Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The "Rooms of the Nazareni" at Casino Giustiniani Massimo

I mentioned in my previous posts the contributions in Rome of Preraffaelites and Bentvueghels, it looks like it's the time for some German artists to celebrate-- So today I'll spend a few words on the Nazareni, and their work in the so-called Casino Giustiniani Massimo.

Designed by Borromini, the "little house" that was part of the "countryside" residence of Marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani was meant to be a place far from the noise of the city dedicated to his free time.
The original precints of the villa included a huge plot of land where the Marquis could hunt or ride his horses, and vineyards.
What remains now is the tiny casino, the laid-back residence of the Marquis, mostly dedicated to the collection of his antiquities.
By looking at the building, you can still spot the decorative insertions of ancient Roman sarcophagi, a trend at the time.


The collection of the Marquis was scattered all over Europe on latter years, but in the courtyard there can still be spotted the "Giustiniano", a pastiche of an ancient torso with a newly sculpted head dedicated to Emperor Justinian, a figure that this powerful family from Genoa liked to claim as their ancestor.
It was the far XVII century, and two centuries later the complex would be acquired by another Roman nobleman, Carlo Massimo.
He was the one who invited the Nazarenes in there with the request to fresco the three little rooms on the ground floor, tasks that the guys took care of in the span of ten years, from 1819 to 1829.
The idea of a "sublime nutshell of Italian literature" found its imagery in the depiction of three fundamental masterpieces: the Jerusalem Delivered, the Orlando Furioso and the Divine Comedy.









The completion of the huge task took some time and the work didn't proceed smoothly.
The Room of Tasso (dedicated to "Jerusalem Delivered") was the work of Friedrich Overbeck, the charismatic leader of the movement; he took care of the most of the frescoes of the place, but abandoned the project on 1827 after the death of Carlo because he disapproved the "profanity" of the Massimo family, far from his religious inspiration.
The Room of Ariosto" (dedicated to "Orlando Furioso") was token care by Julius Schnorr Von Carosfeld.
Last but not least, the third room, dedicated to Dante, was worked on by Philipp Veit, who took care of the "Paradise" on the ceiling, Franz Horny, who frescoed the decorative vegetations, and Joseph Anton Koch, who took care of the "Hell" and "Purgatory".
As Overbeck left once Carlo Massimo was dead to head for a trip to Assisi, the rest of the frescoes would be finished by Joseph F├╝hrich, a newbie in the group, from 1827 to 1828.

The Nazarene Movement had a short history: on 1830 it was disbanded as Overbeck was the only member left. He died in Rome on 1869. His tomb can be found in the church of San Bernardo alle Terme
The impression that you get from these Rooms is that of an elegant, calculated refinement.
The group took their inspiration from the masters of the past, and despite the attempt to copy colours, poses and mood, you can't help but notice the "modernity" behind a certain touch...

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