly classicizing. The proportions of the figures are correct, the anatomy is clearly rendered and naturalistic, and there are a variety of poses, postures, and individualized features. Furthermore, there is a distinct ground-line, upon which Roma and Campus Martius sit. There is also a desire to show the depiction of space because atmospheric perspective is utilized, leaving the figures in the foreground in a higher relief than other items in the background (like Roma’s second shield and her sheath of arrows). Adjacent to this scene of apotheosis is the Decursio, or ritual circling of the funerary pyre. It is here that the new style emerges and it is one that is an unnaturalistic style in several ways. First, there is no firm ground-line and no accurate depiction of space. There is no recession into space to show the ritual cycling, but instead, we see the entire circle from top to bottom, with soldiers holding trophies on the interior of this circle. In short, this means that there are multiple ground-lines. In addition, there are multiple viewpoints shown in the same compositional zone. The soldiers are seen straight-on, but then we look at the circling men on horseback from below and above. The figures too are unnaturalistic. They are no longer proportional but are short and stocky. Furthermore, they all look alike; they are not individualized. Their clothes also exhibit patterning and regularity in the folds, which is not realistic.
Papal Apartments Before commissioning Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Pope Julius II had another project on his mind: the completion of the decoration of his papal apartments within the Vatican. The pope had
previously employed the artist Sodoma to paint the frescoes on the walls and ceiling of these rooms. However, when Raphael’s reputation began to increase in Italy, Julius II ousted Sodoma from the project and hired the new artist to complete the project. (Raphael had just arrived in Rome and Bramante, the famed architect of St. Peter’s Basilica, introduced the young artist to the pope.) Through the course of Raphael's commission, he painted over many of Sodoma’s original wall paintings, though many of the older artist’s ceiling frescoes were left intact. After Pope Julius II fired the previous artists, Raphael got to work on the new frescoes in 1509, painting them until his early death in 1520. Referred to as the stanze (stanza is the Italian word for room), the Papal Apartments consist of four large rooms: Stanza di Incendio, Stanza della Segnatura, Stanza d’Eliodoro, and Stanza di Costantino. Constructed during the pontificate of Nicholas V in the mid-fifteenth century, the rooms originally had frescoes painted by some of the most influential Quattrocento masters, including Luca Signorelli and Piero della Francesco. While Sodoma, Perugino, and others contributed early on to this project, it is Raphael’s works that ultimately cover most of the walls. While they are called the Papal Apartments, this was not where Pope Julius II lived. Instead, these are four large rooms that served as reception areas and offices. Each of the four rooms has its own program and theme. Like the Sistine Chapel, scholars do not know the exact program for the Papal Apartments because no official documents were saved. But most likely, Raphael had the help of theologians, philosophers, and other scholars. While there is a consensus as to what the programs of each of the four rooms are, some debates remain, especially with the School of Athens fresco. This tour of the Papal Apartments focuses on the Stanza della Segnatura (for the other three rooms, consult George L. Hersey's useful and informative book, High Renaissance Art in St. Peter’s and the Vatican). The Stanza della Segnatura was the first room to be completed, and was done before the death of Julius II in 1513. The Stanza della Segnatura was originally used as a room to sign important documents; the Italian word signare, means to sign. The stanza also might have been Pope Julius II's personal library. The walls and ceiling are covered with frescoes and all adhere to one common theme: the pursuit of the intellectual ideals of truth, goodness, and beauty, which ultimately is connected to the ubiquity of the humanistic philosophy during the Renaissance. On the ceiling, there are four medallions containing the personifications of Theology, Philosophy, Justice, and Poetry; all four are women. Each of these four medallions
The Vatican Museums
align with an appropriate fresco beneath. Thus, the female personification of Philosophy is directly above the most famous fresco in the room, The School of Athens. (Theology is above the Dispute of the Holy Sacrament, Poetry is above Parnassus, and Justice is about the Virtues.)
Figure 8.6: The School of Athens, Raphael, 1509-11. Source: Public Domain.
The School of Athens (Figure 8.6) is Raphael's best known painting, and like the Stanza della Segnatura, it is a representation of the intellectual ideals of truth, as pursued by the human mind in the study of academic disciplines like geometry, mathematics, philosophy, and astronomy. The subject of the fresco is a gathering of the most famous minds of antiquity in a spectacular, classically-inspired setting. All these figures have played an important role in pursuing truth. Within this lunette-shaped fresco, the mass of figures stand and lounge on a wide staircase. In the background, the coffered barrel vaults, pilasters, sculptures of Apollo and Minerva (Roman gods of reason and truth), and a dome are visible. The classical influence is apparent and Raphael must have studied the ruins of sites like the Basilica of Constantine. All is clear, light, and logical, as is typical of Raphael's classicizing and ideal style. With the use of linear perspective, Raphael creates a
believable recession into space into which he places figures. Likewise, the figures are highly naturalistic, with a clear volume and mass created through modelling in light and dark. The focal point of Raphael's fresco is directly in the center beneath the coffered barrel vault. Here, two figures stand next to one another and they are the two most important philosophers of antiquity: Plato and Aristotle. On the left, Plato is the elder, with long white hair and beard. His head turns toward his student as he takes a step forward. His left hand holds one of his works, the Timaeus, while his right hand is pointing upward. This gesture has an important iconographic meaning, as Plato is referencing the forms. On the other side, Aristotle is the younger man, who turns toward his teacher. He too grasps a book in his right hand: his own Nichomachean Ethics. His left hand is thrust outward, reaching into the viewer's space. This is a reference to Aristotle's empirical philosophy. To the left of Plato and Aristotle, most figures identify the balding, bearded man in puce as Socrates, the patriarch of this philosophical group. A group of students surround Socrates as he counts off points of a lesson. Seated below Socrates is the mathematician Pythagoras, who is famous for his Pythagorean theory and he is depicted surrounded by students. To the right, and seated by himself, is a heavily bearded man who rests his left arm on a marble block. He is Heraclitus, the pessimistic Greek philosopher who was famous for saying that you can never step in the same river twice (a river is constantly flowing so it is never the same). On the right half of the fresco, there are even more figures. At the bottom, the bald figure in red bending over is Euclid with a compass. The geometrist is teaching the figures around him. Behind Euclid are two figures holding globes: the astronomists Ptolemy and Zoroaster. Finally, sprawled out on the staircase to the left of all these figures is Diogenes, the philosopher/beggar, who is dressed in tatters and has a begging bowl. (What is written here is the standard identification of the figures. For an extremely different interpretation, read Daniel Orth Bell's "New Identifications in Raphael's School of Athens from 1995.) But The School of Athens is not just a painting of the greatest thinkers of antiquity. Raphael has also inserted his own commentary on the status of artists, arguing that they too should must be considered great thinkers and scientists as well. He does this by inserting portraits of the most important contemporary artists on these philosophers. Socrates is a portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. Pythagoras is the brooding, misanthropic Michelangelo. It is fitting this figure sits next to a marble block, as sculpting was Michelangelo's greatest passion in all the arts. On the right side, Euclid is often identified as Bramante, the High Renaissance
The Vatican Museums
architect famous for the Tempietto and the initial plan of St. Peter's. Finally, Raphael has inserted a self-portrait of himself and his predecessor, Sodoma, on the far right side. Raphael is the only figure who looks out at the viewer. With the inclusion of these portraits, Raphael makes a strong statement that artists, like these philosophers, are great thinkers who utilize mathematics to create paintings such as this one.
Capella Sistina (Sistine Chapel) The ultimate destination of any visit to the Vatican Museums is, of course, the Sistine Chapel (Figure 8.7). Regardless of the route one chooses, all roads end at the Sistine Chapel. Following this, visitors can exit directly into the Piazza di San Pietro and gain access to St. Peter’s Basilica.
Figure 8.7: Interior of the Sistine Chapel. Source: Antoine Taveneaux, 2007.
The present Sistine Chapel is a replacement for an earlier thirteenth century building. In 1473, Pope Sixtus IV decided to commission a new chapel; this pope is how the chapel gets its name (Sixtus=Sistine). Completed in 1481, the Sistine Chapel was dedicated to the assumption of the Virgin Mary. The plain exterior of the chapel belies its richly decorated interior, with its frescoes not only by Michelangelo, but also by the leading Florentine and Umbrian painters of the fifteenth century that
line the walls. In addition, the floor is covered with elaborate marble patterning. The chapel’s proportions were carefully derived from the famed Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. In the Book of Kings, the ancient temple is described as having its length twice its width, and this is matched in the Sistine Chapel. Covered with a flattened vault, the interior space is broken up by a choir screen that is close to the back of the chapel; this originally was placed more in the middle of the space but was moved later in the sixteenth century. Choir screens were used to separate the clergy from the laity. When the Sistine Chapel was built, its function was to be a private chapel for the pope, and thus very few laity had access to this building. The Sistine Chapel was also utilized for the papal conclaves, when the cardinals would gather to elect the next pope. White smoke comes out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel when a pope has been elected; if the cardinals are left still deliberating at the end the day, black smoke is released. After building the Sistine Chapel, Pope Sixtus IV commissioned the top artists of the late fifteenth century to decorate the walls with scenes from the life of Christ and Moses; these were completed from 1481-83. As one faces the altar, to the right are scenes from the life of Moses from the Old Testament, and on the left, are scenes of Christ. Perugino, Botticelli, Signorelli, and Ghirlandaio, among others, painted these frescoes. One of the most famous scenes is by Perugino, who was from Perugia and was the teacher of Raphael. On the left is his famous Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter (Figure 8.8). In the center of the foreground is Christ, who stands and hands a large set of keys to St. Peter, who kneels before him. St. Peter will become the first pope and serve as a foundation of the Church. Numerous figures are included in the foreground and all have the easy, elegant postures Perugino, and his student Raphael, are known for. Perugino is also famous for his expansive backgrounds, which usually include buildings as is seen here. Behind Christ and Peter is an enormous piazza, at the back of which is a centrally planned building flanked by two triumphal arches. The central building is an allusion to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem while the monuments beside him are surely references to the Arch of Constantine. In the attics of these triumphal arches are inscriptions that celebrate Sixtus IV and compare his achievements to those of Solomon. In the middle ground, there are additional figures showing different stories. On the left is a scene of the Tribute Money, a scene that is rarely depicted in art (though Masaccio created his famous version in the Brancacci Chapel in Florence in 1427). It is here that the
The Vatican Museums
Roman tax collector demands his due from Christ and the disciples. On the right is a scene of the stoning of Christ, derived from the Gospel of John. All these scenes are placed within a highly realistic space, created through linear perspective. In the deep distance, one even sees the landscape.
Figure 8.8: Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter, Perugino, 1481. Source: Public Domain.
Below these fifteenth century paintings is a level of painted curtains. This lowest level was originally covered with tapestries. Following Pope Julius II’s death, Pope Leo X, who was a member of the famed Medici family, continued commissioning artworks for the Sistine Chapel. In 1514, Pope Leo X had Raphael create a series of tapestries depicting the Acts of the Apostles, which were hung on this lowest level of the walls of the Sistine Chapel. Today, these tapestries hang in the corridor of the Vatican Museums while the cartoons (all but three that were lost) of these designs are in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Raphael was not a tapestry maker, but he was responsible for the design and composition of each of the ten tapestries (he had help from one of his students, Giulio Romano). The full-scale colored cartoons, cut into strips, were sent to Bruges in Flanders (present-day Belgium), where expert weavers made the tapestries to-order. The cost of these tapestries was much more than the entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and thus Pope Leo X spared no expense for this commission; the finished tapestries, when hung, would have been a symbol of Leo X’s wealth and power.
Today, however, the tapestries are seldom hung on the walls and so one must catch a glimpse of them in a corridor of the Vatican Museums. In the ten tapestries, the figures loom large and present a combination of drama with architecture and space behind; they are a perfect example of the High Renaissance style of the early sixteenth century. Each tapestry, whose subject is taken from the Acts of the Apostles, depicts a miracle performed by one of the twelve apostles. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Pope Julius II would transform the decoration of the Sistine Chapel. Instead of having Michelangelo continue working on his tomb project, Pope Julius II demanded that the artist paint the ceiling of the chapel. Michelangelo did not want to paint these frescoes; he considered himself to be a sculptor first and foremost. But the pope needed to be kept happy so that Michelangelo could, hopefully, soon return to his passion project of the tomb.
Figure 8.9: Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Source: Aaron Logan, 2003.
Michelangelo began painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (Figure 8.9) in 1508 and completed it four years later in 1512. Pope Julius II initially presented Michelangelo with a rather uninspired plan for the ceiling: he wanted twelve enthroned apostles over the windows and the rest of the vault would be covered with a starry sky. Michelangelo’s
The Vatican Museums
biographers claim that the artist balked at this design, saying that it would be a “poor thing.” Pope Julius II then gave Michelangelo free reign to design the ceiling, though most likely the artist consulted with scholars and theologians because of its complex theme and iconography. The ceiling, like the fifteenth century paintings, were covered with frescoes, or painting on wet plaster. Michelangelo created full-scale cartoons of his compositions (these are lost) and each morning, he would have spread enough wet plaster on the ceiling that he knew he could paint in that day; this is called a giornata. After applying the plaster, Michelangelo would then adhere his cartoon onto it, taking a pointed or spiked stylus to poke holes tracing the designs. Once completed, charcoal was patted into those holes and when the cartoon was removed, a tracing of the design was left on the wet plaster, allowing Michelangelo to work quickly and efficiently. He mainly worked by himself, instead of relying on a workshop full of students and apprentices. Notoriously grouchy and a bit of a misanthrope, the solitary work would have appealed to the sculptor. While he had only a few assistants, these painters were responsible for the least important figures in the ceiling while Michelangelo did the bulk of the painting himself. Michelangelo began painting the ceiling at the entrance end of the chapel, proceeding toward the altar at the far end. This means that he painted the Genesis scenes in reverse chronological order, starting with Noah and ending with the scenes of creation. Perhaps Michelangelo wanted to experiment and work out compositional problems on the less important Noah scenes before delving into the panels with God, Adam, and Eve. In any case, a distinct stylistic development is evident, especially when the two enthroned figures at either end are examined. Zachariah, at the entrance, was painted first while Jonah, above the altar, was painted last. Zachariah is smaller with a less complex pose. By the time Michelangelo got to the figure of Jonah, he had changed the figural style, making the prophet larger combined with a dynamic, twisting pose. Michelangelo discarded Pope Julius II’s simplistic theme for the Sistine Ceiling for a more complex one. Instead of the blue sky tinged with nighttime stars, the vault of the chapel is decorated with numerous figural scenes, all of which are separated from each other through painted simulated architecture. Faux pilasters turn into cornices that run from one side wall, across the vault, and terminate on the other side with pilasters. Pinnacled structures also are used to frame figures. Running down the middle of the vault are the most famous scenes from the Sistine Ceiling: nine scenes from Genesis. These are in turn grouped into three triads. Beginning chronologically at the altar end is the triad
with scenes of the creation of the world. At the far end is the Separation of Light from Darkness. God is the solitary figure in this scene, dressed in a pink garment, he stands with his head looking upward and his arms outstretched. On God’s left side, darkness swirls while on his right is white light. Next in this triad is the Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Planets. Here God is visible again and he is shown twice, thus making this triad a continuous narrative. On the right, God rushes toward us, pushing the sun with his right hand. The moon, which is behind his left hand, will soon be brought forward and created. On the left side, we see the back of God as he points toward the earth that is sprouting vegetation. The last scene in this triad is the Separation of Land and Water. Again, God is hovering in the sky, his hands outstretched as he separates water from the land. The middle triad is undoubtedly the most popular of these Genesis scenes and contain the creation of Adam and Eve and their ultimate expulsion from the Garden of Eden. First is the infamous Creation of Adam. God is aloft on the right, his hand and finger outstretched toward Adam, who sits on a grassy knoll on the left. Almost completely inert, Adam reclines and extends one inert finger toward God. When these fingers touch, the energizing life force will transfer to Adam. God is surrounded by a huge, billowing mantle, which some scholars have said is in the shape of a human brain. Within this mantle are several figures, perhaps Eve and the infant Christ. Next, and directly in the center of the vault, is the Creation of Eve, who was made through God taking a rib from Adam, who is slumped over on a tree at the left. Eve stands, bowing, toward God, who stands before her. Eve is depicted as a very muscular woman, with strong thighs, rippling abdominal muscles, and bulging biceps. As stated, this scene is directly in the center of the vault, which has a special meaning. Usually Eve is connected to the Virgin Mary, who is likewise tied to the Church. The Sistine Chapel is dedicated to the Virgin, so placing Eve at the center is a way of honoring the Virgin and emphasizing her connection to the Catholic Church. As a side note, Michelangelo’s women often look very masculine. Michelangelo loved the male body above all else, and because of this, he even used male models for his painted female figures. (The sibyls in the pinnacles are also very muscular.) Last in this triad are two scenes from the Garden of Eden (and another continuous narrative). On the left is the Temptation, when the snake, which winds itself around the tree and has a female head, tempts Adam and Eve with the forbidden fruit. After Adam and Eve eat the fruit, they are subsequently expelled from the Garden of Eden, a scene which is
The Vatican Museums
visible on the right as an angel in the sky brandishing a sword ushers the two out of paradise. Adam and Eve are now aware of their nudity and are ashamed, they try to cover up their nakedness. Both figures show great emotion as they cry and are regretful of their sin. Michelangelo, who grew up in Florence, often visited the Brancacci Chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine, where he would have seen Masaccio’s famous fresco of the expulsion; the compositional and stylistic influence is apparent. The final triad shows three scenes of Noah, the Old Testament figure who is best known for the Ark. First is the Sacrifice of Noah. Next is the infamous flood scene, which God brought upon humanity because of our sins. Only Noah, a righteous man, and his family were spared. Noah built the ark for his family and brought many different species of animals aboard to escape the inundation. This scene on the ceiling is chaotic, with several groups of figures fleeing the flood and chaos. Remember, these scenes of Noah were painted first and the scene of the flood is vastly different from those first three of God. In the flood, there are numerous figures, landscape, and a boat in the water. All of this would have been difficult to see from the floor, which is a possible reason why Michelangelo changed his style to one that is more focused on just a figure or two. The last of this triad depicts the drunkenness of Noah, who is slumped over and unconscious in his inebriation. Each of the nine Genesis scenes are framed by the painted, simulated architecture. In each of the four corners are four ignudi, or nude men. Seated on pedestals, the ignudi twist and turn in their postures and hold golden medallions. Michelangelo would have seen many of the ancient sculptures within the Vatican collection, and the influences from these earlier statues is clear. For example, the Belvedere Torso, though in ruins, depicts a seated man with a twisting posture much like many of Michelangelo’s ignudi. No one knows for sure what the purpose of these ignudi was. Michelangelo was unhappy to be painting this ceiling fresco and would have preferred to be working on the pope’s sculptural tomb project. Maybe the nude men, who are very sculptural and threedimensional, were a way to still create art that interested him. Some have suggested that the ignudi are angels, but if this is the case, then these are a type of angel that have never been seen before: nude wingless men with bulging muscles. Again, the most likely scenario is that Michelangelo, who revelled in the male nude, used the ignudi to explore his passion. Above the windows and in the pinnacled arches are seven enthroned Old Testament prophets and five pagan sibyls (originally Pope Julius II wanted the twelve apostles). There are five figures on each long side and one prophet on each of the short sides (remember Zachariah and Jonah and
the discussion about the chronology of these paintings and change in style). Like the ignudi, these many of these figures have twisting, dynamic postures derived from classical sculpture like the Laocöon and the Belvedere Torso. They all hold books or scrolls and are expressive and individualized. One might wonder why Old Testament prophets and ancient female prophetesses were even included within the program of the Sistine Chapel, but this was a long-established tradition. As prophets, these figures foretold the coming of a messiah, which the Christians took to be Christ. Thus, the prophets and sibyls were viewed as predicting the coming of Christ and link Christianity back to Judaism and classical antiquity. There are additional spandrels and lunettes over the windows of the Sistine Chapel, and these frescoes depict the many ancestors of Christ, who were named at the start of the Gospel of Matthew. Like the prophets, these ancestors are from the Old Testament and include Abraham, Joseph, Jacob, Jesse, and many others. In the lunettes over the windows, there are typically two ancestors flanking the window; between them is a plaque that identifies them. The pinnacled spandrels hold one ancestor of Christ. The purpose of all these Old Testament figures is to convey that humanity has been waiting (and suffering in the meantime) for the messiah for a long time. Like the prophets, the ancestors of Christ link Christianity to the ancient Jewish past. In the four corner spandrels, there are four additional scenes that depict the salvation of the Jewish people: Judith and Holofernes, David and Goliath, Punishment of Moses, and the Serpent of Brass. In each of these four stories, God helps the Jewish people to escape oppression and danger. For example, Judith is a Jewish woman whose town was being occupied by an Assyrian general, Holofernes. Judith and her maidservant concocted a plan to get rid of the general – she would get him drunk, pretend to seduce him, and then with the help of her maid, cut off his head. In Michelangelo’s scene, we see the aftermath of this, with the maid holding the platter with Holofernes’ decapitated head as she and Judith attempt to escape the camp. The head of Holofernes is said to be a portrait of Pope Julius II, a clear indication that Michelangelo was angry at being held hostage, painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel when he would have rather been sculpting the pope’s tomb. One final part of the Sistine Chapel remains: the enormous painting on the wall behind the altar: Michelangelo’s Last Judgment (Figure 8.10). After Michelangelo completed the ceiling in 1512, it would be almost thirty years before he received the commission to paint this wall. Pope Julius II was long deceased by that time, and the subsequent popes had
The Vatican Museums
long wanted a painting on this wall, especially Pope Clement VII. When Clement VII died in 1534, his successor, Pope Paul III, decided to request that Michelangelo paint a scene of Last Judgment here. Like the Sistine ceiling, Michelangelo first created full-scale cartoons for his huge fresco, which measure forty-eight feet in height. Michelangelo began painting the Last Judgment in 1536 and completed it five years later in 1541. Michelangelo’s Last Judgment was just one in a long line of Italian Renaissance paintings of this subject. Luca Signorelli painted a horrifying Last Judgment scene in the Duomo of Orvieto. Giotto, often regarded as the forefather of the Italian Renaissance, also had his own version of the Last Judgment within the Arena Chapel. In his version, Giotto presents the viewer with a highly ordered, hierarchical composition. The Last Judgment takes place at the end of days. The dead rise out of their graves and are clothed with flesh, ascending to Christ, who will judge whether they are blessed and deserve to go to heaven or if they are sinners and need to be condemned to hell. Last Judgment scenes typically include the blessed and the damned, with Christ the Judge in the center, flanked by a host of angels and saints. When first examining Michelangelo’s version, it seems much less ordered than Giotto’s, which has clear levels and differentiation between the players of this scene. Michelangelo has created a swirling mass of moving figures, and one’s eyes are constantly circling around the composition. But when you start to look a little more closely, Michelangelo’s organization becomes apparent; his composition is divided into four different zones. In the bottom zone on the left, the dead skeletons rise from the graves and are clothed with flesh. Their skin is deathly green, as they are lifted to Christ in the center of the composition. In the center of this lowest zone is a fiery cave with demon-like figures entering and exiting. This is presumably hell; it aligns perfectly with the altar in the chapel. At the right, the mythological figure, Charon, stands in his boat as he leads the damned across the River Styx and to hell.
Figure 8.10: The Last Judgment, Michelangelo, 1536-1541. Source: Public Domain.
The second level of the Last Judgment is dominated in the center by a group of angels sitting on clouds. Like the ignudi on the ceiling, these angels are nude, wingless men. The figures are bulky with exaggerated musculature. Some of the angels hold horns to their lips, heralding the announcement of the blessed and the damned. Two angels sitting at the bottom hold books. On the left, an angel holds the Book of Good Deeds while on the right, another angel has the Book of Evil Deeds. One of the books is much larger than the other and it represents Michelangelo’s view of humanity: the Book of Evil Deeds is the biggest one, telling us that humans are sinners and that there are fewer virtuous people out there. On either side of this group of angels, the blessed are rising to heaven on the left and the condemned are being forced to hell on the right. The third level contains Christ the Judge in the center. His half-seated pose is reminiscent of the Belvedere torso and the gesture of his arms mimic the Apollo Belvedere – both these sculptures were part of the Vatican collection and would have been accessible to the artist. Christ’s wounds from the crucifixion are barely visible, but the spear wound from Longinus can be seen on the left side of his chest. Christ’s right arm is raised, bringing the blessed to heaven, while his right hand is lowered,
The Vatican Museums
pushing the damned to hell. He is surrounded by a mass of figures; these are saints. At his side is the Virgin Mary, dressed in blue and red. Countless saints stand with him on this blessed level, and many of them can be identified by their attributes. For example, St. Catherine of Alexandria is on the right and she is wearing green and is holding a spiked wheel. To the right and below Christ, St. Lawrence straddles a cloud and he holds a flayed skin, which is St. Bartholomew, who was flayed alive. Looking closely at the face of this skin, it has been suggested that this is a self-portrait of Michelangelo. To the right of St. Lawrence is St. Peter, an old man who can be identified because he carries a key, one of his iconographic attributes. The top level is divided into two lunettes and contains angels with symbols of Christ’s Passion. The angels are typical for Michelangelo: muscular, nude men without wings. On the left, a swarm of these angels hold the wooden crucifix while on the left, one of them grips the crown of thorns. In the lunette on the right, the column of the scourging is held aloft along with the nails used on the cross. The Last Judgment exhibits a change in style from the earlier scenes on the Sistine Ceiling. On the ceiling, Adam is depicted as a lithe, muscular figure. But almost thirty years later, Michelangelo has become obsessed with musculature, which is heavily exaggerated. Christ and the saints almost look like bodybuilders, with their bulging biceps and abs of steel.
Sources Augenti, Andrea. Rome: Art and Archaeology. Florence: Scala, 2007. Bell, Daniel Orth. "New Identification in Raphael's School of Athens." The Art Bulletin 77 (December 1995): 639-46. Campbell, Thomas P. Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. Hartt, Frederick and David G. Wilkins. History of Italian Renaissance Art. Seventh edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2011. Hersey, George L. High Renaissance Art in St. Peter’s and the Vatican. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993. Hibbard, Howard. Michelangelo. 2nd ed. 1985 King, Ross. Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling. London: Penguin Books, 2003. Kleiner, Diana E.E. Roman Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Ramage, Nancy H. and Andrew Ramage. Roman Art and Architecture.
Fifth Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. Roettgen, Steffi. Italian Frescoes: The Flowering of the Renaissance 1470-1510. Translated by Russell Stockman. New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 1996. Strong, Donald. Roman Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976. Vasari, Giorgio. The Lives of the Artists. Translated by Julia Conway Bondanella and Peter Bondanella. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.
CHAPTER NINE ST. PETER’S
Introduction Old St. Peter's was one of the first Early Christian churches to be constructed in Rome after the emperor Constantine legalized Christianity. Discussed at length in Chapter Six, the important basilica functioned as a pilgrimage church for over a millennium. By the sixteenth century, though, Old St. Peter's was crumbling and in a dire state of disrepair. Pope Julius II, the preeminent art patron of the early sixteenth century, decided to demolish Old St. Peter's to build a new, massive basilica that would symbolize not only the supremacy of the papacy but also the pope's importance. This chapter examines St. Peter's basilica, which would take over a century to complete. Several architects, including Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bernini, would have a hand in the design of the new church. Once completed, the church was decorated with countless artworks, a small fraction of which are discussed in this chapter. For example, Michelangelo's famous Pietà decorates a chapel in the side aisle near the front of the church while Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Tomb of Urban VIII is tucked away in the apse.
Pope Julius II By the beginning of the sixteenth century, the hub of the Renaissance had shifted from Florence to Rome. Immediately upon becoming pope, Julius II set several plans in motion to make Rome the most beautiful and important city in the entire world. As part of his grand design, Pope Julius II envisioned that the Vatican would be a place that symbolized not only his power as a pope, but of the entire papacy, past and future. In his plans for urban renewal, Pope Julius II cleaned up the city of Rome and drove out crime. He then began his plan to beautify Rome and the Vatican, which would show to everyone the importance not only of his city but of the Catholic Church itself. In addition, new building projects,
especially that of New St. Peter’s, would take advantage of the new High Renaissance architectural style. In his ten years as pope, Julius II was a major patron of the arts. He commissioned Donato Bramante to create New St. Peter’s, as will be discussed at length in this chapter. Pope Julius II also brought Michelangelo to Rome to sculpt his monumental tomb project and to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Furthermore, Raphael, a young and up and coming artist, was commissioned to complete the frescoes on the walls of the papal apartment within the Vatican. Upon his death, Pope Julius II had indeed made Rome and the Vatican the most beautiful in the world.
The Architecture of St. Peter's Over 1100 years after Old St. Peter's was built, the church was crumbling and was in bad shape. When Julius II became pope in 1503, the first big project he tackled was what to do with the old basilica. The pope wanted to make changes and initially, instead of building an entirely new basilica, Julius II thought that merely an expansion of the apse would suffice. However, because the pope had grandiose plans to beautify the city of Rome, Julius II quickly realized that an expansion of Old St. Peter's would not be enough. Old St. Peter’s would have to be torn down and a new church would take its place. Pope Julius II wanted to build this new church for several reasons. First, the physical state of Old St. Peter’s was unsatisfactory. Second, Pope Julius II wanted to beautify Rome and aggrandize the papacy. A new, large, stunning church would go a long way towards meeting that goal. Along those same lines, this new church would embody the High Renaissance architectural details. Old St. Peter’s was over a millennium old and Pope Julius II desired a new, vibrant style. Finally, and selfishly, Pope Julius II wanted to create a big, beautiful new St. Peter’s, which would also be the site of the pope’s magnificent tomb that was being designed by Michelangelo. But not everyone agreed with Julius II’s decision to tear down the old church and he was given the nickname, “il maestro ruinate,” or “the master of ruins.” Old St. Peter’s was filled with mosaics, frescoes, and sculptures along with countless tombs of saints and popes. But under Pope Julius II, all the architecture and artworks were razed to the ground. Even the ancient columns were destroyed. Michelangelo himself was critical of the destruction of the old church. The design and construction of New St. Peter’s was anything but simple. Pope Julius II initially commissioned Donato Bramante to create
the plan for the new church, but both the architect and the pope would die before the building was completed. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, spanning both the High Renaissance and Baroque periods, twelve architects had a hand in the design of the church that stands in the Vatican today. Twenty-two popes guided the project along, until Gian Lorenzo Bernini finished the project with his massive Piazza di San Pietro in 1675.
Figure 9.1: Bramante's Plan of St. Peter's. Source: Public Domain.
Bramante, who had become Pope Julius II’s favorite architect, created the first plan of New St. Peter’s (Figure 9.1). Like his Tempietto in Trastevere, the Greek cross shape of St. Peter's was centralized in plan, a fitting shape since this type was traditionally used for a martyrium and the church rested on top of St. Peter’s tomb. Second, utilizing a centralized plan based on a circle was also a reference to the perfection of God since the shape of a circle was viewed as perfect. Bramante’s plan consisted of four massive piers in the center of the Greek cross; these would support a hemispherical dome modeled on the Pantheon. From the center, four arms stretch and end in an apsidal shape; all four of the ends have entrances. At the four corners of the plan were
four bell towers. Between the bell towers and the apses were four chapels that, like the shape of the church itself, were Greek crosses. Construction on Bramante’s plan began in 1506. When Pope Julius II died in 1513 and Bramante the following year, only the four massive piers and the arches spanning them had been built. But these piers would factor into every design of each of the eleven architects that succeeded Bramante in designed St. Peter's. Because Bramante’s plan was never completed, one can only get an idea of what the final project would have looked like by studying the bronze Caradosso medal, which was created in 1506 to commemorate the laying of the first stone of New St. Peter’s. In the medal, the hemispherical dome covers the crossing square and the apses have half domes atop them. The smaller Greek cross chapels, which can be seen beside the large bell towers, would have had small domes atop them. In all aspects of Bramante’s design, the High Renaissance style is evident. As Palladio, the renowned sixteenth century Venetian stated, “Bramante was the first to bring to light good and beautiful architecture which from the time of the ancients, had been forgotten.” These classical details are found throughout the church, as depicted in this medal. The domes, engaged columns, pediments, entablatures all reference Greek and Roman architecture. Not only was Bramante influenced by the Pantheon, but he also looked to the ancient ruins like the Baths of Caracalla for inspiration. These large, soaring structures with their coffered barrel vaults would be ideal for the interior of St. Peter’s. After the deaths of Pope Julius II and Bramante, the initial plan of St. Peter’s was called into question. Should the church retain the original Greek cross plan? Should Bramante’s plan be changed by adding a longitudinal section to it to make it larger? Antonio da Sangallo proposed significant changes in his plan and wooden model of 1539-1546 (Figure 9.2). Bramante’s Greek cross was stretched out to include a longitudinal section consisting of a nave and three side aisles. Two additional bell towers flanked the façade of the church. There was now only one entrance to the basilica, in the front and between those two towers. The Greek cross was somewhat maintained, at least on three sides. Overall, Antonio da Sangallo’s plan greatly increased the area of the basilica to cover twice Bramante’s original plan.
Figure 9.2: Antonio da Sangallo's Design. Source: Public Domain.
In the wooden model, which is still on display in the Museo Petriano in the Vatican, the drastic changes from Bramante’s exterior are evident (remember the Caradosso medal). In Sangallo’s model, there were still plenty of classical features, including arches, engaged columns, pediments, and a dome. But there was also a medieval flare to it, so much so that Michelangelo pejoratively called it “Germanic.” The famous artist also criticized da Sangallo’s plan, saying that it was much too big and would serve in being a den of crime because of its many dark nooks and crannies. Perhaps most importantly for Michelangelo, Antonio da Sangallo’s design just would not do because it was so large the Sistine Chapel would have to be demolished to make way for it. In 1546, Pope Paul III convinced Michelangelo to help design St. Peter's (Figure 9.3). By this time, Michelangelo was an old man of seventy-one and despite initially protesting his involvement, eventually the artist acquiesced, saying that he would continue the design of the church “for the honor of God and for St. Peter.”
Figure 9.3: Michelangelo's Plan of St. Peter's. Source: Public Domain.
While Michelangelo derided Antonio da Sangallo’s plan, he had nothing but praise for Bramante's plan. Despite his love and respect for Bramante’s plan, Michelangelo did indeed change it; he and Bramante had been rivals, after all. In Michelangelo’s plan, the overall area of the basilica was reduced. There was now be only one entrance at the façade and the bell towers were removed. He also added a colonnade at the façade along with a staircase. Bramante's small Greek cross chapels were eliminated. In the end, Michelangelo sought to create a simpler plan that was more unified than Bramante’s. From 1546-1564, the exterior walls of Michelangelo's plan were constructed. The bottom two levels were united by colossal Corinthian pilasters and topped with an entablature and cornice. Between the pilasters are alternating windows and niches, each topped with a pediment or arch. The third, top story was small in height but still covered with pilasters and rectangular windows. By the time Michelangelo died in 1564, these walls were under construction. Bramante’s central piers had been strengthened and arches spanned them. Above the piers, the drum of the dome was completed. Michelangelo also designed the dome (Figure 9.4) of St. Peter’s, which one can still climb today to get a spectacular view of not only the Piazza di San Pietro below, but also of the Tiber River and Rome. By the
time of Michelangelo’s death, only the drum of the dome had been completed. From 1585-1600, during the pontificate of Sixtus V, Giacomo della Porta completed the dome according to Michelangelo’s plan. Like Bramante, Michelangelo would have preferred a hemispherical dome to rest on top of the massive piers, since that would harken back to antiquity and the Pantheon. However, Michelangelo realized that the hemispherical dome was too difficult to construct and thus he created a dome that was slightly pointed. Giacomo della Porta maintained the pointed dome that rests on a large drum, which is decorated with pairs of Corinthian columns and windows. The pointed dome is punctuated with ribs that help to support the weight of the structure, and on top is a large marble lantern.
Figure 9.4: Michelangelo's Dome and Walls of St. Peter's. Source: Public Domain.
By the beginning of the seventeenth century, St. Peter’s basilica was still not completed, though Bramante’s piers, the walls of Michelangelo’s plan, along with the dome, were mostly done. During the pontificate of Paul V (1605-1621), the pope was determined to complete this centurieslong project, but he questioned whether the final design of St. Peter’s basilica should be Michelangelo’s plan, or whether a new revision was necessary. Yet again, the issue was whether to make the church more
longitudinal, as had first been suggested after the death of Bramante almost a century prior. Along with wanting to have a large church that would be the ultimate symbol of the papacy, and one that could accommodate the many pilgrims that would flock there, Pope Paul V also advocated for the extension of the nave so that there would be a greater separation between the clergy and the laity. Because of this, Paul V decided to change Michelangelo’s and Bramante’s plans and utilize a Latin cross that was cruciform in shape. The length of the nave was greatly increased. Michelangelo would not have been pleased with this final revision because his vision of the dome was one that could be appreciated from every angle within the church. With the long nave, it was impossible to see the dome from all areas inside.
Figure 9.5: Carlo Maderno's Plan of St. Peter's. Source: Public Domain.
Pope Paul V hired Carlo Maderno to create the final plan of St. Peter’s (Figure 9.5). Maderno, who was originally from northern Italy, was Rome’s first major Baroque architect. Upon beginning his prestigious commission, Maderno first had to finish what Pope Julius II started: the removal of the entire structure of Old St. Peter’s (not everything had been demolished by the seventeenth century). Maderno then had to follow the pope’s plan for the extension of the nave and added one side aisle on either side. A barrel vault soared above the nave, 46 meters above the inlaid marble floor. Chapels fill the side aisles on either side. The classical style of architecture is still visible throughout, something that Bramante surely would have been pleased with. Colossal Corinthian pilasters, piers,
entablatures, arches, barrel vaults, dome, entablatures, cornices, clerestory windows fill the interior– all these architectural elements harken back to ancient Greece and Rome. The surfaces of the walls, ceiling, and floor are covered with gold, colored marble, stucco, marble sculptures, giving the sense of over-the-top opulence. One can immediately see why Martin Luther and the Protestants would protest the spending in the Catholic Church. The cost of the building of St. Peter’s and its decoration are completely inconceivable.
Figure 9.6: Carlo Maderno's Façade of St. Peter's. Source: Alvesgaspar, 2015.
Along with the plan, Carlo Maderno also designed the final façade of St. Peter’s (Figure 9.6). Michelangelo’s façade had a portico in front of it; Maderno removed this. But Maderno kept the porch with the large flight of stairs, changing the staircase to a trapezoidal shape over Michelangelo’s rectangular one. The decoration of exterior of the façade matched Michelangelo’s walls, thus creating a sense of unity within the basilica. Like those earlier walls, Maderno’s façade consists of three levels. The two lower levels are connected by massive engaged Corinthian columns and pilasters that support an entablature. Between these columns are two levels of windows and niches, some of which are topped with pediments. The smaller top level has square and rectangular windows flanked by engaged Corinthian pilasters. Atop the entablature and cornice are freestanding sculptures of saints. Maderno inserted a Baroque flair to his façade by creating a sense of movement. The façade is not completely flat but instead has columns and entablatures that jut out and recede back. Originally, Maderno planned to have bell towers at either end of the
façade, but after his death, these were never completed. These vertical bell towers would have balanced out the very horizontal façade.
Figure 9.7: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Piazza di San Pietro. Source: Bryan Tong Minh,, 2005.
After Carlo Maderno finished the basilica and façade, Pope Alexander VII commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to create an appropriately monumental approach to St. Peter’s: Piazza di San Pietro (Figure 9.7). In accepting this commission, Bernini had to grapple with a couple of problems. First, new St. Peter’s was the largest church the world had ever seen and thus one difficulty was creating a piazza and space that would appropriately highlight the basilica. In planning, Bernini quickly realized that the piazza, like St. Peter’s itself, would have to be huge. Another reason for the large size of the piazza was that it would need to accommodate the many pilgrims that would gather there to see the Pope. Finally, Bernini had to tackle the problem of the bell towers. Maderno’s two bell towers, had they been built, would have balanced out the horizontal façade. Since they were never built, this left a disproportionately horizontal façade. Bernini wanted to rectify this and he did so by utilizing two shapes within the plan of the piazza. First, nearest the horizontal façade Bernini created a trapezoid, with the longest side
running along the front of the church. The diagonal arms of the trapezoid were lined with Doric pilasters. Connected to this trapezoid was the second shape, an oval, which acted like two arms reaching out to embrace the pilgrim. The arms of the oval were comprised of four rows of colossal Doric colonnades. An ancient obelisk, taken from the nearby Circus of Nero, was reappropriated and erected in the center of the oval, a symbol of Christianity’s defeat of paganism. Flanking the obelisk are two fountains.
Michelangelo’s Pietà Returning to the interior of St. Peter’s, the basilica is a treasure house of artworks, from sculptures and mosaics to the elaborate inlaid marble paneling of the floor. The most famous artwork within St. Peter’s is in a chapel in the side aisle near the front of the nave: Michelangelo’s Pietà (Figure 9.8). Completed in 1500 when the sculptor was only about twentyfive years old, and four years before he would paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the Pietà cemented Michelangelo’s reputation as the leading artist of sixteenth century Rome. Michelangelo received this commission at the beginning of the sixteenth century. A French cardinal in Rome, Jean de Bilheres-Lagraulas, wanted the Pietà to decorate his tomb. The subject of the Pietà was not new; it translates as “pity” or “piety.” Emerging in medieval northern Europe, the Pietà depicts the Virgin Mary holding Christ, her dead son, after he was crucified and subsequently taken down from the cross. In Northern Europe, where the display of emotions was typical, scenes of Pietà were gruesome and pitiful, as is evident in the Rottgen Pietà, a small painted wooden sculpture from 1300-1325. In this earlier version of the subject, the inherent difficulties of the subject are immediately apparent. That is, how does one depict the Virgin Mary comfortably holding her grown son, who is much bigger than she is? In the Rottgen Pietà, there is an extreme awkwardness that accompanies this pair, with the Virgin balancing her large son on her lap. In northern Europe, emotion was often paramount and it is the case in the Rottgen Pietà as well. The wounds of Christ are emphasized, from the spear piercing his side, to the wounds in his palms and feet, to the rivulets of blood that drip down his forehead from the crown of thorns that has been pressed into his head. Furthermore, Christ is clearly dead and the effects of a torturous crucifixion are visible. He is emaciated, with a concave stomach and his ribs jutting out. His body is stiff with rigor mortis and his head is slumped backwards, his eyes closed and his mouth open in death. As for Mary, she is overwhelmed with
her grief and has an anguished expression on her face as she gazes toward her son.
Figure 9.8: Michelangelo, Pietà, 1500. Source: Juan M. Romero, 2012.
Michelangelo's Pietà differs from the Rottgen Pietà in several ways. First, the composition is much more pyramidal. The triangular shape of Mary cradling Christ was the ideal shape in the High Renaissance. Christ too, is different, as his wounds are barely visible and in many cases, are not even there. For example, his hands and feet do not have the puncture wounds and his head does not have the scrapes and blood caused by the crown of thorns. The only visible wound is subtle and one has to look hard to even find it: on Christ’s right side, the wound caused by St. Longinus’ spear is visible. If one did not know, one would think that Christ was merely peacefully sleeping, not dead. His body is not stiff but slumped and languid as if asleep. Furthermore, Christ is not emaciated and we see none of the suffering he would have endured during the crucifixion. Italian art is typically more restrained in nature, reigning in those emotions. Because Christ merely appears sleeping, rather than dead, the viewer is not exposed to the explicit nature of his execution. In addition,
the Virgin Mary, while still grieving, is more restrained and contemplative. She is seated, her face bowed slightly to her son, a veil pulled over her head. Her eyes appear half closed and while the anguished grief of the Rottgen Pietà is not here, the viewer nonetheless is compelled by the Virgin’s quiet, solitary grief. Her right arm holds her son while her left hand is palm up, reaching out to the viewer, inviting him or her to contemplate upon this scene. Another difference, and one that has been stated previously, is the way in which Michelangelo arranged his figures and dealt with the problematic composition of a woman holding her grown son. The Rottgen Pietà has the two figures awkwardly placed. Michelangelo, though, used the stable pyramid to arrange his figures. Mary’s head is the apex of the triangle and her bottom half expands downward. In fact, the Virgin’s body is not proportional. This was not done because of any incompetency on Michelangelo’s part, but because it helped to make a more united and pleasing composition. Mary’s head is small but her torso, and especially her lap, are immense. If she were to stand up, she would be a huge figure. Mary’s lap is full of the undulating folds of her drapery that serve to support the body of Christ. Again, this was deliberate by Michelangelo because he wanted to create a stable base for Jesus. To the left, you can also see a chunk of rock – this is the rock of Golgotha, the site of the crucifixion. One other issue that a viewer might notice is the discrepancy of the ages of these two figures. Mary is the mother of Christ, who died when he was thirty-three years old. If Mary were eighteen when she had her son (and she probably was younger than that), she would be fifty-one. But Michelangelo’s Virgin is young and looks to be in her early twenties. Her face is unlined with no blemishes or wrinkles. After Michelangelo finished the Pietà, viewers of the sixteenth century remarked upon the youth of the Virgin – and Michelangelo, according to Vasari, was quick to defend himself. Like the massive lower half of the Virgin, the age of the mother of Christ was also a deliberate decision. Michelangelo reportedly claimed that a true virgin, like Mary, never loses her youth and never looks old. Michelangelo’s sculpture is unique because it was the only work that he ever signed. On the sash that crosses the Virgin’s chest are the Latin words, “Michael Agelus Bonarotus Florentin Faciebat,” or “Michelangelo Buonarotti of Florence made this.” From Vasari, again, one learns that Michelangelo was once admiring his masterpiece after it had been placed in St. Peter’s basilica. Two Italians from Lombardy, were also viewing the sculpture and praised at as being by one of their own countrymen. Michelangelo, born in Florence, was angry that they did not know that he
was the artist of the sculpture and so in the middle of the night, he snuck into St. Peter’s and inscribed his name and hometown on the sash. Michelangelo’s Pietà was not an unusual subject for the sculptor and he returned to the subject of the Virgin holding her dead son two more times during his lifetime (one is in Milan and the other is in Florence). Both later sculptures experiment with the composition. The Virgin Mary in the unfinished Pietà from Milan is no longer sitting but is standing, trying to hold up her son while the Florence Pietà has the Virgin crouching and includes two additional figures, Joseph and Mary Magdalene. The one in Florence was intended to decorate Michelangelo’s tomb in Santa Croce, but unfortunately never made it there. If Michelangelo were to see his sculpture in St. Peter’s today, he would undoubtedly be displeased and perhaps even angry. First, the sculpture was placed within a gaudy Baroque chapel, with walls of colored marble. Michelangelo would have preferred that his white, marble sculpture had a less ostentatious setting. Certainly, Michelangelo would not like that the sculpture is behind bulletproof glass now, even though it is for its own protection. Because of this glass, the viewer cannot get close to the sculpture nor walk around it to see it from other angles. Finally, the sculpture is placed on a pedestal, which was not the position Michelangelo wanted. This means the Virgin Mary and Christ are placed higher than the sculptor would have liked. The Pietà is now behind glass because of an act of vandalism in 1972 that left Mary missing an arm, eyelids, and a fractured nose. Laszlo Toth, a Hungarian geologist who immigrated to Australia, entered the basilica with his geologist’s hammer concealed. The Pietà was out in the open and vulnerable, and Toth proceeded to take his hammer and smash the sculpture. As he was doing so, he said “Today is my thirty-third birthday, the day when Christ died. For that reason, I smashed the Pietà today. I did it because the mother of God does not exist. I am Christ. I am Michelangelo. I have reached the age of Christ and now I can die.” Onlookers subdued Toth and before he could be formally charged, he had disappeared. He eventually was found in a mental institution in Italy and he was deported back to Australia. As for the Pietà, the sculpture had been considerably damaged. Immediately the Vatican began to restore the sculpture, gathering all the little bits and pieces of marble that had broken off from it. They even used feather dusters to clean up the marble dust and looked in the melted wax of the candles in the chapels to ensure they did not miss anything. A couple of days after the vandalism, a couple of pieces of the broken sculpture were brought forth by contrite tourists, who thought that those bits would be cool souvenirs. Luckily, the restoration
was successful and today when viewing Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the damage is invisible.
Bernini's Baldacchino St. Peter’s Basilica also contains many Baroque masterpieces, including several by Gian Lorenzo Bernini; the artist would work on one project or another in St. Peter’s for fifty years of his life. The famous Baldacchino (Figure 9.9), or canopy, was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII. Maffeo Barberini, who became Pope Urban VIII in 1623, was responsible for giving Bernini some of his most important commissions. Barberini and Bernini were close friends and that relationship continued when the former became pope. Because of these important commissions, Bernini gained notoriety throughout Europe and in turn the artist helped to aggrandize his patron and the papacy through iconography and symbolism. Like rulers and popes before him, Urban VIII utilized art as propaganda. Not only did he want to bring Catholics back into the fold after the Protestant Reformation, but Urban VIII also wanted to legitimize his papacy, since he came from a relatively modest background, was not from Rome, and his family was largely unknown. The Baldacchino serves as a prime example of Urban VIII's propaganda and it is located at the crossing of the nave and transept, directly below Michelangelo’s dome and above the crypt of St. Peter’s tomb. In designing the canopy, Bernini had to contend with the massive space of the church and the Baldacchino’s placement directly underneath Michelangelo’s soaring dome. In addition, Bernini had to respond to the tradition of the canopy itself, which stemmed from Early Christian times. The original St. Peter’s, which was built in the early fourth century CE, included a canopy over the saint’s tomb. The immense Baldacchino was made of bronze taken from the Pantheon; it is estimated that the temple’s pronaos was stripped of 927 tons of bronze. Melted down, the bronze was reappropriated for a new Christian purpose: the beautification of the church and the aggrandizement of the papacy. This reuse of material had special significance because the Catholic church took bronze from a pagan temple, thus symbolizing the conquest of Christianity over paganism.
Figure 9.9: Baldacchino. Source: Public Domain.
Standing almost 30 meters tall, the Baldacchino consists of four massive bronze columns that support a bronze canopy. Each of the four columns are twisted, an homage to the original canopy in Old St. Peter’s, which had this particular type of column. But the derivation of the twisted column comes from an even more ancient source: the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem and thus these columns are connected to both the Old Testament and Constantine. Each of Bernini's columns was hollow and created using the lost wax technique. Because the columns were serving a structural purpose, concrete was poured into the hollow parts so that they would be strong enough to hold up the canopy. The twisting bronze columns rest on marble pedestals, which are decorated with scenes of Pope Urban VIII’s family and the Barberini family crest. Parts of these four columns were gilded while the rest was left a dark bronze color. They are covered with laurel leaves, a symbol of the Barberini family. In addition, Bernini decorated the columns with bees, an insect that was an emblem of the Barberinis and which will be seen again in Bernini’s fountain in the Piazza Barberini. A Barberini sun surmounts each capital. Standing atop each of the four composite order columns is a single angel. Thus, Pope Urban VIII and Bernini were using visual language and propaganda to aggrandize the pope and his family.
The four large, twisting columns support the bronze canopy above. In the Early Christian period, the canopy that stretched across these four columns would have been made of a different material like cloth. Bernini breaks with tradition by creating the canopy from bronze, trying to simulate this light material with the heavy metal. Stretching from each of the four columns, the bronze canopy is decorated with festoons, tassels, and ornamental scrolls that curve upwards, creating a kind of pedestal. Originally, Bernini planned for a sculpture of Christ to be placed at the very top of the canopy. But this was eventually changed, perhaps because of structural concerns, to an orb and a cross, symbolizing the conquest of Christianity throughout the entire world. Finally, angels stand atop the canopy. One of the putti holds a set of keys, which is a traditional iconographic symbol of St. Peter, the first pope. Another angel proffers a papal tiara, thus emphasizing the role of the popes in the Catholic church.
Bernini's St. Longinus As Bernini worked on the Baldacchino, he received another commission from Pope Urban VIII to complete one of the four over-life-size sculptures that decorate the central piers. Michelangelo’s dome rests on the four massive piers that were part of Bramante’s original plan of St. Peter’s. Each of these four piers contained a sculpture of a saint and a relic associated with that saint: Saints Longinus (Figure 9.10), Veronica, Andrew, and Helen. Longinus, who stabbed Christ with a spear during the Passion, contains the relic of the tip of that spear. Veronica, who lent a cloth to Christ to wipe his face with, which then miraculously captured the image of Christ, has a relic of this fabric associated with the sculpture. Helen, the mother of Constantine, has a fragment of the true cross. Finally, the sculpture of Andrew, the brother of St. Peter, has a bit of the skull of Andrew as its relic.
Figure 9.10: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Longinus. Source: Public Domain.
Each of these four sculptures are well over life-size. Out of the four, Bernini is responsible for St. Longinus. This large marble sculpture exhibits the epitome of Baroque art. First, it is placed in a polychrome marble niche (like the other three) that resembles a chapel. With pilasters, an arch, spandrel, and entablature, the niche is classically inspired. A semicircular half dome completes the interior of the niche, along with a concave wall. St. Longinus is placed within this niche. Standing contrapposto, Longinus' arms are outstretched as he looks dramatically upward. Bernini captured Longinus in the most dramatic part of the story: after he stabbed Christ with the spear he holds in his right hand, Longinus realizes what he has done and is ashamed and contrite, for he concludes that Christ is the son of God.
Bernini's Tomb of Urban VIII Continuing down the nave and to the apse, there are two additional Bernini projects, the first of which was again commissioned by Pope Urban VIII: the Tomb of Pope Urban VIII (Figure 9.11). By 1627, when Bernini was already working on both the Baldacchino and St. Longinus, Urban VIII asked his friend to start designing his tomb. Concerned with glorifying
himself, the pope chose St. Peter’s as the setting for his final resting place. The pope's tomb was also placed in the most important part of the church: the apse, just to the right of the Chair of St. Peter. Bernini worked on this project for the next two decades, completing the tomb in 1647, a full three years after Pope Urban VIII’s death.
Figure 9.11: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Tomb of Urban VIII. Source: Public Domain.
In constructing the tomb, Bernini drew from High Renaissance sources, including Michelangelo’s tombs of the Medici in the Medici Chapel in San Lorenzo in Florence. In both these earlier tombs, Michelangelo created a dramatic triangular composition consisting of a horizontal sarcophagus as the base, two reclining and sloping figures that comprise the sides of the triangle, and a vertical sculpture at the apex of the triangle. But Bernini is a product of the Baroque age, a time of dynamism and theatricality, and thus he takes Michelangelo’s influence and inserts it with all the drama of the age. Like Michelangelo’s tombs, Bernini also created a pyramidal composition with the sarcophagus, two side figures, and a bronze sculpture of the pope at the top. Pope Urban VIII, seated on a marble pedestal, is placed in a position of absolute authority at the top and he wears his papal
regalia and a tiara. He holds his right arm forward in a sign of blessing. Below Urban VIII is the pope’s bronze sarcophagus, which is inscribed with his name. A skeleton emerges from the sarcophagus, a momento mori; he holds the scroll that bears Urban VIII’s name, along with the iconic Barberini bees, which can be seen throughout the tomb. There are two marble sculptures flanking the sides of the sarcophagus. These women are allegorical figures of Charity and Justice. On the left, Charity looks beseechingly up at Urban VIII while she holds a sleeping baby. On the other side is Justice, who holds her sword and scale. The entire tomb is a combination of materials, with bronze, white marble, and polychrome marble, creating a feast for the eyes.
Bernini's Chair of St. Peter To the left of the Tomb of Urban VIII is another Bernini project: the Chair of St. Peter (Figure 9.12), or Cathedra Petri. Commissioned by Alexander VII, who hired Bernini to create the grand entrance to St. Peter’s in 1656, the pope also simultaneously requested that the artist create this project. Placed at the direct center of the nave, the Chair of St. Peter was assigned this prime location because of its importance. This project was to create an appropriately significant setting for the ancient wooden chair that was used by St. Peter (though it has been determined that this chair dates to the eighth century CE). The chair and the symbolism that Bernini used in this project was meant to aggrandize the papacy and the church; Alexander VII clearly was continuing the propagandistic tradition of leaders and popes before him, like Urban VIII. Like the Tomb of Urban VII, Bernini created a dramatic pyramidal composition, combining a plethora of materials including bronze, marble, jasper, stone, and iron, and glass. The base of the triangle is made of polychrome marble and it is here that there are four sculptures of the four fathers of the church: Saints Ambrose and Augustine, of the western church, stand on the left while Saints Athanasius and John Chrysostom, fathers of the eastern church, are on the right. These four figures, all staunch supporters of the papacy, standing at the base, support the chair of St. Peter that rises to the top of the pyramidal composition. The original wooden chair has been encased in bronze. Small putti surround the chair and hold symbols like the papal tiara and the keys of St. Peter. Above this pyramidal composition is a dramatic sculptural group, in the middle of which is glass with the Dove of the Holy Spirit in the middle. This is the sun and has rays of bronze light emerging from it, along with clouds and
angels. The group symbolizes the glory of heaven, and that in the end, the papacy and church are led by heaven.
Figure 9.12: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Chair of St. Peter. Source: D. Gayo, 2005.
Sources Augenti, Andrea. Rome: Art and Archaeology. Florence: Scala, 2007. Borsi, Franco. Bernini. New York City: Rizzoli, 1984. Grimal, Pierre. Churches of Rome. Paris: Vendome Press, 1997. Harris, Ann Sutherland. Seventeenth-Century Art and Architecture. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd., 2005. Hartt, Frederick and David G. Wilkins. History of Italian Renaissance Art. Seventh edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2011. Haskell, Francis. Patrons and Painters: A Study in the Relations Between Italian Art and Society in the Age of the Baroque. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980. Hersey, George L. High Renaissance Art in St. Peter’s and the Vatican. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993. Hibbard, Howard. Bernini. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1966. —. Michelangelo. 2nd ed. 1985
Lavin, Irving. Bernini and the Crossing of St. Peter’s. New York: New York University Press, 1968. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Male, Emile. The Early Christian Churches of Rome. London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1960. Marder, Tod A. Bernini and the Art of Architecture. New York: Abbeville Press 1998. Scotti, R.A. Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter’s. Souvenir: London, 2007. Wittkower, Rudolf. Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600-1750. Volumes 13. 4th edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.
CHAPTER TEN PIAZZA DELLA REPUBBLICA AND THE QUIRINAL HILL
Introduction This chapter explores many of the artistic masterpieces within the vicinity of the Piazza della Repubblica and the Quirinal Hill. Atop the Viminal Hill, the Piazza della Repubblica is a large, busy traffic circle with a fountain decorated with naiads in the center. Originally connected with an ancient Roman aqueduct, at the end of the nineteenth century Pope Pius IX commissioned Alessandro Guerrieri to create the fountain. On the northeast side of the Piazza della Repubblica is Santa Maria degli Angeli, which was built on top of the ancient ruins of the Baths of Diocletian. Further northwest of the Piazza della Repubblica, just off Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, is the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, the home of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s famous Cornaro Chapel. San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane is also nearby, a Baroque church designed by Bernini’s contemporary, Francesco Borromini. Down the block from San Carlo is yet another Bernini masterpiece, the small Jesuit church of Sant’ Andrea al Quirinale. Finally, circling back to the Piazza della Repubblica, no visit to Rome is complete without going to Stazione Termini, the major train terminal of Rome. Named after the Baths of Diocletian (thermae), which are close to Termini, the original train station was designed in the middle of the nineteenth century, though this was later demolished in the middle of the twentieth century so that a new structure could be built. In constructing Termini, architects preserved parts of the original station along with sections of the Servian Wall from the Republican period; some of these bits are visible in the McDonald’s of the train station, with history and consumerism colliding unexpectedly.
Santa Maria degli Angeli (Baths of Diocletian) Opposite the Via Nazionale at the Piazza della Repubblica is the large church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, or St. Mary of the Angels. This church was constructed over the ancient ruins of the Baths of Diocletian (Figure 10.1) and it incorporated some of the earlier ancient architecture into its present structure. Today, a visit to Santa Maria degli Angeli offers a rare glimpse of what a Roman thermae complex would have looked like. Begun by Maxentius in the late third century CE, the Baths were ultimately named after Diocletian, the emperor who created the tetrarchy. The Baths of Diocletian were the largest of the 900 or so thermae within the city of Rome. Measuring approximately 356 meters long by 316 meters wide, the Baths of Diocletian got its water from the Aqua Iovia via the Aqua Marcia aqueduct.
Figure 10.1: Plan of the Baths of Diocletian. Source: Public Domain.
The plan of the Baths of Diocletian is typical of a bathing complex, with a central axis that contain the three most important pools along with an open-air swimming pool called a natatio. First, the bather would have
Piazza della Repubblica and the Quirinal Hill
started in the apodyterium, which is like a present-day locker room. This is where you would remove your clothes, as everyone would bathe nude. Next, the nude bather would first enter the frigidarium within the Baths of Diocletian; this pool was filled with cold water. Then one would enter the other two interior pools, each of which had water that got progressively warmer. Other rooms were placed symmetrically along this central room, including palestrae, or gyms, for exercising. When the Goths invaded Rome in 410 CE, the Baths of Diocletian were soon reduced to ruins due to the destruction of the Aqua Maria aqueduct. Without this important source of water, the Baths of Diocletian was no longer operational. Over the next several centuries, some of the building materials remaining in the ruins were removed, but there were still some parts of the original Baths of Diocletian remaining in 1561 when Pope Pius IV commissioned Michelangelo to design Santa Maria degli Angeli. Michelangelo incorporated some of the remaining sections of the baths into the church. For example, the axis from the entrance to the altar corresponds to the main axis of the Baths of Diocletian, which contained the frigidarium, tepidarium, and caldarium. Furthermore, eight of the original red granite Corinthian columns from the thermae were utilized in the interior of Santa Maria degli Angeli while the original groin vaults were strengthened and reconstructed. Santa Maria degli Angeli was completed in 1568, after Michelangelo’s death. In the eighteenth century, Luigi Vanvitelli redesigned parts of the church, disrupting Michelangelo’s original concept. First and foremost, Vanvitelli changed the orientation of the church. In Michelangelo’s design, the central axis corresponded to the altar to the entrance. But Vanvitelli moved the entrance to the southwest side and thus Michelangelo’s central nave became a transept. In addition, Vanvitelli added a Baroque façade to the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
Urban Planning in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries After the Sack of Rome in 410 CE, Rome lost much of its status. But during the Middle Ages, Rome continued to remain relevant because it was the seat of the Catholic Church and papacy. By the Renaissance, Rome was ready to reclaim its supremacy and the papacy utilized urban planning as a method of proclaiming the superiority of the city and the greatness of the Catholic Church. The Renaissance was a period of renewed interest in the classical world and so the popes reconstructed and restored ancient structures like aqueducts, fountains, and various monuments. In addition, because an increasing number of pilgrims made
visits to the Eternal City, Rome had to facilitate their easy visiting of the city's most important churches of Rome. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, new roads were constructed in Rome to highlight the city’s greatness. For example, Pope Pius V opened the Strada Pia, which today is called the Via del Quirinale – XX Settembre. This boulevard ran from the Quirinal Hill to the section of the Aurelian Wall; the Strada Pia was mostly for show though, as it was constructed mainly to impress. In the late sixteenth century, Pope Sixtus V commissioned Domenico Fontana to connect the seven most important pilgrimage churches of Rome. As opposed to the Strada Pia, these roads served a specific purpose and would aid pilgrims in their visits. In creating this new urban plan, Domenico Fontana incorporated the earlier Strada Pia into his design.
Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria Carlo Maderno, the final architect of St. Peter’s, was responsible for the initial design of the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria (1610-1612). About ten years later, from 1625-1630, G.B. Soria designed the façade of the church, which was funded by Cardinal Scipione Borghese. In the midseventeenth century (1647-1651), Bernini created one of the finest examples of the bel composto, or unification of the arts, in the Cornaro Chapel (Figure 10.2) within Santa Maria della Vittoria. Bel composto translates as "beautiful whole" and it represents the perfect union of the arts of sculpture, painting, and architecture. Bernini believed that a combination of the three major arts was more complex and meaningful than any one of these merely on its own. During the Baroque period, Bernini fused the arts into a beautiful whole in a series of chapels in churches of Rome; this chapter discusses two of these chapels. Commissioned by Cardinal Federico Cornaro, who died in 1653, the Cornaro Chapel takes its patron's name and functioned as a memorial chapel for the cardinal's Venetian family, which had produced six cardinals and a doge. During his career, Federico Cornaro was closely associated with the Discalced Carmelites, a branch of the Carmelite order of nuns founded by St. Teresa of Avila and thus he dedicated this chapel to the order's founder. St. Teresa was born in Avila, Spain in 1515 and at fifteen she was sent to a convent of Augustinian nuns. She secretly joined a Carmelite convent, against her father's wishes, and took her vows in 1536. An influential theologian, Teresa wrote for her numerous books on mysticism; she was famous for her mystical experiences. By the age of thirty-nine, she was
Piazza della Repubblica and the Quirinal Hill
known to levitate, often during mass. Teresa died in 1582 and was canonized in 1622.
Figure 10.2: The Cornaro Chapel, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1647-1651. Source: livioandronico2013, 2015.
The Cornaro Chapel is located just left of the high altar within Santa Maria della Vittoria. The focal point of the chapel is the marble sculpture of The Ecstasy of St. Teresa, which Bernini based on Teresa's own writings and descriptions of her mystical experiences. St. Teresa reclines on a cloud with her head tilted, her lips parted, and her eyes closed; her face is erotically charged as she receives god's love, delivered by a beautiful angel who is about to pierce Teresa's heart with an arrow of divine love. Teresa's entire body is covered with folds of massive drapery, except for her left arm and leg, which dangle. Her bare foot is a reminder that she is a member of the Discalced Carmelite order, who has devoted her life to helping others, even if it means that she cannot properly clothe herself. Undulating with concave and convex curves, the cloud that holds Teresa and the angel projects into the viewer's space.
Rays of gilded bronze fall on the two sculptures, lit from above by a concealed window. This light was a symbol of God's divine love and wisdom, but the light itself, coming from an actual window, is thus unpredictable and fleeting. In the vault above this sculptural scene, narrative relief carvings flank a fresco scene. These gold-painted stucco relief sculptures depict scenes from the life of St. Teresa. At the left is a scene from Teresa's childhood. After reading the lives of the saints, Teresa and her brother set out to travel the land of the Moors, where they believed they would find martyrdom. They did not get far, however, because their uncle stopped them at the city gate. To the right of the window is a scene which shows Teresa kneeling and praying. On the left of the vault is a scene of one of Teresa's visions. Finally, a fourth scene depicts Christ taking Teresa as his wife. In these reliefs, there is no reference to the miracles Teresa performed or her founding of the Discalced Carmelites. In place of her good deeds, Teresa's strong inner faith and devotion are emphasized. These are arranged chronologically, from left to right, and reflect important moments in the saint's spiritual growth. Above the stucco reliefs is a fresco of the white dove and Holy Spirit surrounded by angels playing instruments and throwing flowers. In the middle of the vault is a fresco by Guidobaldo Abbatini, which depicts the dove of the Holy Spirit with its wings outstretched and beams of light radiating from it. Surrounding the dove are painted angels on clouds. Stucco clouds cover the painting, blurring the line between the two art forms of painting and sculpture. On the side walls are sculpted memorials of the Cornaro family; all witness the scene of the ecstasy of St. Teresa. The family members are placed in a theater-like location, which resemble the private galleries that were sometimes found along the nave in churches. Appropriately, the perspective behind the figures appears to be the nave of a church, with its barrel vault supported by Ionic columns. In the relief sculpture on the right, four of the Cornaro family members are present. The man on the left looks outward toward the altar while the other three converse with one another, most likely discussing the event that is taking place in front of them. The sculpture on the left likewise has four men. In this one, two men look outward while two are reading. In both relief sculptures, the men are highly individualized. All of them serve as witnesses to St. Teresa's ecstasy, in the process of watching, reading, or discussing the scene before them. The entire chapel is unified by a common theme: the divine love of god. Teresa is pierced by the arrow of god's love and through her
Piazza della Repubblica and the Quirinal Hill
illumination, she is united with god. In the vault, there are various depictions of Teresa's love and devotion for god, all of which lead up to her communion with him. The boxes on the walls, with the eight members of the Cornaro family, show figures who witness this divine love, thereby connecting with the sculpture and the vault.
San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane Francesco Borromini, the architect of Sant' Ivo alla Sapienza, got his first solo religious commission in 1634 when the Trinitarian order asked him to design a new church, San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (Figure 10.3), or St. Carl of the Four Fountains. When he started, Borromini had to contend with several restrictions that the site presented. First, the church was at the intersection of two streets. At each of the four corners of the intersection there were four existing fountains. San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane was situated at the corner of one of these streets, next to one of these fountains. Therefore, Borromini had to contend with incorporating the fountain into his design, since essentially one corner of the church would be curtailed due to the fountain. Second, the site was small and thus the church of San Carlo could not be very large. The façade of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane consists of two stories that are equal in height. Each story is divided into three bays by large Corinthian columns. Within each of the individual bays, small Corinthian colonettes flank windows and niches. On the bottom level, the door to the church is in the central bay while the two bays flanking it have oval windows. In the second part of the first level, above the doors and window are niches filled with sculptures. A large entablature topped with a projecting cornice divides the two stories of the church. The second story has a similar format, with a large window in the center bay while the two side-bays contain niches. Above the central window is a large coat of arms. At the left corner, the fountain is visible and is decorated with the pagan god Neptune, who is recumbent and holds an overflowing cornucopia in his left arm. Nude from the waist up and bearded, this is the Roman god of the sea. (This god is also identified as a personification of the Arno River, which flows through Florence.)
Figure 10.3: San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. Source: Architas, 2018.
Francesco Borromini's design of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane contains many characteristics of Roman Baroque architecture. Mainly, he is interested in drama and chiaroscuro. Usually, the façade of a church is flat. But with San Carlo, Borromini wanted to express the dynamism of the Baroque through the alternating concave and convex curves of the façade, which undulates with movement. The two side-bays are concave while the central bay is convex. With the curving nature of this façade, along with the niches, columns and colonettes, there is also a strong interplay between light and dark, as the sunlight illuminates those portions sticking out while shadows are in the areas shrinking back. The chiaroscuro and movement of the façade was a deliberate choice and adheres to the seventeenth century Baroque ideals. The interior of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane consists of an oval plan, the best shape for this irregular site. The oval, since it is based on a circle, also has symbolic meaning, referring to the perfection of God. The short end of the oval aligns with the façade of the church. On the inside, there are three altars, one at the far end and two on either side. Along the walls, sixteen engaged columns support the drum of an oval dome. Inside, Borromini uses the same concave and convex curves to create movement.
Piazza della Repubblica and the Quirinal Hill
Decorating the walls are a series of equilateral triangles, a shape that is a symbol of the Holy Trinity.
Sant' Andrea al Quirinale Just down the road from San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane is the Jesuit church of Sant' Andrea al Quirinale (Figure 10.4). As the name suggests, Sant' Andrea is on the Quirinale Hill, the seat of Roman government. The Jesuits, with the permission of Pope Alexander VII, commissioned Bernini to design San Andrea and work began in 1658. Much of the materials were procured and paid for by Prince Camillo Pamphili. A devout man, and because of his respect for the Jesuit order, Bernini did not ask for a fee.
Figure 10.4: Sant' Andrea al Quirinale. Source: Architas, 2018.
Like Borromini with San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Bernini had to contend with a difficult and small site. Bernini wanted to create an impressive and grand church, but the space was limited. The small façade reflects the spatial limitations, as while it is rather tall the width is minimal. A large, hemispherical staircase welcomes the visitor as it
extends into his or her space; the bottom step stretches from one side of the façade to the other. On the top of the flight of stairs is a central door flanked by two composite freestanding columns, an order that combines Ionic volute scrolls with acanthus vines. The columns support a curving entablature that echoes the convex curve of the staircase below. On top of the entablature is a coat of arms. The rest of the façade is simple and classically inspired. Mimicking a Roman triumphal arch or temple, at the ends of the façade are two colossal engaged composite pilasters that “support” another entablature, above which is a triangular pediment. Between the two pilasters and below the pediment are spandrels. Though not as dramatic as San Carlo, Sant' Andrea also utilizes undulating forms in its façade. Each of the composite pilasters protrudes from the façade, creating a slight sense of movement. Likewise, the porch and entablature, with their convex curve, create a sense of dynamism that is a characteristic of the Baroque period. Like San Carlo, the plan of Sant' Andrea al Quirinale is oval, utilized here for a similar purpose: the limited amount of space that Bernini had to work with. The short end of the oval corresponds to the façade. On the inside, the main altar, which is dedicated to St. Andrew, is directly across from the entrance. Throughout the rest of the church are a series of chapels. The Jesuits wanted five altars and a pentagon plan of the church, but Bernini convinced his patrons to utilize an oval plan, which had become more popular during the Baroque period. In Bernini's completed plan, the longitudinal axis runs parallel to the street while the shorter axis across the oval is from the entrance to the altar; usually this would have been reversed. Bernini placed four chapels at the far ends of the oval. This oval plan was appropriate for Sant' Andrea al Quirinale, which was a shallow and constricted site, more wide than deep. Echoing the shape of the church, Bernini incorporated a flattened dome. Entering the church, one is immediately struck with the open and airy space Bernini created, which is enhanced by the pervasive light that streams in. Warm-hued red and white marble dominates the lower part of the walls while the upper portions are blue and the floor is grey. The main altarpiece (Figure 10.5) is framed by polychrome composite capitals within the deep apse. Placed in the niche is a painting by Gugliemo Cortese, The Crucifixion of St. Andrew. While not painted by Bernini, the renowned artist directed Cortese in this project. The subject of St. Andrew is appropriate, since the church is dedicated to this saint, who was a fisherman who became one of the apostles and went onto preach the gospel of Christ in Thrace and Scythia. After he was arrested by the
Piazza della Repubblica and the Quirinal Hill
Roman proconsul, Andrew was tortured and crucified. As a missionary apostle and saint, Andrew was popular figure of the Jesuits, who also were missionaries. Just like Andrew, the Jesuits wanted to bring souls into the Catholic Church, especially after the Protestant Reformation.
Figure 10.5: Main Altarpiece, Sant' Andrea al Quirinale. Source: Erik Drost, 2010.
In Cortese's painting, Andrew hangs from the cross, looking upward in agony. His executioners position the cross while people look on. Above the painting are gilded bronze statues of angels and putti, along with gilded rays of light. Bernini placed a hidden window above this section of gilded bronze, allowing for a warm and mysterious light to illuminate the altarpiece. Breaking through the pediment at the base of the dome is a sculpture of St. Andrew, which was designed by Antonio Raggi. Resting on a cloud of stucco, Andrew is depicted gazing upward with his arms outstretched. Around the base are additional figures of angels and fishermen. His earthly self, represented in the painting below, has been killed but his spiritual embodiment, represented by this sculpture, soars to his heavenly reward: his eternal union with god.
Stazione Termini In any trip to Rome, one will inevitably find themselves at Stazione Termini, the main railway station of the city. With a connection to the Metro below along with a train out to Fiumicino airport, Termini is bustling and chaotic, even in the middle of the week. Amidst the crowds,
one probably does not look around and take in the architecture, and the ancient ruins that have been worked into the design.
Figure 10.6: Facade of the first Stazione Termini, circa 1890. Source: Public Domain.
Stazione Termini was first opened by Pope Pius IX shortly after the unification of Italy, in 1863 (Figure 10.6). Because of its proximity to the Baths of Diocletian (thermae), the railway was named Termini. A more permanent railway station, designed by Salvatore Bianchi, was designed a few years later and was finished in 1874. But this was demolished to make way for the new Termini, the one standing today, which was constructed during the reign of the fascists in 1937 and they wanted the terminal to be open in time for the World's Fair in Rome in 1943. The fascists praised modernity and therefore several train stations were built throughout Italy to make travel fast and easy. Mussolini famously quipped that he made the trains run on time in Italy. In addition, it was a way to unite a country, especially when fascism wanted fervent devotion to their cause. The economy was also boosted through construction and linking of the country.
Piazza della Repubblica and the Quirinal Hill
Figure 10.7: Stazione Termini. Source: Hide1228, 2017.
Mussolini awarded the commission to design the new Termini (Figure 10.7) to Angiolo Mazzoni; the architect had already designed several other railway stations in Italy and thus came to the project experienced and knowledgeable. His first plan for the station, though, was outright rejected by Mussolini because the dictator did not think it was big enough. Going back to the drawing board, Mazzoni's second plan of 1938 was accepted. But because of World War II, the execution of Benito Mussolini, and the end of fascism, work ceased in 1943. After World War II, additional architects collaborated to create the station seen today, which opened in 1950. Made of concrete, Carrara marble, steel, and glass, Termini communicates that Rome is a modern, viable city. A huge, open atrium sits in the center, influenced by the large unvaulted spaces of Roman baths. And do not miss the remains of the Servian Wall, which can still be seen in the McDonald's of Termini.
Sources Augenti, Andrea. Rome: Art and Archaeology. Florence: Scala, 2007. Bailey, Gauvin Alexander. Between Renaissance and Baroque: Jesuit Art in Rome, 1565-1610. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003. Coarelli, Filippo. Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide. Translated by James J. Clauss and Daniel P. Harmon. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.
Harris, Ann Sutherland. Seventeenth-Century Art and Architecture. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd., 2005. Hibbard, Howard. Bernini. New York: Penguin Books, 1965. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Magnuson, Torgil. Rome in the Age of Bernini. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wilsell International, 1961. Martin, John Rupert. Baroque. New York: Harper and Row, 1977. Menes, Julia C. “Bernini’s Contribution to the Bel Composto.” Senior thesis, Loyola University Chicago, 2001. Morrissey, Jake. The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry that Transformed Rome. New York: HarperCollins, 2009. Painter, Borden W. Mussolini’s Rome: Rebuilding the Eternal City. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005. Ward-Perkins, J.B. Roman Imperial Architecture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981. Wittkower, Rudolf. Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600-1750. Volumes 13. 4th edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.
CHAPTER ELEVEN THE GALLERIA BORGHESE
Introduction This chapter examines the artistic masterpieces within the Galleria Borghese, a museum nestled within the verdant Villa Borghese, Rome’s largest and most popular park. The Galleria Borghese houses some of the most famous Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces, including several Raphael and Caravaggio paintings along with iconic sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The artworks of the Galleria Borghese were originally part of Cardinal Scipione Borghese’s private collection during the Baroque period. During the twentieth century, the former villa was turned over to the Italian State, which then transformed the collection into the presentday public museum.
The Villa Borghese Just north of the Aurelian wall is the glorious Villa Borghese, Rome’s most popular public park. There are four entrances to the sprawling park, the most popular of which is adjacent to the Piazzale Flaminio near the Piazza del Popolo. Verdant with trees and decorated with sculptures, the Villa Borghese offers a respite from the congested streets of Rome. The Villa Borghese was founded in the late seventeenth century by Pope Paul V’s nephew, Cardinal Scipione Borghese. An art lover, Scipione Borghese amassed a huge collection of paintings and sculptures that were housed in his grand villa. In the eighteenth century, Prince Marcantonio Borghese hired Jacob More, a Scottish designer, to create the elaborate gardens of the Villa Borghese. In the nineteenth century, the gardens were expanded. The State got control of the Villa at the beginning of the twentieth century and quickly turned the gardens over to the city of Rome, who then in turn opened them to the public. Today the sprawling Villa Borghese is home not only to these wonderful gardens but also to some of the most important museums of
Rome. Cardinal Scipione Borghese’s art collection was transformed into the Galleria Borghese. The Villa Giulia Museum is also within the gardens of the Villa Borghese and it is devoted solely to Etruscan art. In addition, the Villa Borghese is home to the National Gallery of Modern Art, which houses an important collection of nineteenth and twentieth century Italian art.
The Galleria Borghese The Galleria Borghese (Figure 11.1) is the home of Cardinal Scipione Borghese’s art collection. In the early seventeenth century, Borghese commissioned artists and collected Renaissance masterpieces. Family members expanded this collection in the ensuing centuries. Unfortunately, many of the sculptures from the Borghese collection are no longer within the Galleria Borghese. In 1807, Camillo Borghese sold a large portion of these sculptures to Napoleon; Borghese was married to Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon’s sister. These sculptures subsequently became a part of the Louvre.
Figure 11.1: Galleria Borghese. Source: Alessio Damato, 2007.
Even with the loss of these sculptures, today the Galleria Borghese contains an unrivalled collection of Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces. Other artistic periods are represented, as is clear when entering Room I of the ground floor. In the center of this gallery is a marble sculpture of Pauline Borghese (née Bonaparte) reclining on a
The Galleria Borghese
couch (Figure 11.2). Dating to 1805-1808, this sculpture is attributed to the Italian Neoclassical master, Antonio Canova.
Figure 11.2: Antonio Canova, Pauline Borghese, 1805-1808. Source: Public Domain.
The Neoclassical movement was prevalent in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Inspired by the rediscovery of antiquity at sites like Pompeii and Herculaneum, Neoclassical artists were greatly influenced by the art and architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. In addition, Neoclassicism was born of out of the Enlightenment, which valued rationality and viewed humanity optimistically. The leading artist of the Neoclassical movement in Italy was Antonio Canova. As a former Inspector General of Antiquities and Fine Art of the Papal States, Antonio Canova had unlimited access to the collection of art within the Vatican. Much of the art, which was discussed in Chapter Eight, included Roman statues. Thus, Canova came into direct contact with many of the newly discovered sculptures and artifacts. But like the Romans’ infatuation with ancient Greek art and architecture, Canova did not merely create copies of classical sculptures. He was deeply influenced by
antiquity but strove to create something that was new while at the same time would fit right in with these ancient works. Canova was a popular artist of the Neoclassical period and was commissioned to create portraits of many of the leading figures of the day. Often, Canova represented contemporary individuals in ancient dress. This is the case with his portrait of Pauline Borghese, who is depicted as Venus Victrix, or Venus Victorious. Pauline is recumbent on a couch, gracefully posed. Her right arm is propped on the back of the couch as the fingers of her right hand extend to the side of her head, gently touching tendrils of hair. Pauline’s hair is drawn into a knot, with some locks falling, and is reminiscent of ancient sculptures of Greek goddesses and Roman empresses. A slight smile is on her classicizing face as Pauline looks off to the distance, almost as if someone has just entered the room and she is sizing him or her up. Her left hand rests on her left leg; her hand grasps an apple. Symbolic of the apple of discord, this piece of fruit references the famous mythological tale of the Judgment of Paris; the young mortal had to choose the most beautiful goddess out of Venus, Minerva, and Juno. Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, won and as a reward to Paris, she introduced Helen to him and the Trojan War began. Like famous ancient sculptures of the goddess (from the Venus de Milo to the Venus of Knidos), Pauline is shown semi-nude with drapery covering the lower half of her body, leaving her chest and torso bare. Originally, Canova wanted Pauline to be in the guise of Diana, the virginal goddess of the hunt, but she would have been chastely clothed. Because of this, Pauline refused to be depicted as Diana and insisted that she be depicted as Venus. This guise was fitting for Pauline, the sister of Napoleon and wife of Camillo Borghese, because she had a scandalous reputation of promiscuity. She courted controversy and being in the guise of a semi-nude Venus would have delighted her. Ultimately, Canova sculpted Pauline as Venus, not only because of Pauline’s persuasive insistence on it, but more likely due to propagandistic reasons. The Borghese family connected their lineage to one of the legendary founders of ancient Rome, Aeneas. According to Virgil’s Aeneid, Aeneas was the son of Venus. Therefore, Pauline in the guise of Venus subtly alluded to the divine lineage of the Borghese family. When the sculpture of Pauline Borghese as Venus Victrix was unveiled, it created a scandal, as expected. Even though the work was designed for a private setting and only an elite audience would have been granted access to view this work, the lewd sculpture of Pauline Borghese nevertheless reinforced the rumors of her promiscuity. Camillo Borghese,
The Galleria Borghese
Pauline’s husband, flatly refused to allow the sculpture to leave his home and Napoleon wholeheartedly agreed. Moving along within the Galleria Borghese, there are several sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the undisputed master of the Roman Baroque. Bernini is omnipresent in the Eternal City from the Four Rivers Fountain of Piazza Navona to the Piazza di San Pietro. Bernini, a child prodigy, typified the Baroque style of the seventeenth century. Like his contemporary Caravaggio, Bernini had a highly naturalistic style, focused on theatricality, and emphasized the most dramatic moment of the story. While Rome was his home, Bernini was a widely sought after artist and received commissions from Europe’s leading rulers and aristocrats. Bernini’s father, Piero, was also a successful sculptor. By the age of ten, Piero introduced his son to Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who would become one of the artist’s great patrons. Rooms II, III, and IV have three of Scipione Borghese’s artistic commissions, sculpted by Bernini. In the Galleria Borghese today, each of these three sculptures are placed within the center of the room, though originally their placement would have been more dramatic, as Bernini was attempting to heighten the suspense of these works. In the center of Room II is Bernini’s famous sculpture of the David (Figure 11.3) from 1623-1624. Made of marble, Bernini’s David is lifesize and it presents a different version from the earlier Renaissance masterpieces of the same subject by Michelangelo and Donatello. In both earlier works, David is depicted nude, standing in a contrapposto pose. Donatello’s David portrays the moments after the biblical hero, David, defeats the giant, Goliath; Goliath’s decapitated head is below David’s foot. In Michelangelo’s famous statue, David holds the slingshot in one hand and a stone in the other as he sizes up his opponent, Goliath, who must stand off into the distance. Undeniably, all three sculptures share a naturalistic style. But Bernini’s David represents a departure from the logical, restrained Italian Renaissance style. Bernini’s David does not merely stand looking at his opponent or standing on his head – he is instead in action. The Baroque version represents the qualities that epitomize that style: dynamism, action, theatricality, and drama. The sculpture in the Galleria Borghese also depicts a different, more dramatic part of the story. David is shown in action, his body winding up as he prepares to launch the stone at Goliath. Accordingly, David’s body and face reflects the tension and stress of his actions. The body is taut and clenched, all his muscles flexing. David’s face, too, is not calm and placid but deep in concentration, biting his lower lip and furrowing his brows as
he prepares to throw the stone at Goliath. Some even claim that the face of David is a self-portrait of Bernini himself.
Figure 11.3: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, David, 1623-1624. Source: Jk1677, 2015.
The twisting, dramatic posture is far removed from the contrapposto pose of Michelangelo’s and Donatello’s Davids. This complex pose is influenced by an ancient Greek sculpture of the Late Classical period: Myron’s famed Diskobolus. Like the discus thrower, David’s body is like a corkscrew, about to unwind. With this complex pose, Bernini shows the viewer the most dramatic part of the story, the moment that David is about to throw the stone. The viewer also participates in this scene, something that was not a part of either of the Renaissance sculptures. Standing before Bernini’s sculpture, one gets the sense that they are right in front of Goliath and that we must duck because David is about to forcefully throw the stone. Another difference between Bernini’s David and the earlier versions is the underlying meaning. The sculptures of Michelangelo and Donatello were both made in Florence; Donatello’s was a private sculpture for the Medici family and Michelangelo’s was a public commission in which the sculpture was eventually placed outside the Palazzo Vecchio. In Florence, the David was used as a symbol of the city. Florence, like David, was an underdog as it prepared to go to war with the mightier Milan. But
The Galleria Borghese
Florence, like David, defeated the mightier opponent through their wits. Cardinal Scipione Borghese of Rome commissioned Bernini to create this sculpture of the David in the seventeenth century, a vastly different time and place. In the seventeenth century, the Catholic Church was involved in the Counter Reformation, trying to persuade those who had become Protestants back into the fold. The Catholic Church used art to persuade people to return. Bernini’s David is a symbol of the fight between the Catholic Church and the Protestants. Catholicism, like David, will ultimately triumph over Protestantism, or Goliath. Room III houses another Bernini masterpiece: Apollo and Daphne from 1622-1625 (Figure 11.4). Like the David, Apollo and Daphne was commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese and it is a marble, life-size sculpture. But Apollo and Daphne depicts a mythological, not religious, subject matter. According to Ovid’s Metamorphoses of the early first century CE, Apollo, the god of light and reason, pursued the woodland nymph, Daphne. Apollo always made fun of Cupid, the angelic, pudgy child of Venus. Cupid plotted his revenge and shot a lead-pointed arrow at Daphne, which repelled love, and a gold-tipped arrow at Apollo, intended to incite love. Thus, Apollo fell helplessly in love (and lust) with Daphne, who wanted nothing to do with the god. Daphne ran away, trying to escape the unwanted advances of Apollo. As she ran, Daphne prayed to her river godfather, Peneus, to help her by changing and destroying her body. Peneus turned Daphne’s body into a laurel tree; the laurel would become one of the attributes of Apollo. While there are many two-dimensional representations of the story of Apollo and Daphne, no artist prior to Bernini attempted to create a freestanding sculpture of this duo because of the inherent complexities of the story and grouping. Bernini, though, did not shy away from a challenge. In fact, the tale of Apollo and Daphne is one entirely suited for the Baroque as it is highly dramatic. Yet again, Bernini captured the most suspenseful part of the story, as Daphne ran from Apollo and the god has just about caught up with her, but she is being transformed into a tree. In the sculpture, Daphne is in front of Apollo, nude, with her head tilted slightly backwards and her arms lifted gracefully above her. At this very moment, Peneus is turning Daphne into a tree. A closer look at Daphne reveals roots growing from her toes and planting themselves into the ground. Moving up her body, rough bark is growing between her legs, turning her body into the trunk of a tree. This bark extends over her legs and lower abdomen. Leafy branches sprout from Daphne’s fingers. Her face emotes surprise, her mouth slightly open, as the transformation takes place. Bernini, as always, is a master at creating textures in marble.
Daphne’s soft, pliant body appears as if this woman is flesh and blood with skin that is warm to the touch. The softness of the skin contrasts with the rough texture of the bark, roots, and branches.
Figure 11.4: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Apollo and Daphne, 1622-1625. Source: Architas, 2018.
Apollo runs behind Daphne, a figure in movement with his left leg lifted behind him in a running pose. Drapery covers his lower half, and like his leg, billows behind him creating a sense of rushing movement. His left hand has reached Daphne and grasps her hip. But he has gotten to the nymph too late and his love will forever remain unrequited. Bernini liked to take the viewer’s experience into consideration and wanted them to participate in the experience to enhance the feeling of suspense. Like the David, Apollo and Daphne are in the center of Room III, but originally its placement in the collection was against the wall. The viewer would approach the sculpture from behind, first seeing the swooping draperies of Apollo. As he or she drew closer, the viewer would then see the rest of Apollo and finally Daphne being transformed into a tree. Bernini believed that viewing the sculpture in this way would have
The Galleria Borghese
heightened the drama, waiting to reveal the suspenseful moment until the very end.
Figure 11.5: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Pluto and Persephone, 1621-1622. Source: Architas, 2018.
Bernini’s Pluto and Persephone (1621-1622) is the highlight of Room IV (Figure 11.5), another mythological sculpture commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese. Slightly over life-size at about two meters tall, the marble sculpture is one of the most dramatic of Bernini’s sculptures and is drawn again from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Demeter, the goddess of spring, had a daughter named Persephone. As the young maiden picked flowers, Pluto, the god of the underworld, became enamored with Persephone and proceeded to abduct her, taking her back to Hades with him. Demeter was distraught and begged Zeus to give her back her daughter. Zeus demanded that Pluto return Persephone, but Pluto claimed that once the maiden ate food in the underworld, he could not do
so (though Pluto had tricked Persephone into eating pomegranate seeds). Because she had eaten the fruits of the underworld, Persephone had to remain in Hades for six months of the year. One would expect Bernini to depict the moment of Persephone’s abduction, and in fact, at first glance it appears like this is what is happening in Bernini’s sculpture. But a closer examination of the iconography reveals that Bernini does not present the moment of the abduction, which was frequently depicted in art and is accompanied by iconography like strewn flowers and Pluto’s chariot. Instead, Bernini chose to show the moment that Persephone is dragged down to Hades, which is still a very dramatic and tense moment of the story. Pluto stands, almost kneels, in a contrapposto pose. Nude, except for scant drapery that covers his left leg, Pluto is extremely muscular and strong. With a scraggly beard and hair, Pluto’s head is being pushed away by Persephone, who he grabs ahold of. Persephone is balanced precariously on Pluto’s lap. She fights, trying to be released from the god of the underworld. Nude, she pushes Pluto away with her left hand as her right arm is extended upward. Her face turns away from Pluto, desperate to escape him and return home to her mother. Tears stream down her face in fear while Pluto smiles. In this sculptural group, Bernini contrasted the brute force of the god with the pliant, soft body of a woman. Behind Pluto is Cerberus, the three-headed dog that was the guardian of Hades; the dog’s inclusion is a clear indication that the scene depicts the arrival at the underworld. Today the sculpture is viewed in the center of a room in the Galleria Borghese. But originally Bernini placed Pluto and Persephone on a base against the wall so that like Apollo and Daphne, the viewer’s reception of the piece was controlled. Approaching the sculpture from the side, the viewer would not at first be cognizant of the scene, but slowly the forceful abduction of Persephone would become apparent. There are several Caravaggio paintings within Room VIII. Michelangelo Merisi, the artist commonly referred to as Caravaggio, was possibly the most controversial and least understood painter of the Italian Baroque. While he was a man with a virulent temper who reportedly killed another man over a disputed tennis match, he was also a painter of uniquely exceptional skill who had a lasting impact in the art world long after his death. During his career, many of his religious works were vehemently attacked for their lack of modesty in addition to their seemingly absence of religiosity. Caravaggio’s religious paintings of his later Roman period of the early sixteenth century were especially denigrated, often resulting in their rejection and removal from the churches for which they were commissioned.
The Galleria Borghese
Figure 11.6: Caravaggio, Madonna of the Serpent, 1600-1606. Source: Public Domain.
Room VIII houses Caravaggio's Madonna of the Serpent, which is sometimes called Madonna of the Palafrenieri (Figure 11.6). In November 1605, Caravaggio was commissioned by the Palafrenieri, or the Papal Grooms, to paint Madonna del Serpe. The Palafrenieri, a religious order which had been in existence since the middle of the fourteenth century, had their own chapel in St. Peter’s dedicated to their patron saint, Anne. The order already possessed a version of the Virgin and Child with St. Anne from 1537, which was on display in their nearby church of Sant’ Anna. Madonna del Serpe is from Caravaggio’s later Roman period of 16001606. These years were perhaps the artist’s most violent, characterized by his increased participation in physical combats and continued unruly behavior. Madonna del Serpe is a painting which is a product of Caravaggio’s ideology and vocabulary, alluding to various theological aspects of the Catholic Reformation as well as several references to the legendary ancient Roman past.
Caravaggio’s Madonna del Serpe depicts the Virgin and Child with St. Anne, a subject matter not uncommon in the history of art; the genre has a long history, with artistic representations from as early as the Middle Ages. St. Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary, typically has no definitive iconography, though occasionally she is depicted with a green cloak over a red robe. Most frequently, St. Anne is portrayed as a matronly woman, as in Leonardo da Vinci’s Renaissance version of the subject. Here the Virgin sits on her mother’s lap, her arms reaching for Christ, who clutches a lamb. Caravaggio’s painting is large, measuring approximately 3 meters in height and two meters in width. Madonna del Serpe contains three over life-size figures, the Virgin, Child, and St. Anne, all of whom are isolated in a dark room. Characterized by Caravaggio’s dramatic chiaroscuro, the figures are brilliantly illuminated by an unknown light source, while the background is almost completely black. Mary, Christ, and St. Anne are placed relatively close to the spectator, much like many of the artist’s other religious works. By placing the three over life-size figures close to the viewer, the sixteenth century worshipper at the Palafrenieri chapel would have been a participant of the scene. Dominating the left half of the canvas are Mary and Jesus, who both step on a slithering serpent. No such iconography had ever occurred in a version of the Virgin and Child with St. Anne. Most commonly, the snake is interpreted as symbolic of sin, particularly alluding to original sin and the fall of man. In the Book of Genesis, the devil disguised himself as a snake in the Garden of Eden, thus tempting Eve and instigating the downfall of humanity. Consequently, the snake became a symbol of evil. Certainly, Caravaggio was aware of the pejorative connotations of the snake and used the reptile in his composition for these very reasons. Accordingly, the serpent figures prominently in every interpretation of the scene. However, the serpent was also used frequently in antiquity, and it is quite possible that while in Rome Caravaggio was visually influenced by ancient sculptures that contained this iconographic element. The composition of the Madonna del Serpe contains a clear differentiation between the two halves of the painting, with Mary and Jesus on the right side and St. Anne on the left. First and foremost, these figures are separated by space. Running down the center of the canvas between the two halves of the painting is a dark void of space. Caravaggio also utilizes other means to separate his figures, including brushwork. For example, the Virgin is painted with even and smooth brushstrokes and thus the artist creates soft and luminescent skin. Likewise, the Christ
The Galleria Borghese
child’s skin is rosy, smooth, and bright. In contrast, the brushwork of St. Anne is rough. Color and dress also create distinctions between the two halves of the painting. The Virgin Mary wears a red dress, with its low neckline exposing her ample breasts. St. Anne, on the other hand, is clothed in heavy drapery which encases her sculptural body, the colors predominantly browns and grays, her skin dark and ragged. Madonna del Serpe can be interpreted as the triumph over sin. The serpent in the painting is symbolic of the one found in the Garden of Eden and connotes evil. By stepping on the snake, the Virgin and Child are hence victoriously crushing sin. This interpretation of Caravaggio’s painting as the triumph over sin can also be connected to the Immaculate Conception. That is, sin also alludes to the issue of original sin, an issue which greatly concerns the Virgin Mary, as stated earlier. Original sin was a topic of debate for Catholic reformers and therefore would have been on the minds of the Catholic Reformers during the Baroque period, and indeed Caravaggio and his patrons. The appearance of St. Anne is not incongruent, for again, she was the venerable receptacle for the Virgin Mary. The Palafrenieri rejected Caravaggio’s painting, possibly because of its iconography. Again, the painting is unique, with no parallels of iconography either before or after the altarpiece was completed. That is, there is no equivalent version of a Virgin and Child with St. Anne which also contains a snake. As a result, the cardinals of St. Peter’s, who were not accustomed to such innovative and original iconography, may have requested the removal of the altarpiece. Another possible reason for the rejection of Madonna del Serpe was Caravaggio’s depiction of St. Anne as an old crone. St. Anne is portrayed as an old, ragged, and wrinkled woman in dark and drab clothing. Furthermore, she has been relegated to the right side of the canvas, separated from the other figures of the scene, seemingly demoted to a merely observational status. Ultimately, though, the removal of Madonna del Serpe from St. Peter’s was the result of its lack of decorum, or modesty. Giovanni Bellori, a later biographer of Caravaggio, stated that the rejection of the altarpiece was because of its unashamed representation of the Virgin and the nude Christ. Consequently, like many of Caravaggio’s other altarpieces, Madonna del Serpe was removed because of its impropriety and the vulgar displaying of the Virgin’s breast and the shameless and prominent depiction of the nude Christ.
Figure 11.7: Raphael, Portrait of a Lady with a Unicorn, 1505-1506. Source: Public Domain.
A grand staircase leads to the first floor of the Villa Borghese, which has a marvelous collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings. There are several Raphael masterpieces in Room IX, including his Portrait of a Lady with a Unicorn (Figure 11.7). Raphael famously painted the frescoes of the Papal Apartments in the Vatican but he also enjoyed a successful career as a portraitist, among many other different genres. Portrait of a Lady with a Unicorn dates to approximately 1505-1506. As to its provenance, it is first mentioned in 1682 as being part of the Borghese collection. At that time, no one knew who painted the portrait, though there were suggestions that it was by Perugino or Ghirlandaio. In the seventeenth century, the painting’s authorship became even murkier when an unknown artist changed the work, transforming the woman into St. Catherine. In doing so, the woman’s bare shoulders were covered with a cloak and the unicorn was replaced with a spiked wheel, the instrument of St. Catherine’s martyrdom. In 1934, the painting was restored. While transferring it from a wood panel to canvas, and the ensuing conservation, the seventeenth century changes were identified and removed, uncovering
The Galleria Borghese
the original unicorn. During another restoration of the early 1960s, art historians discovered that there was a dog beneath the unicorn. After the restorations of this work, most scholars agreed that this painting was a work of Raphael, who was a master of the classically ideal, graceful portrait. It was thought that this painting was commissioned by an aristocratic family in celebration of the young woman’s impending marriage. Originally, she held a dog on her lap, a traditional symbol of fidelity. But the woman’s marriage was called off and as a result, a unicorn replaced the dog. This was appropriate because now that the young woman was unmarried and needed to attract another spouse, the unicorn was used as a symbol of virginity and chastity. While art historians agree that this painting is by Raphael, they differ in their identification of the young woman. According to the Galleria Borghese, the blue-eyed blonde is Maddalena Strozzi. This identification is based on the sitter’s similarity to another portrait of Strozzi in the Palazzo Pitti of Florence (Portrait of Maddalena Doni, 1506). Recently, however, Linda Wolk-Simon, a Raphael expert, claims that the young woman is Laura Orsini, the daughter of Giulia Farnese and Rodrigo Borgia, who is better known as Pope Alexander VI. In the painting, the young woman sits in an open loggia in the foreground. Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci and his new three-quarters view portrait type, the woman is shown with her torso and lap, her body slightly turned to the left. She wears the expensive clothes of an aristocrat. Her pale, milky shoulders are bare while her dress has voluminous, puffy sleeves of red velvet. Her bodice is tight on her torso and a puce color. A gold belt cinches her waist while her pleated skirt is the puce and deep red. Her arms are encircled, her hands drawn together on her lap. Tucked in her right elbow is a small unicorn, its mouth slightly open. The lady’s head turns slightly to the right, as do her eyes. Her luminous skin conveys youth and vitality, with her cheeks red and eyes green. She does not smile as she looks to the right. Her fair blonde hair has been curled and falls loosely on her back. Behind the woman, a smooth wall of the loggia is visible; it is about as tall as the bottom of her shoulders. On either side of the woman, framing her, are two columns resting on bases, the shafts unfluted. In the deep distance beyond the woman and the loggia is a green landscape that gets hazier and more undefined as it stretches back. Like Leonardo, Raphael utilizes atmospheric perspective to convey distance. The landscape does not reach above the woman’s shoulders. The rest of the background is dominated by a blue-green sky.
Figure 11.8: Raphael, La Fornarina, 1518-1519. Source: Public Domain.
The Galleria Borghese also houses one of the many copies of Raphael’s infamous La Fornarina (Figure 11.8), or little baker girl. Raphael’s portrait most likely depicts the artist’s mistress, Margharita Luti, the daughter of a Roman baker, who was thought to be one of the artist's many loves. Much has been written about Raphael’s sexual life. The famous biographer of the artists, Giorgio Vasari, mentions Raphael’s sexual exploits often, stating that the painter was a “very amorous person, delighting in women, and ever ready to serve them.” In the end, Raphael died at the young age of thirty-seven and one of the artist’s contemporaries believed the cause of death was because he was oversexed. Margharita Luti, the baker’s daughter, was one of Raphael’s last sexual exploits. He became obsessed with her and constantly used her as his model. Hence, most identify the woman in La Fornarina as Margharita Luti. In the Raphael painting and its copies, the artist presents a young woman seated, essentially nude from the waist up, though she does have cloth covering her abdomen, but this is diaphanous and does nothing to cover her body. With her right hand, the baker’s daughter cups her left breast, almost scandalously pointing the nipple in the viewer’s direction. Her left
The Galleria Borghese
bicep has a band around it (Raphael’s name is inscribed in it) and her right hand rests in the voluminous red drapery of her lap. The woman’s head turns slightly to the right, as do her eyes, which look outward (toward whom, the viewer is not sure). Smiling slightly, she has a bemused look on her face. Her hair is gathered with a part in the middle while her head is covered with an oriental-type turban.
Figure 11.9: Titian, Sacred and Profane Love, 1515. Source: Public Domain.
Room XX is home to Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love (Figure 11.9). Tiziano Vecellio, more commonly called Titian, was a Venetian artist active in the first three quarters of the sixteenth century. Titian, like his teacher Giorgione, is an enigmatic figure in the history of art and not much is known about him. Luckily, Titian leaves behind a large oeuvre of paintings. Room XX of the Galleria Borghese has one of his most famous, Sacred and Profane Love from around 1515. Much has been written about Titian’s mysterious painting, with scholars espousing many different theories about its ultimate meaning. Regardless of its meaning, the painting is beautiful with its classicizing, graceful style and harmonious symmetry. In the foreground of Titian’s painting, two women sit on either end of a fountain, the sides of which are decorated with relief sculpture. Cupid leans over the back of the fountain, between the two women. On the left is a modestly clothed woman. Wearing a voluminous white dress cinched at the waist with a blue belt, her long golden hair falls to her bare shoulders as her head turns slightly and she looks out toward the viewer. Tucked in the crook of her left arm is a closed jar while in her right hand she holds a rose. On the right side of the fountain is the second woman, who looks like she could be a sister of the clothed woman. This woman, though, is almost completely nude. She perches herself on the end of the fountain, her right hand steadying herself while her left hand is aloft and holds an urn lit with a flame. Only a narrow strip of white drapery
covers her nudity, which covers only her pubic area. A swath or red cloth is draped over her left arm and falls to the ground. Her skin is luminous and her body is soft and inviting; she looks to the left towards the other woman. A golden bowl is placed between these two figures on the fountain. The rectangular fountain connects the three figures in the foreground. Along with the two women, Cupid is also part of the scene. The young, winged boy immerses his right hand in the water of the fountain. With its relief carvings, the fountain resembles an ancient Roman sarcophagus while the women look like pagan nymphs or goddesses. Titian, a product of the High Renaissance, imbues his painting with a high degree of naturalism, which is evident in this figure. The folds of the drapery create a contrast between light and dark and give the women a three-dimensional, realistic shape. Her luminous skin glows and her youthful cheeks are ruddy. In addition, Titian utilizes the popular pyramidal composition. The three figures in the foreground, the two women and cupid, form the points of this stabilizing shape. Behind the figures is a deep landscape; each side is distinctive from the other. On the left side, the same side as the clothed, chaste woman, a hill town with walls and towers is visible behind a copse of trees. On a path, a hunter returns to the town. On the right side, the landscape is more bucolic and contains a lake and field while the town is in the deep distance. In the field, a shepherd sees to his flock. Connecting both landscapes is a hazy blue sky punctuated with clouds, though a large leafy tree distinctly separates the two sides down the middle. Undoubtedly this is an aesthetically pleasing painting, but the question remains: what does this mean? Titian was the student of Giorgione, who created a genre of painting called poesie. This is a type of painting whose subject is of little or no importance. Therefore, it is quite possible that Titian has created a poesie here, though many scholars object to this. While there are many different theories as to what this painting represents, the consensus is that the clothed woman seems to be warning the nude woman about something; no one knows what. Other scholars have fixated on the water of the sarcophagus-like fountain along with the water that is in the golden bowl that rests on the ledge. Is this a reference to baptism? If it is, what kind of baptism? Is it a religious one? Or is it a baptism into love? Perhaps the woman on the left, who is clothed, is the modest, chaste woman and the one on the left represents her after she has participated in the act of love. Other scholars contend that the two women must be allegorical figures, perhaps representing the wise and the foolish virgins.
The Galleria Borghese
Sources Augenti, Andrea. Rome: Art and Archaeology. Florence: Scala, 2007. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Harris, Ann Sutherland. Seventeenth-Century Art and Architecture. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd., 2005. Hartt, Frederick and David G. Wilkins. History of Italian Renaissance Art. Seventh edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2011. Hibbard, Howard. Bernini. New York: Penguin Books, 1965. —. Caravaggio. London: Routledge, 1985. Lenzi, Carlotta. Neoclassicism: Masterpieces in Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture. New York: Baker and Nobles, 2007. Magnuson, Torgil. Rome in the Age of Bernini. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wilsell International, 1961. Martin, John Rupert. Baroque. New York: Harper and Row, 1977. Moreno, Paolo and Chiaro Stefano. The Borghese Gallery. Italy: Touring Club Italiano, 2001 Wittkower, Rudolf. Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600-1750. Volumes 13. 4th edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.
CHAPTER TWELVE THE VIA VENETO AREA
Introduction This chapter focuses on the monuments within the Via Veneto area of Rome. Officially named Via Vittorio Veneto, the wide and curving boulevard ascends to the Porta Pinciana. Opened in 1886, the Via Veneto has long been home to the aristocracy of Rome. Expensive hotels and fancy restaurants line the street, along with the US embassy. In the 1960s, the Via Veneto emerged as a trendy, fashionable district. Within the vicinity of this trendy street are the Piazza Barberini and Palazzo Barberini. Today, the piazza serves as a busy traffic circle. Originally designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Piazza Barberini has the famous seventeenth century triton fountain in the center. The Palazzo Barberini, the pope’s palace, now houses an outstanding collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings, including Pietro da Cortona’s enormous ceiling fresco, Allegory of Divine Providence. Finally, directly across from the Piazza Barberini is the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini or Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins, which was a monastic order. Like the Palazzo Barberini, this church was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII in the seventeenth century. Pope Urban VIII’s brother was a capuchin friar, thus the pope’s commissioning of this church. Often referred to as the “bone church,” the crypt within Santa Maria is decorated with bones and is perhaps the most macabre site in Rome.
Piazza Barberini Between World War I and World War II, Piazza Barberini (Figure 12.1) became one of the busiest traffic circles in Rome, with six streets converging here: Via del Tritone, Via Sistina, Via Veneto, Via San Nicola da Tolentino, and Via Barberini. In the center of Piazza Barberini, if one can manage to get across the busy streets, is a famous fountain designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini: the Fontana del Tritone, or Triton Fountain.
The Via Veneto Area
Figure 12.1: Piazza Barberini. Source: Public Domain.
In 1642, Maffeo Barberini, otherwise known as Pope Urban VIII, one of Bernini’s most important patrons, commissioned the artist to create the Triton Fountain. Along with utilizing art to glorify the papacy, Urban VIII also wanted to promote the Barberini family to the level of aristocracy, rivaling the other important families of Rome. He continued to accomplish both these feats in the Triton Fountain in Piazza Barberini. At the top of the fountain is Triton, the ancient sea god, who has the upper body of a man and a fish tail. Triton holds a conch shell to his mouth, and a stream of water is blown upward by his mouth. The sea god kneels on a large, open shell, which is in turn held up by the tails of four dolphins oriented to the cardinal points of the compass. The heads of the dolphins are in the basin of the fountain, wide open as if they gulp the waters from the fountain. Within the fins of the dolphin is the papal crest of Urban VIII, with its Barberini bees, keys of St. Peter, and the papal tiara. The bee, as was seen in Pope Urban VIII’s commissions in St. Peter’s, was a symbol of the pope’s family. The Triton Fountain has usually been interpreted as a monument glorifying Pope Urban VIII and the Barberini family. The utilization of the papal crest, replete with bees, is a testament to that. In addition, Pope Urban VIII demanded that the fountain be completed by 1643 so that it would be unveiled on the twentieth anniversary of his pontificate; he was elected pope in 1623. While the fountain glorifies him, as Pope Urban VIII
frequently utilized art to aggrandize his family, the Triton Fountain has another meaning. Urban VIII was a learned man and an accomplished poet in his own right. During the Renaissance, Triton, who was a pagan god, became a symbol of the immortality that can be achieved through humanistic study. As a result, Urban VIII most likely wanted Bernini to use Triton to decorate this fountain to symbolize the pope’s literary accomplishments. On the north side of the Piazza Barberini, and only steps away, is another fountain designed by Bernini, though it is significantly smaller than the Triton Fountain. This is the Fontana delle Api, or Fountain of the Bees. Commissioned in 1643 by Urban VIII, this fountain is decorated with bees, a ubiquitous symbol of the Barberini family. At the bottom of the fountain is a small basin of water. In the vertical portion above the basin are three bees. Above this is a Latin inscription stating that the fountains’ waters are for the use of the public and their animals.
Palazzo Barberini From Piazza Barberini, Via delle Quattro Fontane leads to the Palazzo Barberini (Figure 12.2), yet another monument that glorifies Pope Urban VIII and his family. A luxurious palace, the construction of the Palazzo Barberini began in 1624 immediately after Urban VIII became pope. Originally designed by Carlo Maderno, who completed St. Peter’s, Francesco Borromini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini later added to the architectural design. The garden was later designed by Francesco Azzurri in the nineteenth century. The Palazzo Barberini was the family home until 1949, when it was turned over to the Italian State. The Barberini family had a huge collection of art, begun by the great patron Urban VIII, and thus the vast palace was transformed into a museum, which is now known as the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica. Palazzo Barberini was Pope Urban VIII’s family home. More specifically, three of Urban VIII’s nephews lived here: Francesco, Taddeo, and Antonio. The pope wanted to promote his family to the Roman aristocracy and therefore nepotism was a common practice. The new home was to aggrandize Urban VIII’s family members and their important positions in the Catholic Church and Roman politics. Pope Urban VIII, as has already been established, was a prolific patron of the arts. Thus, Pope Urban VIII, amassed an art collection within the Palazzo Barberini while also commissioning one of the leading artists of the Baroque, Pietro da Cortona, to paint the ceiling fresco in the salone, a large room that connected the two wings of the palace.
The Via Veneto Area
Figure 12.2: Palazzo Barberini. Source: Mallowtek, 2011.
Prior to Pope Urban VIII buying the land on which the Palazzo Barberini stands, other aristocratic families owned property there. Most significantly, Cardinal Alessandro Sforza built his Palazzo Sforza here and this small palace was still there when the pope bought the land. Because of its small size, the Palazzo Sforza would not be the adequate setting to communicate the greatness of the Barberini family. Therefore, Pope Urban VIII, over the next six years, bought up land and properties adjacent to the site so that he would have more space to expand. Then, Pope Urban VIII hired Carlo Maderno to design the Palazzo Barberini, which would incorporate the Palazzo Sforza. Maderno, who at that time was in his seventies, died only a month after construction began on the project. Gian Lorenzo Bernini, one of Pope Urban VIII’s favorites, was brought in to help. In addition, Francesco Borromini, Maderno’s associate, also assisted. But Bernini, up until that point, had primarily been working on sculptural commissions, not architectural ones. As a result, Bernini adhered closely to the plans of Maderno and did not make any significant changes to it. The only modifications Bernini seemed to make were decorative. For example, Bernini added some relief sculptures on the façade.
The completed Palazzo Barberini, which built upon the earlier Palazzo Sforza, is a grand and stately palace, fitting for its propagandistic purpose of aggrandizing Urban VIII and his family. Highly classicizing, with some Baroque touches, the Palazzo Barberini consists of three stories of equal height. On the central façade, the bottom story is reminiscent of the Colosseum with its arcade flanked by engaged Doric columns, atop which rests an entablature. The top two stories are made of arched windows, also flanked by engaged columns (Ionic on the second level and Corinthian on the third level, continuing to mimic the Colosseum). These top two stories have balustrades. On the sides of the building, flanking the central portion (the sides of the “H”), the three levels are made up exclusively of windows. The windows on the bottom level are topped with an entablature while those on the top two levels have pediments crowning them. The use of arches, entablatures, pediments, engaged columns, and classical orders is, of course, highly classicizing. But the Palazzo Barberini also exhibits some Baroque characteristics in the façade. Though the façade is not as undulating as San Carlo alle Quattro Fontante, Palazzo Barberini nonetheless plays with light and shadow. The columns, entablatures, and balustrades protrude, allowing for the interplay between light and dark. The plan of the Palazzo Barberini is shaped like an “H,” with wings on both the north and south sides and a large vaulted corridor, or salone, that connects the two sections. The northern wing incorporated the Palazzo Sforza. This was where Taddeo Barberini and his wife lived. The southern side was reserved for Cardinal Francesco Barberini. The salone that connects the two sections was vaulted, with a huge fresco decorating its ceiling. Pietra da Cortona painted Allegory of Divine Providence (also known as The Glorification of Pope Urban VIII’s Reign) on the ceiling of the salone from 1633-1639 (Figure 12.3). Born Pietro Berrettini in Cortona (1596-1669), the painter was primarily known for his large-scale frescoes, especially the one in the Palazzo Barberini. The commission to paint the ceiling made Cortona a sought-after artist. Pope Urban VIII, who long utilized art for papal and personal propaganda, continues to do so with Cortona’s ceiling fresco. In this fresco, Urban VIII tries to reinforce the divine intervention that led to him being elected pope in 1623, when the odds were against him. Thus, in Cortona’s fresco, Urban VIII wants to send the message that it was God’s plan that he be elected pope. In short, God chose him.
The Via Veneto Area
Figure 12.3: Pietra da Cortona, Allegory of Divine Providence, 1633-1639. Source: Livioandronico2013, 2017.
Before examining the ceiling fresco, it is important to emphasize that Urban VIII and Pietro da Cortona were doing something entirely different. First, ceiling frescoes like this one were not typically the realm of secular palazzi. Instead, frescoes like these were the domain of the church; think of Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Second, the salone was not the only place within the Palazzo Barberini that was decorated with ceiling frescoes. Urban VIII and Cortona carefully plotted out the subject of these frescoes, which depended on what room they were in, who lived there, and the rank and position of those inhabitants. In all these frescoes, there was an ideal viewing point, usually in the center of the room.
Standing here and looking up, the illusion of the perspective would be visible, creating a supreme example of trompe l’oeil. Like Andrea Pozzo’s ceiling fresco in the church of Sant’ Ignazio, Cortona creates a quadratura painting and wants the viewer to think that what he or she is looking at is real. Everything adheres to the power of the perspective and the illusion created. The salone of the Palazzo Barberini measures 25 meters long, 15 meters wide, and 15 meters high, which is larger than the salone of the Palazzo Farnese (the Farnese had long been a family that the Barberini were aspiring to be). The vaulted ceiling is uninterrupted, which was unusual of a secular building in the Baroque period. Typically, the ceiling in a room like this would have been made of wood and cofferred, making it impossible to paint a fresco on it. If it was vaulted, though, it was usually broken up into sections, thus making it impossible to paint a long continuous fresco over the 25 meters in length. The ceiling vault in the Palazzo Barberini was the first to be continuous without any breaks and not covered in coffers. Pietro da Cortona fills the entire vaulted ceiling with his fresco. The self-serving subject of Allegory of Divine Providence was the divine election of Urban VIII. Clustered and chaotic, the fresco is filled with figures and simulated architecture. Within this dynamic composition, Cortona gives order to the fresco by creating five distinct sections, all of which are delineated through architecture. The most important part of the fresco is in the center and is open to the sky. The other four parts are the four sides of a room, replete with architectural and decorative details, like windows, stucco decorative figures, and engaged pilasters. Each of these five scenes has its own distinctive subject within the larger content of the glorification of Urban VIII and the Barberini family. The most important of the five scenes occurs in the central portion, where the walls end and the painted room is open to the sky. The bright white walls are decorated with sculpted motifs, most notably stringed garlands, a traditional celebratory symbol of victory. Putti hold the garlands up, which are also decorated with shells, masks, and even dolphins. This festoon motif is echoed in the three allegorical figures of the theological virtues that are at the top: Faith, Hope, and Charity are aloft and they hold a green garland between them, in the center of which are three enormous Barberini bees. Above them is the figure of Roma, who holds the papal tiara. Already in just these four figures, victory, the Barberini family, and the papacy are being emphasized. Below these four figures is the figure of Divine Providence, standing on a cloud and bathed in light as she looks up at the women above her. The cloud upon which she
The Via Veneto Area
sits is shaped like a triangle and at one corner is Saturn, who eats his children, and the three Fates are at the other end. The sides of this small rectangle hold additional allegorical figures of virtues, including Beauty, Justice, Prudence, Truth, and Dignity, among others. In the scene directly below Divine Providence, Minerva defeats the Giants. In this fresco, Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, is an allusion to the Catholic Church, which had to defeat the Protestants. On the other short side, below the three theological virtues, are the allegorical figures of Authority and Abundance, who are meant to be symbols of the government. Men, women, and children fill this section, all of whom await Authority and Abundance to bestow gifts upon them. In this scene, Hercules also appears, the famous hero from classical mythology who completed his twelve labors. In Pietro da Cortona’s fresco, Hercules ejects the Harpies, who are half-human, half-bird creatures that are similar to sirens. Like Minerva, Hercules is also associated with the Catholic Church. In this case, the mythological hero represents the pope’s army, which will battle the Protestants. On the long, south side is a scene centered on the personification Moral Knowledge, who holds a text and flame in her hands, symbolizing the everlasting wisdom she is seeking. Held aloft by Divine Assistance and Piety, this scene on the south is countered with the sins, Gluttony, who is depicted as the Roman god of wine, Bacchus, and Lasciviousness, a recumbent woman, who tries to protect herself from Chastity and a host of cupids. Finally, on the north side of Pietro da Cortona’s enormous ceiling fresco is the personification of Dignity, flanked by Peace and Vulcan. Peace is on the right with Gentility while Vulcan, at his forge, is on the left. Together, they represent war and peace, for only through battle is peace possible. The four framing scenes show the dual role of Pope Urban VIII, who not only is the pope but also is the ruler of the Papal States and therefore in charge of the military. Minerva and Moral Knowledge relate to the pope’s religious role and leadership in the Counter Reformation against the Protestants. Hercules and the scene with Dignity represent his temporal role as leader of the Papal States. Urban VIII prepares the Papal States to fight. Taken together, these four sections palpably symbolize Pope Urban VIII’s undeniable importance Finally, there are four medallions placed in the corners of Cortona’s central scene, all of which contain scenes from Roman history that depict one of the four cardinal virtues: Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice. Golden and glowing, these octagonal medallions radiate light. Below each medallion is an animal that is a symbol of that virtue.
What does the collection of all these figures mean in relation to Pope Urban VIII? In short, Urban VIII was chosen by Divine Providence to by pope. Surrounded by all these virtues, the pope will be successful in overcoming any evil that he might encounter. Thus, Urban VIII will lead the church with dignity and strength, thus giving the pope immortality through all his good deeds. Most likely, visitors to the Palazzo Barberini would not have been able to decipher this message by themselves. Pietro da Cortona probably worked with scholars and theologians to come up with this complex plan. The crowded composition is one filled with complicated iconography that would have to be explained. One of the members of the household staff created a pamphlet that explained this complicated fresco to visitors.
Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini In the Via Veneto area and right across from Piazza Barberini, is the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, or or Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins. Pope Urban VIII, along with the Palazzo Barberini, was also responsible for commissioning this church, most likely to honor his brother, who was a capuchin friar (1626-1631). A popular tourist attraction for those in the area, Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini is sometimes colloquially called "the bone church" because of its unusual interior decoration. From the outside, the small church has a simple, plain facade. Inside, though, the Capuchin crypt is the ultimate destination and is not for those who have delicate stomachs. When the church was completed, Pope Urban VIII's brother, Cardinal Antonio Marcello, set about decorating the crypt with the bones of the monks of his monastic order. In other words, the artistic medium used to decorate the walls and ceiling of the crypt are bones. The crypt, which was used for prayer by the monks, was a quiet place to reflect and worship. With its bones of thousands of monks serving as the ultimate memento mori, the brothers most likely could not help but think about their own deaths.
Sources Averett, Matthew Knox. “Bernini’s Triton Fountain: War and Fountains in the Rome of Urban VIII.” Journal of Religion and Society Supplemental Series. Supplement 8 (2012): 119-132.
The Via Veneto Area
Blunt, Anthony. “The Palazzo Barberini: The Contributions of Maderno, Bernini, and Pietro da Cortona.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 21.3/4 (1958): 256-87. Cresti, Carlo and Claudio Rendina. Palazzi of Rome. Cologne, Germany: Könemann, 1998. Harris, Ann Sutherland. Seventeenth-Century Art and Architecture. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd., 2005. Haskell, Francis. Patrons and Painters: Art and Society in Baroque Italy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980. Hibbard, Howard. Bernini. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1966. Marchetti, Francesca Castria. Squares and Fountains of Rome. Milan: Mondadori Electa Spa, 2007. Martin, John Rupert. Baroque. New York: Harper and Row, 1977. Scott, John Beldon. Images of Nepotism: The Painted Ceilings of Palazzo Barberini. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991. Waddy, Patricia. “The Design and Designers of Palazzo Barberini.” The Journal of Architectural Historians 35 (1976): 151-85. Wittkower, Rudolf. Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600-1750. Volumes 13. 4th edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN TRASTEVERE
Introduction This chapter explores the art and architecture in Trastevere, the neighborhood "across the Tiber." Since antiquity, this section of Rome has been home to many workshops and artisans. Southeast of St. Peter's and the Vatican, Trastevere is home to many churches that are filled with frescoes, mosaics, and sculptures. Three of these churches, and the artistic masterpieces inside, are examined in this chapter, including Santa Cecilia, Santa Maria in Trastevere, and San Francesco a Ripa. In addition, Bramante's small San Pietro in Montorio, or the Tempietto, is in Trastevere. While a little off the beaten track, these churches in Trastevere along with their beautiful piazze, are well worth a visit to see masterpieces by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Pietro Cavallini, and Raphael. Trastevere is also the home of a famous Renaissance palace, the Villa Farnesina, which is filled with frescoes by sixteenth century Renaissance artists.
Villa Farnesina A tour of the monuments of Trastevere begins at Villa Farnesina (Figure 13.1), a large palace on the Via della Lungara near the Tiber River. Agostino Chigi, a wealthy Sienese banker, commissioned Baldasarre Peruzzi to build the elaborate villa on this site at the beginning of the sixteenth century, approximately 1505-1518. Chigi moved from his native Siena to Rome at twenty and proceeded to become a leader in banking in the Eternal City. The Villa Farnesina was built to advertise his wealth and status as a prominent banker in Rome. He also wanted the villa to function as a place for intellectual gatherings, parties, and banquets and thus the villa was designed to be a hub of entertainment and contained elaborate gardens, stables, and reception rooms. When completed, it was named the Villa Chigi after its owner. When the Farnese family bought the villa in 1581, the large palace was renamed the Villa Farnesina.
Figure 13.1: Villa Farnesina. Source: Combusken, 2011.
Reflecting Renaissance tastes and style, the Villa Farnesina is a large and stately palazzo influenced by classical antiquity with its classic and refined proportions. Consisting primarily of two stories, the first floor is slightly taller than the second floor. The ground floor consists of a series of eight rectangular windows, each topped with a cornice; each window is about half the height of the entire floor. Flanking each window is an engaged Tuscan Doric pilaster. While the pilasters are light orange color, the rest of the floor is darker orange. The pilasters "support" a protruding entablature. Directly below the entablature and in between the pilasters are small square windows. Directly in the center of the ground floor is an entrance with a small staircase. The second floor also contains a series of engaged Tuscan Doric pilasters that frame rectangular windows. But the second floor is differentiated from the one below since the color of the stone is a muted, dull orange and it is a little smaller as well. In addition, the entablature on top of the pilasters is decorated with festoon-bearing putti. A large overhanging cornice rests at the very top. The exterior was meant to impress Agostino Chigi's visitors. But the interior was even more elaborate, with rooms and loggias resplendent with Renaissance frescoes. Upon entering the Villa Farnesina, one arrives at the
Loggia della Psyche on the ground floor of the palace. With opulent, inlaid marble flooring and gracious Renaissance-arched windows, the Loggia has a painted vault with several colorful mythological scenes. These frescoes were done by Raphael and his students, including Giuliano Romano, who would go on to become one of the leading Mannerist artists of his day, along with Giovanni da Udine and Raffaellino del Colle. In 1517, Raphael received the commission for these paintings and went to work with his students. Raphael was responsible for the design and composition of the frescoes; preparatory drawings and sketches have been found by the artist's own hand to attest to this. But Raphael's students did all the painting in the Loggia della Psyche. The many mythological scenes are divided by festoons of garlands, both on the top of the vault along with the pinnacles above the windows. Within these festoons are all types of fruits and animals, including exotic ones that were recently being discovered in the New World. The most important paintings are on the ceiling of the vault and they are what give the loggia its name - these depict the story of Cupid and Psyche. In the classical myth, Cupid, who is the son of Venus, fell in love with Psyche, the daughter of a king. Cupid could only visit Psyche at night, so she would not know who he was. Eventually, after completing many difficult tasks, Zeus allowed Psyche to marry Cupid. This subject might seem a strange choice for Agostino Chigi's room, especially since the love story of Cupid and Psyche is not one often represented in the history of art, but it does have a reference to Chigi's own romantic life. Like Cupid, Chigi had been waiting a long time to marry his mistress, Androsia. She and Chigi had already had four children by the time they were able to marry. The most striking part of the Villa Farnesina is the Sala di Galatea, or the Room of Galatea, to the right of the Loggia della Psyche; the Sala was painted five years before the Loggia. Within this elaborately decorated room are frescoes by the leading artists of the sixteenth century, including most notably Raphael but also Sebastiano del Piombo and Sodoma. Like the Loggia della Psyche, the Sala di Galatea contains frescoes with a mythological subject matter. In addition, Raphael was the leading painter of the works within the Sala. Raphael painted some of the scenes in this room himself unlike in the Loggia, which he left to his students to complete. But the themes of the fresco cycles in the Loggia and the Sala di Galatea are the same: the pursuit of love. Entering the Sala di Galatea, the viewer is confronted with a series of frescoes on the both the walls and the ceiling (Figure 13.2). Like the rest of the Villa Farnesina, this room was meant to communicate the wealth and status of Agostino Chigi. Not only did he have the money to build this
elaborate and sprawling villa, and this sumptuous room, but he also expresses his erudition and taste with his use of frescoes with the subject of classical mythology. In short, Chigi is keeping up with the Renaissance trend of an increased interest in antiquity.
Figure 13.2: Sala di Galatea. Source: Combusken, 2011.
In the Sala di Galatea, the mythological subject matter on the vault revolves around various gods and heroes arranged in the night sky; the figures have their stellar and planetary counterparts. These gods and heroes are accompanied by the twelve signs of the zodiac. Astronomers have determined that the exact arrangement of these stars and planets reflect an exact day: Agostino Chigi's birthday of December 1, 1466. The fresco on the vault was designed by Baldassare Peruzzi. Below the vault are several lunettes that also contain frescoes. Sebastiano del Piombo, one of Raphael's many students, was responsible for these scenes. Like the rest of the room, these lunettes contain scenes of classical mythological, specifically ones from Ovid's Metamorphoses. The walls of the Sala di Galatea also reflect classical mythology, though in this case, instead of gods and heroes the subject is the pursuit of love between a nymph and the cyclops, Polyphemus. These wall frescoes were never completed during Chigi's time, though, and there are only two
panels that were finished according to the original plan. Polyphemos (Figure 13.3), by Sebastiano del Piombo, is to the left of Raphael's famous Galatea, from which the room derives its name. The other wall frescoes that the visitor sees today are from the seventeenth century. Usually attributed to Gaspard Dughet, a French painter that was born in Rome. Dughet's frescoes are in stark contrast to Raphael and Piombo's as they are merely landscapes.
Figure 13.3: Sebastiano del Piombo, Polyphemus, 1512. Source: Public Domain.
Raphael and Piombo's two panels' subject was derived from and popularized by a contemporary poem by Angelo Poliziano and they depict two parts of the same story. Originally, all these wall frescoes were to contain various earth and sea deities, but again, only two were created in the sixteenth century. The first is reflected Raphael's masterpiece, Galatea. In this fresco, Galatea, a beautiful sea nymph (a sea goddess), dominates
the composition. Like Raphael's other paintings, the artist was obsessed with idealism and beauty. This is reflected in the perfection of Galatea, as she stands atop her boat, which is composed of a shell. Contrapposto in pose, Galatea is half-nude, with a deep red drapery covering one of her legs and half of her torso while it billows out behind her in the wind. Her long, golden hair is likewise blown by the wind as she looks to the left. Her hands hold the reign of her chariot boat, which is drawn by two dolphins. Surrounding Galatea are a whole host of nereids, tritons, and putti. Raphael was influenced by the story of Galatea, Akis, and the cyclops, Polyphemos. While in Sicily, Polyphemos became infatuated with Galatea and he attempted to woo her by playing music and gifting her with various foods and wine. But Polyphemos love went unrequited. Galatea's attention was caught by another: Akis, a shepherd and son of a nymph and Pan. Incited with jealousy, Polyphemos violently killed Akis by crushing his head with a rock. Galatea, mourning for her lover, turned Akis into a stream. Akis and Polyphemos are absent in Raphael's composition. Polyphemos is the sole subject of Sebastiano del Piombo’s fresco directly to the left of Raphael's Galatea (Figure 13.4). In this scene, the one-eyed giant sits on a rock in profile, facing the right. Essentially, he is gazing upon Raphael's Galatea and falling in love with her. This is the calm before the storm, prior to Galatea falling in love with Akis. In contrast with Raphael's painting, del Piombo's composition is comprised of only one figure, Polyphemos. He sits on a rocky outcrop or within a cave, trees framing his massive body. He is accompanied by a dog, he holds a flute, which he will use to try to woo Galatea, and a shepherd's staff. To the right, one gets a glimpse of the sky and seascape; this is the Sicilian coastline. Because del Piombo was from Venice, the style of the painting reflects that region and contrasts with Raphael's High Renaissance style. Like Titian, del Piombo’s brushwork is more apparent. In summary, the stately Villa Farnesina was the perfect expression of Agostino Chigi's wealth, status, and taste. He communicated that he was keeping up with trends of the day by utilizing the High Renaissance style in the architecture and classical mythological subject matter in some of the fresco cycles on the interior of the palace. Chigi was likewise interested in aggrandizing himself in the process, and because of that he included the night sky on the day of his birthday in the Sala di Galatea. By decorating the sky with additional gods and goddesses, Chigi wanted the many guests coming to his home for banquets and parties to know that the deities were on his side, granting him prosperity.
Figure 13.4: Raphael, Galatea, 1514. Source: Public Domain.
Santa Maria in Trastevere In addition to the Villa Farnesina, Trastevere is the home of many famous churches. Near the Villa Farnesina is Santa Maria in Trastevere (Figure 13.5), one of the most visited churches of this neighborhood. The land upon which this church stands had been important Christian site since ancient Rome and was well-known for its religious meetings. But this area also had a sacred significance because the Early Christians believed that this was where there was a sacred oil spring, with its oil flowing to the nearby Tiber River. During the reign of Constantine in the early fourth century CE, Pope Julius I erected the church of Santa Maria on this sacred site; this was probably the first Christian church dedicated to the Virgin
Mary. This original church was eventually demolished to make room for the twelfth century church of Santa Maria that we see today, commissioned by Pope Innocent II.
Figure 13.5: Santa Maria in Trastevere. Source: Public Domain.
Nestled in a charming piazza that has a hexagon-shaped fountain, the facade of Santa Maria in Trastevere is not large but striking nonetheless. Attached to the building to its left, the church consists primarily of two levels. On the lowest level is an arcade designed by Carlos Fontana in the eighteenth century. This lower arcade is flanked by engaged Ionic columns. Atop the arcade is a balustrade that is further decorated with four sculptures of saints: Calixtus, Cornelius, Julius I, and Calpodius. All four saints were important in some way to Santa Maria and they were buried inside. Behind the balcony is a twelfth to thirteenth century golden mosaic depicting the Virgin Mary accompanied by ten women, all of whom hold lamps, two of which have been extinguished of their flames. The meaning behind these lamps, and why two are unlit, is unknown. The second level
is topped with a classical pediment. Rising behind the church is a tall campanile. The interior of Santa Maria in Trastevere consists of a traditional basilica plan of the Romanesque period. Upon entering the arcaded portico on the ground floor, one reaches the nave of the church, which is flanked on either side by a single side aisle. At the end of the nave is the apse, which is flanked by two bell towers; only one of these towers survives today. The nave and the side aisles are separated from one another by marble Ionic columns, eleven on each side; these were appropriated from the ruins of the Baths of Caligula, and thus represent the conquest of Christianity over paganism. The columns support an entablature, above which rests the clerestory level of the church. Of great interest to the visitor to this church are the mosaics within the apse at the far end of the nave. Halfway up the apse is a series of mosaics designed by the thirteenth century artist, Pietro Cavallini (Figure 13.6). Dating to 1290, these mosaics are important in the study of medieval art because Cavallini begins to introduce increased naturalism, thus pointing the way to the Renaissance. While the Renaissance style is said to have emerged with Giotto in Florence, there were inklings elsewhere in Italy that a new, more naturalistic style was coming into fashion. In Rome, Pietro Cavallini helped to usher in the new style, especially in mosaic and fresco commissions in the twelfth century churches of Rome. Active from the middle of the thirteenth century until his death in 1330, not much is known about this artist, who was born Pietro de' Cerroni. But he is credited with ushering in a new naturalistic style, especially one that is influenced by light and shadow. Pietro Cavallini was responsible for seven of the mosaics within directly below the apse of Santa Maria. These mosaics, completed around 1290, contain scenes from the life of the Virgin, an appropriate subject for this was one of the first churches dedicated to the mother of Christ. Among these scenes are the nativity of the Virgin, the annunciation, the nativity of Christ, the presentation at the temple, and the death of the virgin. The seventh scene, directly in the center, also features the Virgin, though it is not a scene taken from the events of her life. Instead, this central scene honors Mary, with the donor of the church adoring the Virgin.
Figure 13.6: Pietro Cavallini, Annunciation, Santa Maria in Trastevere, 1291. Source: Public Domain.
Within each of these seven scenes, Cavallini presents a new vision of naturalism and space, which he achieves through his use of light and shadow. While the mosaics all share a common gold background, Cavallini sets his figures within architecture that is beginning to be more proportional to their bodies. Often this architecture is inspired by classical antiquity, another foreshadowing of the Renaissance which is to come shortly. The figures themselves are no longer flat and two-dimensional, as was typical in the Romanesque period. Instead, Cavallini utilized light to model and shape not only the figures but also the architectural elements. In these seven scenes, the Virgin Mary's body has a rounded volume. Covered in excessive drapery, the viewer can nevertheless still sense the body beneath those clothes, with knees and elbows clearly visible. The faces and hands of all the figures are also bathed in light and shadow, giving the figures a roundness not seen since the art of antiquity. In addition to the Cavallini mosaics, there are many other zones of tessellation. Above Cavallini's scenes of the Virgin in the apse are a gathering of various saints. Enthroned in the center and dressed in gold are the Virgin Mary and Christ. To the left of the Virgin and Christ are St. Pope Innocent II (he commissioned the building of the church and holds a model of it), St. Lawrence, St. Callixtus, and St. Cornelius. On the right side are Saints Julius, Calepodius, Cornelius, and Peter. All these saints have significance for the church of Santa Maria. Latin inscriptions identify all these figures in the green strip of mosaic below. Directly above the
Virgin is the umbrella or canopy that is typically seen in Early Christian mosaics and symbolizes the banner of heaven. On the interior triumphal arch, there are additional figures and iconography. In the center is a cross in a roundel. To the left and right are angels and below them are two Old Testament prophets (Isaiah and Hieremias), who each hold a scroll in their hands. The scrolls each announce prophecies pertaining to the Virgin and the messiah. Finally, the exterior triumphal arch features a roundel of the Virgin Mary in the center with angels and saints below her.
San Pietro in Montorio (Tempietto) Taking a brief detour, a few blocks west of Santa Maria in Trastevere is Bramante's San Pietro in Montorio, which is more commonly called the Tempietto (Figure 13.7), or the "little temple." Bramante, best known for his initial plan of the new St. Peter's basilica, first designed the Tempietto at the end of the fifteenth century. The small church, which is really a memorial, was dedicated to St. Peter, one of the apostles and the first pope of Rome. Erected over the alleged site of his crucifixion, which was performed upside down, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain financed this building that honored Peter. At only a little over four meters in diameter, the interior of the church would not have accommodated many worshippers, thus reinforcing that the structure was a martyrium dedicated to St. Peter. The Tempietto stands out as a testament to the new High Renaissance architectural style in Rome; because of its success, Pope Julius II would then commission Bramante to design new St. Peter's. First, Bramante's building is based on prototypes from classical antiquity. Like the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, the Tempietto is small and centralized in its plan with a peripteral colonnade. The church is placed on a high podium and there is a single access point created by one set of stairs leading to the central door. The stately Doric columns support an entablature with triglyphs and metopes and balustrade. A hemispherical dome, which is topped with globe and cross, rests upon an elongated drum decorated with empty niches. Unfortunately, the setting of the Tempietto is not what Bramante had originally planned. Today, it stands in the center of a square courtyard but Bramante wanted it to be within a circular one. This circular courtyard would have served to surround the church, echoing its centralized plan. Furthermore, this circular courtyard was to have a peristyle of sixteen freestanding columns. The radii of the columns would have precisely aligned with those of the Tempietto. Thus, like other Renaissance
architects, Bramante was thinking about the ways in which the church related to and communicated with the piazza in which it was placed. In addition, like the architects of classical antiquity, Bramante also wanted to achieve harmony above all else.
Figure 13.7: Bramante, San Pietro in Montorio. Source: Quinok, 2014.
Within San Pietro in Montorio is the Raimondi Chapel (Figure 13.8), designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini from 1640-1647. This was one of Bernini's earliest experiments in unifying the arts and is the best-preserved example of his ideas of the bel composto prior to the Cornaro Chapel in San Luigi dei Francesi (see Chapter Seven). While he was working on the Raimondi Chapel, Bernini was simultaneously engaged in projects in St. Peter's, including the Tomb of Urban VIII. During the decade of the 1640s, Bernini had fallen slightly out of favor and thus the artist was desperately seeking to rectify this; some of his greatest works come from this troublesome time, including the Raimondi Chapel.
Figure 13.8: Gian Lorenzo Berini, Raimondi Chapel, 1640-1647. Source: Anthony M., 2006.
Francesco Raimondi, a Vatican clerk, was the chapel's patron. In his will, he provided the money for a chapel that would house his remains and those of his uncle, Girolamo, who was also a clerk. In 1638, Raimondi died at the age of thirty-one. A dispute over the rights of the chapel ensued after Francesco's death and it was two years before the construction could begin. Bernini began the designs in 1640 and the work was then executed by apprentices in his studio. The Raimondi Chapel is located at the second of four bays on the left side of the church. In the center of this chapel is the relief sculpture above the altar, which depicts Saint Francis in Ecstasy; dedicating the chapel to St. Francis was appropriate since it was Raimondi's namesake. Two rectangular windows are strategically located on either side of the altarpiece, providing an abundance of natural sunlight. Above the altarpiece and within the chapel is a vaulted ceiling decorated with allegorical figures of the Franciscan Virtues. These reliefs also have sculpted putti who hold bronze medallions which are decorated with scenes from the life of St. Francis. On the walls flanking the altar is the sarcophagus of Francesco Raimondi along with relief sculptures of Francesco and Girolamo Raimondi.
The entire focus of the chapel is the relief sculpture of St. Francis in ecstasy. Traditional representations of Francis show the saint receiving the stigmata, the five wounds of the crucified Christ (the nails hammered in his hands and feet and the side that was pierced by St. Longinus' spear). St. Francis' wounds were a result of divine intervention and therefore signified the saint's Christ-like status. In Bernini's relief sculpture, St. Francis is shown collapsed in the arms of an angel while two more angels hold him up. The expression on his face is one of simultaneous awe and agony. Wearing the traditional Franciscan monk's garb, Francis' body is gracefully curved, surrendering to the angels that hold him aloft. The tip of a tree is visible at the bottom of the relief, revealing that Francis is floating high in the sky. To the right is a church on a hill, an allusion to Mount Alverna, the location where Francis received the stigmata. This relief of St. Francis, though designed by Bernini, was carved by Francesco Baratta. To achieve tenebrism in the sculpture, Baratta framed the relief sculpture by Roman composite columns on either side and set it further back in a niche. A high, narrow window was then concealed on the left side of this niche. This recession and light source increase the amount of shadows. Furthermore, the sculpture is convex, causing it to curve outward so that it catches more of this mysterious, divine light. Two visible rectangular windows on either side also act as major light sources of this altarpiece. Above the altarpiece, Guidobaldo Abbatini decorated the vault with allegorical figures of the Franciscan Virtues in relief and the medallions and putti. The vault thus becomes a narrative program, which climaxes at the center in a fresco scene that depicts Francis on a cloud ascending to heaven at the time of his death.
San Francesco a Ripa Nestled within the Piazza San Francesco d' Assisi, San Francesco a Ripa dates to approximately 1231. Dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, the church was built atop the site of the hospice of San Biagio, where the saint had once stayed. This church is an important stop in a tour of the artistic masterpieces of Trastevere because it houses the Altieri Chapel (Figure 13.9), another example of Bernini's attempt to achieve the "bel composto. Designed by Bernini from 1671-1674, the artist was by this point in his seventies and increasingly spiritual. His intense spirituality is evident in the Altieri Chapel.
Figure 13.9: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Altieri Chapel, 1671-1674. Source: hovisto nina volare, 2010.
Constructed twenty years after Bernini's Cornaro Chapel, the Altieri Chapel was commissioned by Cardinal Paluzzo Altieri, Pope Clement X's nephew. The Altieri Chapel was dedicated to the cult of a Franciscan monk Ludovica Albertoni. Altieri requested the chapel have both a funerary monument to the saint and an altarpiece venerating the Blessed Ludovica. Ludovica Albertoni (1473-1533) was a wealthy woman forced to marry; when her husband died, she dedicated her life to helping the poor and became a nun with the Observant order of St. Francis. Due to her intense devotion, Ludovica would often levitate while she worshipped and prayed. When she died, people began to immediately venerate her as a saint, though she was not officially beatified until 1671. The small chapel devoted to Ludovica is on the left side of the church closest to the high altar. Bernini's sculpture of Ludovica is the dominant feature of this decorative complex. Lying on a bed of marble, Ludovica's head rests on a delicate pillow fringed with lace. Her back arches as her right hand touches her breast while her left hand clutches her abdomen. With her eyes closed and lips slightly parted, Ludovica's face has the same erotic undertones as St. Teresa in the Cornaro Chapel. Like Teresa,
Ludovica is in a state of ecstasy; she is undergoing an intense spiritual experience and is about to attain communion with god. Overcome with the power of divine love, she is thrown both literally and figuratively into a state of ecstasy. The purification of her soul is symbolized by the white marble of the sculpture. Light streams in from concealed windows, highlighting the gleaming marble. Above the figure of Ludovica is Giovanni Battista Gaulli's (better known as Baciccio) painting, The Virgin and Child with St. Anne. Taking up most of the wall of the chapel, Baciccio uses darker tones, which serve to contrast with the bright white of the sculpture below it. Within the composition, the Virgin Mary sits on the left and holds the Christ child on her lap. St. Anne kneels at the right as she raises her hands to welcome Christ, who reaches out to her. Christ in turn looks out toward the viewer. Three cherubs float in the dark blue sky above this scene, dropping pink flowers, which are symbolic of Ludovica's marriage to Christ. The walls in front of the sculpture and painting are splayed open, like the pages of a book. Bernini, ever conscious of the viewer's experience, did this deliberately to give one the sense that he or she is witnessing this personal moment. These side walls contain two additional frescoes painted by Gaspare Celio. On the right is Ludovica Giving Bread to a Poor Pilgrim, which emphasizes the nun's dedication to serving and helping the poor. On the left wall is St. Clare Holding a Monstrance, which emphasizes Clare's adoration of Christ and god. Compared to Bernini's other chapels, the Altieri is simpler. The chapel is smaller and more intimate. Bernini has also abandoned the extensive use of colored marble and is less elaborately decorated, especially when compared to the Cornaro Chapel. Even though there is still gilded bronze within the Altieri Chapel, it does not create the effect of overwhelming opulence. But the Altieri Chapel is different from Bernini's other chapels in that painting plays a much larger role in the overall composition. In the other chapels, paintings were relegated to the vaults.
Santa Cecilia The final stop in this tour of Trastevere is the church of Santa Cecilia, which is northeast from San Francesco a Ripa. Within this church is another work by Pietro Cavallini, in this case a fragmentary fresco (Figure 13.10). Like the mosaics within Santa Maria in Trastevere, Cavallini's painting points the way to a new Renaissance style.
Figure 13.10: Pietro Cavallini, The Last Judgment (detail), 1293. Source: Public Domain.
Nestled in another picturesque piazza, Santa Cecilia was erected over the alleged site of Cecilia's house. The abode was used for religious purposes beginning in the fifth century. Pope Paschal I demolished the house to build a church in the ninth century. But the church standing today is different from the one built in Paschal I's time, since there have been countless renovations since the sixteenth century. At the beginning of the twentieth century, restorations sought to return the church to its original design. The church of Santa Cecilia, like Santa Maria, is classically inspired. Designed by the eighteenth-century architect, Ferdinando Fuga, Santa Cecilia is fronted by a charming garden and fountain, which was appropriated from antiquity. Consisting of two levels, the ground floor is hexastyle Ionic with a deep porch. The granite columns support the entablature and balustrade above. Smaller in its width than the first floor, the second floor consists of three large vertically oriented rectangular windows flanked by pairs of engaged Corinthian pilasters on the ends and single pilasters beside the central window. Atop the second floor is a triangular pediment. A campanile rises behind and to the right; it dates to approximately 1120. The interior of Santa Cecilia is basilica in plan with a central nave flanked on either side by a single side aisle. At the far end of the nave is
the semi-circular apse. An arcade divides the nave from the side aisles and a fresco of the coronation of St. Cecilia decorates the nave vault. The church is covered with art, but perhaps most important is the fresco by Pietro Cavallini, which is found in the entrance wall and dates to 1293. In fragments, this scene depicts the Last Judgment. In the center of this fresco is the enthroned and haloed Christ placed within a mandorla. Wounds are visible in his palms and feet; his right arm is outstretched so the viewer can contemplate his suffering. The bearded Christ in Cavallini's fresco is even more defined by light and shadow than the figures found in the mosaics in Santa Maria in Trastevere. Though this light does not derive from a single light source, the innovation of Cavallini is nonetheless remarkable and will leave an indelible impact on Renaissance artists of the future; perhaps Giotto himself was influenced by Cavallini's work. Threedimensional, Christ's bearded face is round and his neck is defined by shadow, so much so that he appears to have an Adam's apple. Likewise, the body beneath the drapery can be discerned, his knees foreshortened. Surrounding Christ's mandorla are winged angels, all of whom hold up one hand to honor Christ and acknowledge his presence. Finally, on either side of the central Christ are the seated apostles, led by two standing figures on either side: the Virgin Mary on the left and St. John the Baptist on the right.
Sources Augenti, Andrea. Rome: Art and Archaeology. Florence: Scala, 2007. Coffin, David R. The Villa in the Life of Renaissance Rome. Princeton University Press, New Jersey: 1979. Cresti, Carlo and Claudio Rendina. Palazzi of Rome. Cologne, Germany: Könemann, 1998. D’Ancona, Paolo. The Farnesina Frescoes at Rome. Milan: Edizioni Del Milione, 1956. Grimal, Pierre. Churches of Rome. Paris: Vendome Press, 1997. Harris, Ann Sutherland. Seventeenth-Century Art and Architecture. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd., 2005. Hartt, Frederick and David G. Wilkins. History of Italian Renaissance Art. Seventh edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2011. Hibbard, Howard. Bernini. New York: Penguin Books, 1965. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Magnuson, Torgil. Rome in the Age of Bernini. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wilsell International, 1961.
Male, Emile. The Early Christian Churches of Rome. London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1960. Markschies, Alexander. Icons of Renaissance Architecture. New York: Prestel, 2003. Martin, John Rupert. Baroque. New York: Harper and Row, 1977. Menes, Julia C. “Bernini’s Contribution to the Bel Composto.” Senior thesis, Loyola University Chicago, 2001. Thunø, Erik. The Apse Mosaic in Early Medieval Rome. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Webb, Matilda. The Churches and Catacombs of Early Christian Rome: A Comprehensive Guide. Sussex: Sussex Academic Press, 2001. Wittkower, Rudolf. Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600-1750. Volumes 13. 4th edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN MODERN ROME
Introduction The final chapter of this book examines art and monuments of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, beginning with Benito Mussolini’s fascist architecture. Mussolini’s monuments have left an indelible impact on Rome, even though much of Il Duce’s art was subjected to damnatio memoriae, the ancient Roman practice of destroying the art of a hated ruler. Some of Mussolini’s fascist projects, including the construction of the broad Via dell’Imperiale, have been discussed in previous sections of this book. This chapter will focus on the Foro Mussolini, a vast sports complex built north of the city center. In the Foro Mussolini, the visitor gets a clear idea of the goals of Mussolini and his fascist architecture. Known as the Foro Italico today, this complex continues to be in use and added to since Mussolini completed it. Across the Tiber River from the Foro Mussolini is the newly constructed MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Art designed by the renowned architect, Zahi Hadid. Open since 2009, the MAXXI is home to a plethora of twenty-first century contemporary artworks. But the building itself is not to be missed. Like other contemporary art museums, the architecture of MAXXI is strikingly modern, fitting for a museum that houses artworks of the twenty-first century.
Benito Mussolini and Fascist Architecture in Italy In Italy, fascist architecture became popular during the 1920s when Benito Mussolini came to power and lasted until the 1940s, when the dictator was killed and fascism ended. Like rulers before him, Mussolini was keenly aware of the power of images and architecture and utilized both to aggrandize himself and his regime. In addition, Mussolini constantly used art and architecture to connect himself to Rome’s Golden Age, especially Augustus.
The style of fascist architecture began in the 1920s by about ten Italian architects, led primarily by Giuseppe Terragni. These architects created buildings not only in Rome but throughout Italy. While fascist artists and architects brought this vision to life, it was Mussolini alone who was responsible for the artistic and propagandistic message of fascist Rome. First, Il Duce wanted the people of Italy to know he was powerful and important. Therefore, fascist architecture had to be huge and imposing to awe the viewer. In creating this sense of admiration, the viewer would subsequently be ignited with a nationalistic fervor that would aid the fascist regime. The large-scale quality of fascist architecture served another purpose: large crowds could gather in these buildings and piazzas, further encouraging nationalism throughout the Italian population. Most of the buildings created by the fascist regime had a civic function, whether they were government buildings, sports complexes, or apartment buildings. This focus on civic buildings, which were designed to be used by the people, communicated that the fascist government was concerned with the welfare of its people. These large-scale, civic buildings had several stylistic features in common. First, most of the fascist buildings were symmetrical, like Greek and Roman architecture, which concentrated on harmony and proportion. The materials that the fascist architects used were also the same as those utilized by the ancient Romans, mainly marble and concrete. Like the Romans, Mussolini wanted his buildings to last an eternity as monuments to his regime and greatness. Unlike classical architecture, though, fascist buildings were simple and unadorned. On the interior of these buildings, the large scale and opulence of materials continued acting as a symbol of the government. The Palazzo del Lavoro (Figure 14.1) is a preeminent example of the fascist style of architecture that Mussolini implemented. Located in the EUR (Esposizione Universale Roma), this building is known as the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana or sometimes more simply as the Colosseo Quadrato, or the four-sided colosseum. Designed in 1937 by the fascist architects Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto Bruno la Padula, and Mario Romano, the Palazzo del Lavoro was specifically built for the World's Fair that was planned to be held in Rome in 1942. Mussolini’s main goal for the building was for it to be an advertisement of fascism for all the world to see. Large, symmetrical, and simple, the Palazzo del Lavora is a grand building clad in white travertine, a stone that is ubiquitously used in Roman building.
Figure 14.1: Palazzo del Lavoro. Source: dalbera, 2011.
The Palazzo del Lavoro is covered on all four sides with series of arches. Six stories tall, the building has levels consisting of nine arches. Like the materials, the use of arches on these stories alludes to ancient Rome, in this case, the Flavian Amphitheater, or Colosseum, which has arcades running along its bottom three levels. Furthermore, many have posited that the simplicity of this building has a hidden layer of meaning, mainly in the number of windows. The six stories represent the six letters of the name “Benito” while the nine windows across each level are representative of the nine letters of “Mussolini.” The large, austere building was meant to inspire and impress and its simple and symmetrical composition is a blueprint for fascist architecture in Rome and the rest of Italy. Fascist architecture, whether the modern visitor to Rome wants to acknowledge it or not, changed the urban landscape of the city. When Benito Mussolini came to power in 1922, he immediately set about transforming the urban landscape of Rome, which as the capital of Italy, would serve as a fascist showpiece. In the city center, ancient monuments were “liberated,” as Mussolini liked to call it. Il Duce demolished tenements and neighborhoods to free the ancient monuments of Rome. In addition, Mussolini created many broad boulevards connecting fascist buildings with the monuments of ancient Rome, thus connecting the dictator with a long line of rulers in the city. Outside the city center,
Mussolini had Foro Mussolini, a sports complex, constructed. The famous film studio Cinecittà, where many well-known movies were made, was also built during his reign. The EUR was meant to be an example of a fascist city of the future, and the Città Universitaria, a major university in Rome, were also constructed during this period. Both inside the city center and outside, Mussolini fashioned Rome to be a symbol of the fascist regime Following the dethroning of Mussolini in 1943 and his murder in 1945, fascism died in Italy. In Rome and cities across Italy, fascist architecture, monuments, and symbols were subjected to the ancient practice of damnatio memoriae and many were destroyed to get rid of any tangible trace of the totalitarian regime. But many fascist buildings survived. Spiro Kostoff, the noted architectural historian, stated that “the Duce’s damnatio memoriae was halfhearted.” Therefore, Rome is full of its fascist past, if the visitor dares to take a closer look. While the damnatio memoriae of fascism and Mussolini was halfhearted, there was more attempt to remove the ubiquitous symbol of the fascists that was adorning so many of the buildings, the fasces. This bundle of rods with an ax blade was affixed to fascist buildings and advertised that structure’s function. Many of the decorative fasces were removed after World War II, though again, if you look carefully in Rome, one can find the fasces in certain places. Along with the destruction of monuments, many of the names of the streets and monuments built by Mussolini were changed. For example, the Foro Mussolini, which will be examined in this chapter, was renamed the Foro Italico.
Foro Mussolini (Foro Italico) During his reign as fascist dictator of Italy, Benito Mussolini was obsessed with ancient Rome, especially his role model Augustus. Like Augustus, from the beginning of his reign, Mussolini utilized art as propaganda and a method to advertise and reinforce his fascist ideology. In addition, in his commissioned artworks and architectural complexes, Mussolini sought to connect himself back to the great Augustus. By claiming his connection to the emperor, Mussolini was stating that he was one in a long line of Roman rulers. Furthermore, Mussolini was going to bring Rome back to the height of its power. By “liberating” the ancient monuments of Rome, and connecting himself to the Roman Empire, Mussolini strove to connect old and new Rome. Along with tearing down unsanitary tenements to free ancient monuments and constructing wide boulevards to accommodate the
increasing amount of traffic in Rome. Benito Mussolini also built many sports complexes and schools, focusing on indoctrinating the youth of Italy and preparing them to fight. After all, the fascist regime was all about youth and vitality and they set about training boys and girls to be the picture of health and strength. In his book on Mussolini, Borden Painter states that “fascism promised to produce a new powerful Italy led by a new breed of Italian men, who would be physically fit, imbued with a martial spirit, disciplined, and always ready to fight, and to die for fascism.” As for the women, they had a supporting role as wives and mothers of the young men, but they too, were encouraged to be physically fit and strong. One of Mussolini’s largest sports facilities was the Foro Mussolini, or Forum of Mussolini. Construction on the Foro Mussolini, just north of the Vatican and below Monte Mario, began in 1928. Enrico del Debbio designed the massive sporting complex, which was dedicated to health and physical fitness. Following del Debbio’s death in 1935, Luigi Moretti, another fascist architect, took over. Some of the buildings of the Foro Mussolini opened as early as 1932. Building continued during World War II. After the fall of fascism, changes were made to the Foro Mussolini. First, the name was changed to Foro Italico, eradicating Mussolini’s name and the reminder of his totalitarian regime. Before examining the various buildings and monuments within the Foro Mussolini, it is important to mention the name of the complex and the usage of the word “Forum” in its title. In ancient Rome, a forum was the meeting place at the city center where business would be conducted along with politics, religion, and various other activities. By using the title of forum for this sports complex, Mussolini was again trying to link himself to the Roman Empire. Furthermore, in the first century CE, emperors constructed their own imperial forums north of the famous Forum Romanum in Rome. Julius Caesar, Augustus, Trajan, Vespasian, and Nerva all built their forums, which was done after an important conquest and all served as commemoration and advertisement of these victories. In the twentieth-century, Mussolini was trying to do the same. Yes, he was connecting himself to the Golden Age of Rome and like these emperors, Mussolini was advertising his fascist victory in Italy. In the 1950s, the Olympic Stadium was constructed for the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome; much of the complex was utilized for the games (Figure 14.2). However, the rest of the complex, except for the Olympic Stadium, was built during the fascist period. As a side note, in the 1960s, study abroad programs, including Loyola University Chicago’s
Rome Center, housed students in the dormitories of the Foro Italico before eventually finding their permanent home in Monte Mario.
Figure 14.2: Olympic Stadium (renovated). Source: Itto Ogami, 2012.
Originally called the Stadio dei Cipressi, del Debbio first designed and completed this massive sports complex in 1934. With a seating capacity of 50,000, the Stadio dei Cipressi was rebuilt after World War II and renamed the Stadio Centomila, reflecting its new capacity of 100,000 people and preparing for the 1960 Olympics. In 1974, the complex was renamed again, the Stadio Olimpico or the Olympic Stadium. It has since been updated in 1990 and 2008, thus viewers must be aware that they are not looking at the original fascist building.
Figure 14.3: "Il Monolito." Source: Public Domain.
At the entrance to the Foro Mussolini (for reasons of continuity, and because this complex’s connection to fascism is the focus, the complex will henceforth be called by its original name) is a huge obelisk, about sixty feet in height and nicknamed "il Monolito," or the monolith (Figure 14.3). Again, Mussolini draws upon ancient Rome, and most notably Augustus, who used an Egyptian obelisk in part of his Ara Pacis Augustae complex to communicate his victory over Antony and Cleopatra, and hence Egypt. But unlike those that Augustus and other Roman emperors utilized, Mussolini’s obelisk has not been stolen from a conquered country but was newly made. Designed by Constantino Costantini, the large obelisk was made entirely of Carrara marble, taken from the same Italian quarry that Michelangelo frequented back in the Renaissance. Unlike Egyptian obelisks, Mussolini’s obelisk has a larger base as it tapers upwards. At the bottom, there are several vertically oriented rectangles of varying shapes; these are what make the base somewhat wider at the bottom. Simple and pristine in its whiteness, there is no other decoration to this obelisk, as one would expect with a fascist monument. However, there is an inscription on the base: “Dux.” This is the Latin word for leader or ruler. By using Latin, just like with forum, Mussolini serves to connect himself to the Roman
Empire. Along the shaft of the obelisk, “MUSSOLINI” is vertically inscribed. After its completion, the obelisk was called “il Monolito,” which is a reference to the monolithic piece of Carrara marble but also Mussolini’s greatness. As a side note, when Allies liberated Rome in 1944 during World War II, they saved the obelisk from certain destruction. The Romans, who abhorred fascism and Mussolini, were intent on decimating this monument because it symbolized all that they hated.
Figure 14.4: Academy of Physical Education. Source: lienyuan lee, 2015.
Standing at the entrance by the obelisk, turning to the north side, one sees the Academy of Physical Education (Figure 14.4), which was originally called the Istituto Superiore Fascista di Educazione Fisica, or the Superior Fascism Institute of Physical Education. Today it is known as the Academia della Farnesina. After the fall of fascism, this building served as the headquarters of Italy’s Olympic Committee, particularly during Rome’s 1960 Olympics. Opened in 1932, this red building consists of three levels and two main wings that are connected by a bridge. In front of the façade are marble statues of nude athletes, another example of fascism using classical antiquity in their art. These nude male athletes
were appropriate here, since the context is one of physical fitness and strength. Originally the Academy of Physical Education was to have the Center for Political Preparation on the one side while the other portion contained an indoor swimming pool along with Benito Mussolini’s very own personal gymnasium, the Palestra del Capo del Governo. Swimming pools were an important part of Enrico del Debbio’s original plans of the entire Foro Mussolini. Rome did not have many public swimming pools and Mussolini wanted to open more to serve his propagandistic regime. The Foro Mussolini was to have two indoor swimming pools along with three outdoor pools, all of which were to be open to the public. Like the Roman emperors who sponsored the building of huge thermae, or baths, the construction of these pools was a way to tell Roman citizens that Mussolini cared about their personal health and hygiene. In addition, these swimming pools, like the Roman baths, were to be decorated profusely with mosaics and frescoes, advertising the greatness of Il Duce and the health of his people under his reign. Only one indoor pool was completed in the Foro Mussolini before construction was halted in World War II. Moving past the obelisk, the visitor arrives at the Piazzale dell’ Impero, which was designed by Luigi Moretti after Enrico del Debbio’s death. This large open square originally connected the entire complex, including the two stadiums of the Foro Mussolini. Beyond its pragmatic use, Mussolini did not miss the opportunity to aggrandize himself and fascism within the Piazzale dell’ Impero, as its simple decoration includes references to fascist history and fascist symbolism. In the middle of the Piazzale dell' Impero is the Fontana delle Sfera, which was completed in 1933. A spherical fountain resembling a globe, demonstrates the power that the fascists hope to harness throughout the world as the globe is a common iconographic trope. But there was additional symbolism, as this globe was designed to communicate the universality of sports. Consisting of a large, marble fountain measuring three meters and diameter and weighing an astounding forty-two tons, the globe rests on a square base over a circular basin. The fountain further rests in the middle of concentric circles. The outer ring is decorated with mosaics, yet another nod to the Roman imperial past as many homes and palaces were lavishly decorated with this expensive art form. Reminiscent of the monochrome mosaics that from the port city of Ostia Antica, the mosaics surrounding the Fontana delle Sfera contain imperialistic themes.
Figure 14.5: Stadio dei Marmi. Source: Anthony Majanlahti, 2005.
Enrico del Debbio also designed a second, smaller stadium, the Stadio dei Marmi (Figure 14.5), or Stadium of Marbles. Completed in 1928 before the Olympic Stadium, the Stadio dei Marmi is an outdoor stadium, uncovered, named for the sixty life-sized marble statues of male athletes that circle the elliptical track; today there are only fifty-nine left. Each of the sixty statues symbolized a different city in Italy and thus came to represent that area of Italy. These sculptures are another example of the influence of classical antiquity making its way into fascist art and architecture. The ring of seating that surrounds the track can hold 5200 visitors. During the fascist regime, the Stadio dei Marmi was used for various events. Today the Stadio dei Marmi is open to the public, who can use it for their daily workouts or a leisurely walk, with the massive sculptures of ideal athletes cheering them on. Palazzo della Farnesina (Figure 14.6) is also within the Foro Mussolini and was the largest building designed for the forum. Enrico del Debbio designed this stately, simple building in 1935 as the headquarters of the fascist party. The name of this building derives from where the palazzo was built, right over land that had belonged to Pope Paul III, who was a member of the famed Farnese family.
Figure 14.6: Palazzo della Farnesina. Source: Simone Ramella, 2017.
A palazzo is a residential palace but this is not a home. Mussolini and the fascists wanted to create a grand, huge structure that would rival and surpass the great palazzi of Italy's past. Made of travertine, a stone favored by the Romans and used throughout the Empire, the Palazzo della Farnesina is enormous. With a length of 169 meters and 51 meters high, the building has a total of nine floors, with 1300 rooms and 6.5 kilometers of corridors. Despite its simplicity, the Palazzo della Farnesina shares similarities with Renaissance palazzi like the Palazzo Medici in Florence. Like the Medici Palace, this one also has rusticated stonework on the first floor. The other stories have smooth stonework. The facade of the Palazzo della Farnesina has more floors than the Palazzo Medici. Despite its greater number of floors, the Farnesina is still divided into three sections with a large cornice at the top. Furthermore, it is wider than it is tall, emphasizing its strength and durability. Thus, the fascists also drew upon Renaissance masterpieces to suit their purposes and remind citizens of the greatness of Italy's past and the promise of the future. Still standing today, it remains one of the biggest buildings in Italy. Like other fascist monuments, the function has changed as it now houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Italian Republic. In addition, since 2000 the Palazzo della Farnesina has served as a location to exhibit art; today it houses an important collection of contemporary Italian artworks.
MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Art Across the Tiber River from the Foro Mussolini is a newer addition to the artistic landscape of Rome: the MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Art (Figure 14.7), which opened in 2009. As its name suggests, the museum is entirely devoted to contemporary, twenty-first century art. Zahi Hadid, an Iraqi-born British architect, designed the museum. A world-renowned architect, Hadid has received numerous commissions throughout the world, held several faculty positions at prestigious universities, and has won virtually every architectural award. Like other modern and contemporary art museums, the architectural style of the building immediately communicates to the viewer the type of artwork that is inside. More traditional museums, like the Capitoline Museums, are heavily influenced by classical architecture. Gazing at the museums atop the Capitoline, one immediately concludes that its classically inspired architecture means that traditional works are displayed inside. At the MAXXI Museum, there are no overt references to classical antiquity. Instead, Hadid is mainly influenced by modern architecture in her design and use of materials. The stark concrete, steel, and glass, along with its lack of decoration and unique shape, means that modern and contemporary art must be housed inside. At first glance, the MAXXI seems to have nothing that harkens back to antiquity or the other influential periods of architecture. However, Hadid deliberately constructed the MAXXI out of concrete, a material that was prolifically used by the Romans because of its durability, economy, and versatility. But unlike the Romans, Hadid shies away from more overt classical influences in her work. Instead, the façade of the building has more in common with twentieth century architectural movements, especially the International Style (Die Stijl) popularized by Le Corbusier in the 1920s. The International Style stripped away excessive details, as can be seen in Le Corbusier’s famous Villa Savoye, which is just outside Paris. Made of unadorned concrete, the Villa Savoye rests on slender pylons and takes advantage of steel to support the structure. Simple, sleek, and modern, Le Corbusier envisioned the house as a machine for living and thus everything is designed to facilitate this.
Figure 14.7: MAXXI Museum. Source: Archeologo, 2016.
The MAXXI Museum has some of these characteristics of the International Style, with its predominant use of concrete and lack of decoration. The façade, like the Villa Savoye, is simple. In addition, Hadid utilizes a role of columns made of metal on the façade, which seem to mimic not only the pylons on the Villa Savoye but also are reminiscent of the portico columns within the Piazza di San Pietro. These metal columns appear a few times on the façade, always in pairs of six, which is perhaps a reference to the hexastyle temples found throughout ancient Roman. Hadid designed the building to appear to be made up of all these geometric shapes, made of concrete, put together. Metal is also used in places, like the columns on the façade. The bottom level, along with the entrances to the museum, contains many glass windows. The metal columns support the upper level, which has fewer windows and more use of concrete. Like Baroque architecture, Hadid manipulates the shape of the building, especially the upper stories, so that there are sections that protrude and others that recede. In other words, the façade is not flat but is constantly moving the eye; there are probably no right angles within the museum. The very top floor, if you can call it that, juts out over the piazza below, a large piece of concrete with windows at the end. The reflective
windows catch the older buildings, thus connecting older Rome with the new, twenty-first century Rome.
Figure 14.8: MAXXI Interior. Source: Commonurbock23, 2010.
With this asymmetrical, organic shape, the visitor never knows what to expect when he or she enters the building (Figure 14.8). Like the exterior, Hadid is interested in geometry in the interior of this structure. Stark white walls, metal trussed ceilings (maybe a nod to Rome’s Early Christian past), winding metal staircases, black and white metal flooring, and indeed no right angles on the inside all support this element of surprise. In short, it is easy to get lost within the labyrinth of the MAXXI. Hadid, in fact, explains this design by saying that “my first idea was about a delta where the main streams become the galleries and the minor ones become bridges
to connect them.” A delta, like the famous Nile delta of Egypt, is when a river divides up into countless tributaries as it makes its way out into the sea. For Hadid, the many corridors of the MAXXI are those tributaries. Examining the plan of the MAXXI Museum makes this idea of a delta clearer. Looking at the museum from above, the main stream of the river is immediately visible. As it moves, the stream breaks up into its many tributaries. These galleries or corridors twist and turn, dead end, and some even are on top of other tributaries, which surprises the viewer, who never knows what exactly is coming next and is constantly twisting and turning through the galleries.
Sources Augenti, Andrea. Rome: Art and Archaeology. Florence: Scala, 2007. Arthurs, Joshua. Excavating Modernity: The Roman Past in Fascist Italy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013. Baxa, Paul. Roads and Ruins: The Symbolic Landscape of Fascist Rome. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010. Hadid, Zaha. MAXXI: Zaha Hadid Architects. Rome: Skira Rizzoli, 2010. Kallis, Aristotle. The Third Rome, 1922-43: The Making of the Fascist Capital. United Kingdom, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Lindsay, Georgia. The User Perspective on Twenty-First Century Art Museums. New York: Routledge, 2016. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Painter, Borden W. Mussolini’s Rome: Rebuilding the Eternal City. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005.
Ackerman, James S. The Architecture of Michelangelo. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986. Ancient History Encyclopedia: https://www.ancient.eu/ Anderson, J. The Historical Topography of the Imperial Fora. Brussels: Latomus, 1984. Arthurs, Joshua. Excavating Modernity: The Roman Past in Fascist Italy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013. Averett, Matthew Knox. “Bernini’s Triton Fountain: War and Fountains in the Rome of Urban VIII.” Journal of Religion and Society Supplemental Series. Supplement 8 (2012): 119-132. Augenti, Andrea. Rome: Art and Archaeology. Florence: Scala, 2007. Bailey, Gauvin Alexander. Between Renaissance and Baroque: Jesuit Art in Rome, 1565-1610. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003. Baxa, Paul. Roads and Ruins: The Symbolic Landscape of Fascist Rome. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010. Bell, Daniel Orth. "New Identification in Raphael's School of Athens." The Art Bulletin 77 (December 1995): 639-46. Blunt, Anthony. “The Palazzo Barberini: The Contributions of Maderno, Bernini, and Pietro da Cortona.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 21.3/4 (1958): 256-87. Borsi, Franco. Bernini. New York City: Rizzoli, 1984. Brodsky, Joseph. Campidoglio: Michelangelo's Roman Capital. New York City: Random House, 1994 Campbell, Thomas P. Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. Carandini, Andrea. The Atlas of Ancient Rome: Biography and Portraits of the City. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017. Castriota, David. The Ara Pacis Augustae and the Imagery of Abundance in Later Greek and Early Roman Imperial Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995. Coarelli, Filippo. Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide. Translated by James J. Clauss and Daniel P. Harmon. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. Coarelli, Filippo et al. The Column of Trajan. Rome: Colombo, 2000.
Art in Rome: From Antiquity to the Present
Coffin, David R. The Villa in the Life of Renaissance Rome. Princeton University Press, New Jersey: 1979. Cresti, Carlo and Claudio Rendina. Palazzi of Rome. Cologne, Germany: Könemann, 1998. D’Ancona, Paolo. The Farnesina Frescoes at Rome. Milan: Edizioni Del Milione, 1956. Davies, Penelope J.E. Death and the Emperor: Roman Imperial Funerary Monuments from Augustus to Marcus Aurelius. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004. De Feo, Vittorio and Martinelli, Valentino. Andrea Pozzo. Milan: Electa, 1996. Frommel, Christoph Luitpold. Michelangelo’s Tomb for Julius II: Genesis and Genius. California: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016. Gorski, Gilbert J. and James E. Packer. The Roman Forum: A Reconstruction and Architectural Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Grant, Michael. History of Rome. Faber: London, 1979. Grimal, Pierre. Churches of Rome. Paris: Vendome Press, 1997. Hadid, Zaha. MAXXI: Zaha Hadid Architects. Rome: Skira Rizzoli, 2010. Harris, Ann Sutherland. Seventeenth-Century Art and Architecture. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd., 2005. Hartt, Frederick and David G. Wilkins. History of Italian Renaissance Art. Seventh edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2011. Haskell, Francis. Patrons and Painters: A Study in the Relations Between Italian Art and Society in the Age of the Baroque. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980. Hersey, George L. High Renaissance Art in St. Peter’s and the Vatican. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993. Hibbard, Howard. Bernini. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1966. —. Michelangelo. New York City: Harper and Row, 1985. Hibbert, Christopher. Rome: The Biography of a City. London: Penguin Books, 1985. Holmes, George. The Oxford History of Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Hopkins, Keith and Mary Beard. The Colosseum. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011. Jacobs, Paul and Diane Conlin. Campus Martius: The Field of Mars in the Life of Ancient Rome. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Kallis, Aristotle. The Third Rome, 1922-43: The Making of the Fascist Capital. United Kingdom, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
King, Ross. Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling. London: Penguin Books, 2003. Kleiner, Diana E.E. Roman Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. Lavin, Irving. Bernini and the Crossing of St. Peter’s. New York: New York University Press, 1968. Lenzi, Carlotta. Neoclassicism: Masterpieces in Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture. New York: Baker and Nobles, 2007. Levy, Evonne. Propaganda and the Jesuit Baroque. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. Lindsay, Georgia. The User Perspective on Twenty-First Century Art Museums. New York: Routledge, 2016. Lugli, Giuseppe. The Roman Forum and the Palatine. Rome: Bardi, 1961. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Macadam, Alta. Blue Guide: Rome. London: A & C Black Limited, 1998. Magnuson, Torgil. Rome in the Age of Bernini. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wilsell International, 1961. Male, Emile. The Early Christian Churches of Rome. London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1960. Marchetti, Francesca Castria. Squares and Fountains of Rome. Milan: Mondadori Electa Spa, 2007. Marder, Tod A. Bernini and the Art of Architecture. New York: Abbeville Press 1998. Markschies, Alexander. Icons of Renaissance Architecture. New York: Prestel, 2003. Martin, John Rupert. Baroque. New York: Harper and Row, 1977. Marvin, M. “Freestanding Sculptures from the Baths of Caracalla” American Journal of Archaeology 87 (1983): 347-84. Menes, Julia C. “Bernini’s Contribution to the Bel Composto.” Senior thesis, Loyola University Chicago, 2001. Moreno, Paolo and Chiaro Stefano. The Borghese Gallery. Italy: Touring Club Italiano, 2001. Morrissey, Jake. The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry that Transformed Rome. New York: HarperCollins, 2009. Nash, Ernest. Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome. New York City: Hacker Art Books, 1981. Nickerson, Angela N. A Journey into Michelangelo's Rome. Albany, CA: Roaring Forties Press, 2008. Painter, Borden W. Mussolini’s Rome: Rebuilding the Eternal City. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005.
Art in Rome: From Antiquity to the Present
Ramage, Nancy H. and Andrew Ramage. Roman Art and Architecture. Fifth Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. Richardson, Frank. A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. Roettgen, Steffi. Italian Frescoes: The Flowering of the Renaissance 1470-1510. Translated by Russell Stockman. New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 1996. Sanfilippo, Mario. Fountains of Rome. London: Tauris Parke Books, 1996. Scribner III, Charles. Bernini. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1991. Scott, John Beldon. Images of Nepotism: The Painted Ceilings of Palazzo Barberini. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991. Scotti, R.A. Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter’s. Souvenir: London, 2007. Strong, Donald. Roman Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976. Thunø, Erik. The Apse Mosaic in Early Medieval Rome. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Toynbee, J.M.C. Death and Burial in the Roman World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. Vasari, Giorgio. The Lives of the Artists. Translated by Julia Conway Bondanella and Peter Bondanella. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. Waddy, Patricia. “The Design and Designers of Palazzo Barberini.” The Journal of Architectural Historians 35 (1976): 151-85. Ward-Perkins, J.B. Roman Imperial Architecture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981. Watkin, David. The Roman Forum. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009. Webb, Matilda. The Churches and Catacombs of Early Christian Rome: A Comprehensive Guide. Sussex: Sussex Academic Press, 2001. Wittkower, Rudolf. Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600-1750. Volumes 13. 4th edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.
Academy of Physical Education, 271 See also Foro Mussolini Allegory of Divine Providence (Cortona), 234, 239-241 Altieri Chapel (San Pietro in Montorio), 259-261 Apollo Belvedere, 179 Apollo and Daphne (Bernini), 221225 Apoxyomenos (Lysippos), 156-158, 161 Ara Pacis Augustae, 79-93 Arch of the Argentarii, 94, 98-100 Arch of Constantine, 38, 53-56 Arch of Janus, 94, 101-102 Arch of Marcus Aurelius, 68-69 Arch of Septimius Severus, 21-25, 32, 34 Arch of Titus, 18, 23, 32-35 Arco di Portogallo, 64-68 Augustus of Primaporta, 160 Aventine Hill, 2 Baldacchino (Bernini), 195-199 Basilica Aemelia, 18-19, 25, 27 Basilica Constantine, 19, 28-30 Basilica Julia, 19, 25 Basilica Ulpia, 47-48 Baths of Caracalla, 94, 104-109, 113 Baths of Diocletian, 201-203, 214 Bernini, Gian Lorenzo, 136, 143145, 179, 181, 190, 195, 198202, 215, 219-225, 234, 234238, 244, 257-264 Bernini, Pietro, 93 Bocca della Verità. See Mouth of Truth
Borromini, Francesco, 145, 201, 208-209 Bramante, Donato, 180-181, 244, 255-256 Braschi Antinous, 161 Caelian Hill, 2 Campus Martius, 79, 86, 89, 94 Canova, Antonio, 217-219 Capella Sistina. See Sistine Chapel Capitoline Hill, 2, 18, 22, 32, 40-41, 58-62, 69 Capitoline Venus, 77 Caravaggio, 91, 147-149, 215, 219, 225-228, 234 Castel Sant' Angelo, 88-89 Cavallini, Pietro, 244, 253-254, 261-263 Chair of St. Peter (Bernini), 199202 Chapel of St. Catherine of Alexandria (San Clemente), 111 Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter (Perugino), 170-171 Circus Maximus, 94, 102-104 Colossal Portrait of Constantine, 62 Colosseum, 16, 33-37, 38-39, 42-44, 55 Column Base of Antoninus Pius, 162-163 Column of Marcus Aurelius, 154155 Column of Trajan, 47-50, 59 Comitium, 19, 21 Commodus as Hercules, 72 Contarelli Chapel (San Luigi dei Francesi), 147- 149 Cordonata, 59-60 Cornaro Chapel (Santa Maria della Vittoria), 201, 205-206
Art in Rome: From Antiquity to the Present Curia Julia, 19-21 da Sangallo, Antonio, 183-185 David (Bernini), 219-223, 234 da Cortona, Pietro, 234, 237-244 del Piombo, Sebastiano, 247-250 della Porta, Giacomo, 186 Doryphoros (Polykleitos), 156-158 Dying Gaul, 75-76 Equestrian Portrait of Marcus Aurelius, 73 Esquiline Hill, 2 Field of Mars. See Campus Martius Flavian Amphitheater. See Colosseum Fontana della Barcaccia (Pietro Bernini), 93 La Fornarina (Raphael), 231-232 Foro Italico. See Foro Mussolini Foro Mussolini, 263-272 Forum of Augustus, 51-52 Forum Boarium, 94, 97, 99, 101 Forum of Caesar, 44, 50-52 Forum of Nerva, 52 Forum Romanum, 2-3, 16-19, 24, 26-30, 32-34 Forum of Trajan, 45-47, 50 Forum of Vespasian, 52-53 Four Rivers Fountain (Bernini), 144 Galleria Borghese, 215-235 Hadid, Zahi, 263, 275 Horologium, 85-87 See also Ara Pacis Augustae House of Livia, 58 House of Tiberius, 58 House of the Vestas, 25 Imperial Fora, 38-53 Laocöon, 158-159, 162, 176 Last Judgment (Michelangelo), 155, 177-179 St. Longinus (Bernini), 193, 197199 Lysippus, 108, 156-157 Maderno, Carlo, 188-190 Madonna della Serpe. See Madonna of the Serpent
Madonna of the Serpent (Caravaggio), 226 Markets of Trajan, 46, 50 Masolino, 111 Mausoleum of Augustus, 85-88 Mausoleum of Hadrian, 87-89 MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Art, 263, 275 Michelangelo, 58-61, 80, 113, 121, 128-136, 142-144, 149, 155, 164, 169, 172-180, 181, 184202, 204 Il Monolito, 269-70 See also Foro Mussolini Monument of Vittore Emanuele, 3845 Mouth of Truth, 97-98 Mussolini, Benito, 1, 14, 17, 39, 42, 44, 214-216, 263-278 Old St. Peter's, 115-117, 120, 126, 179-181, 188, 197 Olympic Stadium, 268-269, 273 See also Foro Mussolini Palatine Hill, 1-2, 17, 24, 38, 57-58 Palazzo Barberini, 234, 236-244 Palazzo dei Conservatori, 60-62, 68, 71-73 Palazzo del Lavoro, 272 Palazzo Nuovo, 61 Palazzo Senatoria, 61 Pantheon, 137-141, 145 Papal Apartments, 155, 164-165 Pauline Borghese (Canova), 217-219 Perugino, 165, 170-171 Piazza Barberini, 197, 234-236, 243 Piazza del Campidoglio, 58, 60-61 Piazza Navona, 136, 143-144 Piazza del Popolo, 79, 88-93 Piazza della Repubblica, 201-202 Piazza di San Pietro, 181, 186, 190 Piazza di Spagna, 79, 88, 91-93 Pietà (Michelangelo), 179, 191-195 Pluto and Persephone (Bernini), 224-225 Polykleitos, 156-157
284 Polyphemos (Sebastiano del Piombo), 248-250 Ponte Sant' Angelo, 89 Portrait of Antinous as a Pharaoh, 161 Portrait of Claudius as Jupiter, 159160 Portrait of a Lady with a Unicorn (Raphael), 229 Pozzo, Andrea, 150-151, 153, 156 Quadrifrons Arch. See Arch of Janus Quirinal Hill, 2, 201, 204 Raimondi Chapel (San Francesco a Ripa), 257-258 Raphael, 155, 164-171, 179, 215, 229-232, 244, 246-251 Risen Christ (Michelangelo), 142 Roman Forum. See Forum Romanum Rostra, 19, 21 Sacred and Profane Love (Titian), 232 San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, 201, 208-211 San Clemente, 94, 109-111 San Francesco a Ripa, 244, 259-261 San Luigi dei Francesi, 147-148 San Pietro in Vincoli, 113, 128, 132-135 Sant' Andrea al Quirinale, 201, 211213 Sant' Ignazio, 150, 152-153 Sant' Ivo alla Sapienza, 145-147 Santa Cecilia, 244, 261-263 Santa Maria degli Angeli, 201-202, 204 Santa Maria del Popolo, 91 Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, 234, 243 Santa Maria della Vittoria, 201, 205-206 Santa Maria in Aracoelia, 60 Santa Maria in Trastevere, 244, 251, 261 Santa Maria Maggiore, 113, 117, 119-128
Index Santa Maria sopra Minerva, 141143 Santa Prassede, 113, 117, 126-128 Santa Pudenziana, 113, 117, 119, 124-128 The School of Athens (Raphael), 155, 166-168 She-Wolf, 71 Servian Wall, 202, 215 Sistine Chapel, 155, 164-177, 180, 184, 191 Spanish Steps, 79, 90-93 Lo Spinario, 70 St. Peter's (New), 179-203 Stadio dei Marmi, 273 See also Foro Mussolini Stanza della Segnatura. See Papal Apartments. Tempietto. See San Pietro in Montorio Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, 27-28 Temple of Cybele, 58 Temple of Deified Trajan, 50 Temple of Fortuna Virilis/Portunus, 94-97 Temple of Hercules Victor, 96-97 Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, 2, 58, 61, 68 Temple of Peace, 53 Temple of Saturn, 18, 23-24 Temple of Venus and Roman, 33 Temple of Vesta, 25-27 Termini, 202, 213-215 Theater of Marcellus, 58, 76-77 Titian, 232-234 Tomb of Julius II, 113, 128-134 Tomb of Urban VIII, 179, 199, 201 Trevi Fountain, 136-137 Triton Fountain (Bernini), 235-236, 244 Via dei Fori Imperiali, 38-44, 51 Via Veneto, 234-235, 243 Villa Borghese, 215-216, 229 Viminal Hill, 2, 201 Weary Hercules (Lysippus), 108