Thursday, 21 April 2016

Rome's Birthday at the Museum: The Palazzo dei Conservatori

This year I decided to celebrate the birthday of Rome (April the 21st, if you don't know yet) by profitting of the free entrance to the civic museums.
The Musei Capitolini is one of my favourite places, so I decided to pick them up for a quick "walk tour" with you guys.
The Musei Capitolini are the first public museum of Europe.
It was created on 1471 by the will of Pope Sixtus IV, who donated a group of bronze statues of great symbolic value to the People of Rome (they were the She-Wolf, the Spinarius, the Camillus and the colossal head of Constantine, with hand and globe), as he felt that they belonged to the citizens themselves rather than the Church.
From this first donation more and more Popes added to the collection, some of them "to get rid" of heathen subjects overpopulating the rooms of the Vatican, others to increase the value of the city, until the huge work of archaeological preservation and collection dating 1870, with the declaration of Rome as the Capital of Italy.

But let's go in order and start our little walk in the Palazzo dei Conservatori.
The first thing we met is the Main Staircase, built on 1570, a beautiful example of Baroque use of stucco. This area preserves some Roman reliefs coming from a monument dedicated to Hadrian and celebrating his deeds.
From there our first stop are the so-called "Conservator's Apartments": those were rooms destined to the magistates and their offices including public and private Council meetings.
The decorations and contents are dedicated to the celebration of the history and culture of Rome; the earliest cycle of frescoes goes back to the beginning of the XVI century, and the last adjustments were done after the renovations of Michelangelo.

The first room is the Hall of the Horatii and Curiatii, featuring the frescoes of Giuseppe Cesari, the "Knight of Arpino", Caravaggio's first teacher and rival.
The "kings" of the hall, though, are the statues of the two rival popes, Pope Urban VIII Barberini and Pope Innocent X Pamphilj-- They are the works of, respectively, Bernini and Algardi, two rivals themselves.




Next is the Hall of Captains.
The frescoes are by Tommaso Laureti, and the room is dedicated to famous men and Captains of the Pontifical Militia. They are all dressed in ancient Roman costumes even if they are dated starting the end of the XVII century, which is indeed entertaining!

The Hall of Trumphs features a wonderful coffered wooden ceiling, a frescoed frieze dating 1569 and, among other prestigious bronze pieces, the Spinarius.

Next is the Hall of the She-Wolf, preserved in this room since its donation to the People of Rome on 1471 (yeah, the one that you can spot outside is a copy!). On the walls you can spot fragments of Consular and Triumphal Fasti, lists of magistrates and triumphal victors from the time of the republic to the Augustan Age discovered in the Roman Forum and part of an arch dedicated to Augustus.


Me and my friends had some fun here, trying to decypher the "meaning" of this room! It's called The Hall of Geese, when the bronze birds that give it its name are ducks!
Main features of the Hall, the "tribute" to Isis, a bust of Michelangelo and a famous head of Medusa by Bernini.

Next are some tinier, various rooms featuring private donations-- in the Room of Eagles the most interesting feature is an ancient, patchworked statue of Artemis of Ephesus, and the ancient finds of the Hall Castellani:

The three Halls of the Horti preserve the statues and decorations of the private gardens of Ancient Rome's high dignitaries; of course my favourite group is the one of Commodus as Hercules and his sea centaurs boys:












Main course of the museum, the Exedra of Marcus Aurelius, where you can see the "real" statue of Marcus Aurelius (again, the one outside is a copy) and other wonderful pices, included the colossal head of Constantine with hand and globe and the group of the Lion that attacks a Horse:



After this first inspection, we reached the second floor so to access the Pinacoteca! The Capitoline picture gallery is the oldest public collection of paintings, dated 1748, with later acquisitions of Titian, Caravaggio and Rubens. Noteworthy are also the collection of Medieval and Reinassance's art.

A later addition to the Pinacoteca is the huge, amusing collection of porcelains by Francesco Cini, a donation of 1881:
It was such an intense and fullfilling visit that-- I didn't manage to watch the whole complex! Well, it's an excuse to go back there again, no?


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