Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Week 4: From Neoclassicism to Napoleon

Commotions and Collections in 18th Century Rome. 

In their indispensable Taste and the Antique, Haskell and Penny were mainly “concerned with the creation, the diffusion and the eventual dissolution of a “canon” of universally admired antique statues.”   Where the Vatican was concerned the “dissolution” of this canon accelerated during the eighteenth century with a number of key developments ranging from the removal of Vatican statues to the Capitoline museums, and on a much audacious scale, the looting of treasures by the Napoleonic armies towards the end of the century. Also, in this century more and more sculpture is dug up, moved around, re-displayed, annexed, bargained for and sold. It is also the century where academic and erudite interests converged as reflected in the capricci or imaginary views of Rome painted by Panini. These kind of works show accurate representations of famous buildings and statues in Rome: the Colosseum, Trajan’s Column, the Laocoön, the Aldobrandini Wedding and many others known to travellers, scholars and antiquarians in 18th Century Rome. 

The Vatican Collections and the Capitoline.

“The first time that I went into the Capitoline Museum I felt a shock of electricity. I do not know how to describe to you the impression made on me by the bringing together of so much richness. This is no longer just a collection: it is the dwelling place of the gods of ancient Rome; the school of the philosophers; a senate composed of the kings of the East. What can I tell you of it? A whole population of statues inhabits the Capitol; it is the great book of antiquarians.”[1]

Today the Capitoline form a complex of museums devoted to art and archaeology in the Piazza del Campadoglio, on top of the Capitoline Hill in Rome. Formed of three buildings surrounding a central trapezoidal piazza, they were part of a plan thought up Michelangelo in 1536 and subsequently executed over the next 400 years. Since Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection of important ancient bronzes to the people of Rome, the Capitoline has amassed a large collection of ancient Roman statues, inscriptions, and other artifacts; this is supplemented by items of medieval and Renaissance art, not to mention collections of jewels, coins, and other items. The museums are owned and operated by the municipality of Rome. One of the reasons the Capitoline museums are full of Vatican sculpture is that Cardinal Albani transferred many of the papal treasures to the municipal museums. In this period many sculptures emerged, or were purchased by the papacy. For example in 1720, Pope Clement XI bought from the Cesi family a group of well-known sculptures including the Weeping Dacia and the Barberini Captives. Later there was a spate of new discoveries: these included the Faun in Antico and Furietti Centaurs dug up in 1736. Other statues originally in the Vatican collections included the Capitoline Flora, excavated in 1744.  

Hadrianic Refinement and the Vatican. 

Cardinal Albani (1692-1779) was known as “restorer in chief of Antiquity.” He employed the formidable antiquarian Winckelmann as his librarian, who eked out a meagre income despite living in the grand surroundings of the Villa Albani. This seat had gardens planned on the Versailles principle, but Albani more probably had in mind Hadrian’s villa (above) which was a retreat in Tivoli from Rome, 18 miles away.[2]   Hadrian was the “best-educated and the most intellectual of all the Roman emperors,” and he was very keen on music and the arts, as well as developing a love of Greek art and culture.”[3] His sculpture gardens in his villa at Tivoli contained “an elaborate sculptural program that reflected Hadrian’s eclectic taste and documented the extent of his travels.”[4] The current site of Hadrian’s villa boasts a canopus, “a long pool meant to stand for the canal that led from Alexandria to the city of Canopus, also in the Nile delta.”[5] It is easy to see how this blend of the erudite and the scenic would have invited comparisons with the sculpture gardens of the renaissance popes. As Haskell and Penny speculate, Hadrian’s villa might even have been considered the equivalent of the sculpture court of Julius II.[6] Renewed interest in Hadrian’s villa certainly inspired the collecting decisions made by the Vatican curators, especially in the Museo Pio-Clementino. Art from the Hadrianic period is very well represented in the Vatican sculpture galleries. These include such works as the Boy with Goose and the Eros of Cintecelle. But perhaps the art that most captures the Hellenistic taste of Hadrian’s time are the Apollo Musagetes and his muses which may have originally adorned the library of a cultured citizen in Hadrian’s time.   

The Museo Pio-Clementino

Clement XIV and Pius VI were the founders of the Museo-Pio Clemetino. Apart from the renewed interest in sculpture in Rome, the creation of the museum probably reflected the religious and political currents of the eighteenth-century.  When Clement dissolved the Jesuit order in 1773, he considered the Counter-Reformation, which had threatened the existence of the Belvedere collection, at an end.[7] Little had been done to the Vatican collections since the reign of Pius V; apart from the accommodation of several gifts, bequests and purchases had been split up into a “Museo Cristiano” and a “Museo Profano” Clement’s project consisted of two major stages: refurbish the ground floor of Innocent VIII’s villa as a museum; the statue court would have a handsome octagonal loggia. A portico was added to the Belvedere courtyard as can be seen in an engraving by Vincenzo Feoli, all of this supervised by the antiquarian Viscounti who was second only to Winckelmann in his knowledge of classical culture.[8] Clement XIV died in 1774, much mocked for his “supposed attachment to paganism” and his purchase of many sculptures. His museum survived for only a short time before it was drastically altered by his successor Pius VI. Clement’s successor Giaangelo Braschi took the name of Pius VI. As treasurer he had been the energy behind Clement’s artistic reforms. Once in power he ruthlessly pulled down Innocent’s Chapel thus destroying frescoes by Mantegna, carefully looked after under Clement. Statues such as the Apollo Belvedere, the Laocoön, the Commodus as Hercules and the Venus Felix were left in the standing court, but other sculptures such as the Tiber and Nile were relocated. 

Napoleon and the Chariot of Triumphal Art. 

 “It was during the campaign of 1794 in the Low Countries that the Revolutionary Administration in Paris first proclaimed the principle that the Louvre, newly established as a public museum, was the rightful home for such masterpieces of art as could be seized from conquered territory- just as the Bibliothéque Nationale and the Jardin des Plantes were to be supplied with books, manuscripts and specimens of natural history. In the vast amount of rhetoric that this decision stimulated it is impossible to disentangle fully the parts played by brutal greed, high-minded idealism and the appeal to antique precedent. A series of committees was set up and with great efficiency and aesthetic discrimination these supervised a form of looting for which no exact legal framework yet existed.”[9]   

Pope Pius IV died in Valance, on the Rhone, as a prisoner of Napoleon, at the age of 82, on August 29th, 1799. Following the agreement made at the Treaty of Tolentino on Feb 19, 1797, the chief works of his museum were to be delivered to the French. On July 27th and 28th 1798 the plundered art was paraded in a ceremony organised like a Roman triumphal procession. When the Museé Napoleon opened in the Louvre on April 10th, 1800, Napoleon insisted on personally affixing an inscription to the base of the statue of the Apollo Belvedere. As Georg Daltrop points out, far from extinguishing the spirit of the museum, it was to burn brighter with the return of many of the statues back to Rome.[10]     


1)      Gian Paolo Panini, Imaginary gallery of Ancient Roman Art, c. 1755, Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, c. 1755, oil on canvas.

2)      Interior of St Peter's in Rome, 1750s, Oil on canvas, 75 x 100 cm, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg.

3)      Panini, Gallery of Views of Ancient Rome, 1758, Oil on canvas, 231 x 303 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris.

4)      Weeping Dacia, Musei Capitolini, marble height (keystone), 120 m; (panel) 0.75 m, also known as Germania, Conqueror Province, Weeping Province, Woman Weeping, may have originated as the keystone of an arch in Trajan’s forum. In the Cesi sculpture gardens, though not shown by Heemskerck in his views of the gardens between 1532 and 1536. Purchased by Clement XI and two flanking Barbarian prisoners and placed in the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori in 1719. Always thought to have been a personification of the province Dacia. No evidence that it was specially admired. In the 18th century Dacia increased in fame- appears in Batoni’s portrait of Peter Beckford in 1766, the Duke of Hamilton in 1775, and William Bankes in 1777. Waned in importance towards the end of the 19th century.  

5)      Pompeo Batoni, Portrait of Peter Beckford, Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, probably 1760s.

6)      Antinous Bas-Relief, Villa Albani, Rome, marble, height 1.02 m, typical of the productions attached to Hadrian’s court, dated to the years between the death of Antinous (A.D. 130) and Hadrian (A.D. 138). Recorded in an engraving after an engraving by Batoni (1736). It belonged to Cardinal Albani and had been excavated at Hadrian’s Villa. Relief was restored and placed above a chimney piece in a room named after it, on the piano nobile of the Villa Albani, comp by Oct 1762. Taken by the French in 1798 together with other antiquities in the Villa. From the moment of its discovery acclaimed as a masterpiece, sometimes even competing with the Laocoön. Gibbon: “admirably finished, soft well-turned and full of flesh.” Most associated with Winckelmann “less enthusiastic about Antinous’s relation with Hadrian. He believed that the right hand had been restored wrongly and should have held a pair of reins, not a garland of flowers. W considered the A relief that represented the highest peak of art attained under Hadrian. 

7)      Pompeo Batoni, Portrait of a Young Man, 1760-5, Metropolitan Museum of Art, oil on canvas, 7 1/8 x 69 1/4 in. (246.7 x 175.9 cm).

8)      Portrait of Antinous as Bacchus, 130-138 A.D., Rome, Vatican, Museo Pio- Clementino, Hadrianic period.

9)      Anton von Maron, Portrait of Winckelmann, 1768, Schlossmuseum, Weimar, oil on canvas.

10)   View of Villa Albani, Rome.

11)   Canopus at Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli.

12)   Boy with a Goose, Roman, 1st Century A.D., after a Hellenistic Original of the 3rd-2nd century B.C., Pentelic marble, height 33 ½ (85cm). In 1789 this sculpture was restored, replacing the heads of the boy and the goose. The statue had been discovered that year during excavations by the pontifical museums in the “Roma Vecchia” in the villa “Sette Bassi” in the Via Lantina. A small boy tests his strength by by wrapping his arm around a goose, rather resembling a small Hercules. Pliny mentions a similar figure in bronze. Composition in the group of a pyramid. The original work testifies to the genre and pathos of Greek art of the third century BC. The Roman copyist forsook symbolism and genre and opted for function- it was actually a fountain, water piped through a support at the back. The Met’s reading of this as a sculpture for a shrine of healing, perhaps for a small boy is ingenious, but seems optimistic.

13)   Johann Gerog Heck, Iconographic Encyclopaedia of Science, Literature, and Art, 1857.

14)   Eros of Centocelle, Roman, 2nd century A.D., (Hadrianic period), after a Greek original from the early fourth century B.C., marble, height 33 ½ inches (85 cm), Vatican, Museo Pio-Clemetino. Found at Centocelle in the Via Labicana by Gavin Hamilton, from whom Clement XIV acquired the statue in April 1772. Originally he stood upright, most of his weight on his left leg, the right one relaxed, evident from the current condition of the statue. The right hand may have held an arrow. Proportions classic reflecting the influence of Polykleitos, especially in the way the body is slightly closed on the supporting side. May have been based on a bronze original, while the lifelessness of the marble are typical of roman copies of the fourth century. Though Eros appeared in Greek gymnasiums, in Roman times Eros was the God of death, so this may be a tomb sculpture.

15)   Apollo Musagetes, Roman, 2nd century A.D., (Hadrianic period), after a Greek original, marble, height 79 ¼ inches (202.5 cm), Vatican, Museo Pio-Clemetino.  Discovered at the villa of Cassius at Tivoli, along with eight statues of the Muses. Some restorations, but the head has been part of the sculpture since antiquity. On the arm of the kithara is a relief of Marsyas. Though conceived along Greek lines, the restraint of the drapery is typical of Hadrian’s time. Not seated like the muses, so maybe created as a single figure, and placed next to them afterwards.

16)   Seated Muse, Calliope, Roman, 2nd century A.D., (Hadrianic period), after a Greek original, Pentelic marble, height 50 13/16 (129 cm), Vatican, Museo Pio-Clemetino. Head not the original. Writing tablet in left hand identifies her as Calliope, the Muse of heroic poetry, the epic and the elegy. Her right hand probably originally held a stylus, and she leaned on her right arm. Despite the meditative attitude the pose is natural, as are the deep modelling of the drapery.

17)   Pierini da Vinci, Cosimo I as Patron of Pisa, 1549, Marble, 73 x 160 cm, Musei Vaticani, Vatican.  Until 1981, this relief was set into the south wall of the Galleria delle Statue of the MPC, which once served as the principal wing of the Palazzetto of the Belvedere of Innocent VIII, on the site of the chapel decorated by Mantegna. The relief depicts Cosimo I de Medici, of Tuscany surrounded by personifications of his virtues, expelling from Pisa the many vices. The scene represents Cosimo’s founding of the new university of Pisa in 1542-3. The likeliest reason for the inclusion of Pierino’s relief in the MPC- the only renaissance sculpture in the museum- was to draw a comparison with the sculpture of antiquity.

18)   Furietti Centaurs, Rome, Musei Capitolini, height (young centaur): 1.56 m; (old centaur): 1.34, thought to be copies commissioned by Hadrian of earlier original bronzes from the Eastern Mediterrean. The sculptures were found together at Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli by Monsignor Giuseppe Alessandro Furietti in December 1736; they were the outstanding pieces of his collection of antiquities, which he refused to give to Pope Benedict XIV— at the cost of a cardinal's hat. Furietti was eventually created cardinal priest, by Pope Clement XIII in the consistory of 24 September 1759. After the cardinal's death, his heirs sold the centaurs and the Furietti mosaic of four drinking doves for 14,000 scudi, and they have been in the Capitoline Museum ever since. Both statues bear the signatures of Aristeas and Papias of Aphrodisias, a city in Asia Minor— we cannot be certain about the exact relationship of the signatures to the sculptures, whether as originators of the model or sculptors of these versions. Where the sculptures were produced is not sure either: whether in Aphrodisias, or whether the artists, of whom nothing else is known, had come from there to Rome. To judge by the stylistic date these Hadrianic copies will date to the late 1st or early 2nd century AD. They are generally assumed to be copies of 2nd century BC bronze[4] Hellenistic originals, though recent critical study, notably by Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, suggests that many sculptural types usually thought to be Hellenistic are in fact Roman pastiches or inventions.

19)   Raphael Anton Mengs, Portrait of Pope Clement XIII, 1758, Oil on canvas, Museo del Settecento Veneziano, Ca' Rezzonico, Venice.

20)   Faun in Rosso Antico, Rome, Musei Capitolini, height: 1.68 m, copy of a work possibly made in the workshops of Aristeas and Papias (authors of the Furietti Centaurs). Most sources are satisfied that this was found at Hadrian’s villain 1738. It was given to the Capitoline museum by Benedict XIV in 1746. In 1817 it was placed in a room specially named after it. Reputation of the Faun was partially dependent on the much admired variety of close-grained dark red marble out of which it was made. Travellers were also enthusiastic about the carving. Against that note that Winckelmann does not mention it, nor did the French remove the statue to Paris.

21)   Raphael Anton Mengs, Allegory of the Pio Clementino Museum, 1772, fresco, Vatican Library, 1772.

22)   Domenico di Angelis, Pope Pius VI guides the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus to the Museo Pio-Clementino in 1784.

23)   Vincenzo Feoli, Belvedere Courtyard of Museo Pio-Clementino, engraving, c. 1769.

24)   Venus Felix, Rome, Musei Vaticani (Belvedere Courtyard), marble, height: 2.14 m, regarded as an Imperial portrait, probably of the second half of the second century, perhaps of the younger Faustina. Recorded in the papal collections by 1509, and described in the Belvedere courtyard in 1523. Its site may have been Santa Croce. Group esteemed by visitors to the Belvedere gallery in the 16th century, illustrated by Perrier among the most admired statues in Rome. It seemed to have declined in popularity and neither Winckleman or Visconti expressed any enthusiasm for the statue, and significantly its broken arm was not repaired during the establishment of the Museu Pio-Clementino. The French didn’t want it.

25)   Pudicity, Rome, Musei Vaticani, (Braccio Nuovo), marble, height, 2.09 m, also known as Faustina, Livia, Melpomene, Sabina, thought to be a portrait of the late first century A.D.. First in the Mattei collection; sold to Clement XIV in 1770. Originally in MPC, but moved to Braccio Nuovo in the mid nineteenth-century. Winckelmann believed it was a statue of LIvia, though he probably didn’t like the statue. Despite the statue’s fame it does not seem to have been much copied, partly because it was considered a portrait. By the end of the 19th century scholars realised that the draperies and attitude of the Pudicity originated in sepulchral sculptures in Asia Minor in the second century BC. 

26)   Portrait of Augustus as Imperator, from the villa of Livia at Primaporta, Rome, Braccio Nuovo, Tiberian copy of A.D. 15 of an Augustan original of 20 B.C. The dating of the Prima Porta piece is widely contested. It is thought to be a copy of a bronze original.[1] The sculptor may have been Greek.[2] This original, along with other high honors, was devoted to Augustus by the Senate in 20 BC and set up in a public place. It was found in his wife's villa.It is also contested that this particular sculpture is a reworking of a bronze original, possibly a gift from Tiberius Caesar to his mother Livia (since it was found in her villa Ad Gallinas Albas[3] in the vicinity of the ninth mile-marker of the via Flaminia, and close to a late Imperial gate called Prima Porta) after Augustus' death and in honor of the woman who had campaigned so long for him to become the next Caesar. This would explain the divine references to Augustus in the piece, notably his being barefoot, the standard representation of gods or heroes in classical iconography. Also, the reliefs in the heroic cuirass depict the retrieval of Crassus' standards captured by the Parthians, an event in which the young Tiberius himself took a part, serving as intermediary with the Parthian king, in the act that is shown in the central scene of the armor, possibly his grandest service to his adopted father Augustus. With the introduction of Tiberius as the figure responsible for the retrieval of the standards, he associates himself with Augustus, the emperor and the new god, as Augustus himself had done previously with Julius Caesar. Under this hypothesis, the dating of the statue can be placed during the first years of Tiberius' reign as emperor (AD 14 — AD 37).

27)   Unknown Artist, Apollo Belvedere shown by Napoleon to visitors to his new museum of the French Empire in Paris, 1897.

Week 4 skydrive images available here.

[1] Comte de Caylus, quoted in Haskell and Penny, 64.
[2] Francis Haskell, History and its Images, 352.
[3] Diana E.E. Kleiner, Roman Art (Yale, 1992), 237.
[4] Kleiner, Roman Art, 244.
[5] Kleiner, Roman Art,246.
[6] Haskell and Penny, Taste and the Antique,
[7] Art of the Papal Collections, Met exhibition, 116.
[8] Haskell and Penny, Taste and the Antique, 71.
[9] Haskell and Penny, Taste and the Antique, 108.
[10] Daltrop, Art of the Papal Collections, 119.

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