Sunday, 2 June 2013

Week 6: The Galleria della Arazzia, The Capitoline and Other Museums

Galleria degli Arazzi

This contains 27 tapestries including very famous ones based on Raphael’s cartoons for Leo X. These are on the left of the Galleria degli Arazzi, close to the entrance. The first to be woven was the Miraculous Draught of Fishes, about 1517, and displayed in the Sistine Chapel in 1519. On the right are the Barberini Tapestries. Having originally hung in the Sistine Chapel, the tapestries were stolen during the Sack of Rome in 1527. Pope Paul III negotiated their return during the 1540s but, when Rome was occupied by the French in 1798, the tapestries were again stolen. Pius VII had to buy them back from a Genoese dealer in 1808. Luckily, they weathered the storm and have remained in this room save for a visit to London in 2010 where they hung next to the cartoons from which they were made.  Some say that the tapestries improved the acoustics in the Sistine Chapel, which could be true as Leo X was a keen connoisseur of music.

Origins of the Capitoline Museum.

The Capitoline Museums (Italian: Musei Capitolini) are a group of art and archaeological museums in Piazza del Campidoglio, on top of the Capitoline Hill in Rome, Italy. The museums are contained in three palazzi surrounding a central trapezoidal piazza in a plan conceived by Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1536 and executed over a period of more than 400 years. The history of the museums can be traced to 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection of important ancient bronzes to the people of Rome and located them on Capitoline Hill. Since then, the museums' collection has grown to include a large number of ancient Roman statues, inscriptions, and other artifacts; a collection of medieval and Renaissance art; and collections of jewels, coins, and other items. The museums are owned and operated by the municipality of Rome. The statue of a mounted rider in the centre of the piazza is of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. It is a copy, the original being housed on-site in the Capitoline museum. Many Roman statues were destroyed on the orders of Christian Church authorities in the Middle Ages; this statue was preserved in the erroneous belief that it depicted the Emperor Constantine, who made Christianity the official state religion of the Roman empire.

Organization of the Capitoline Museum.

Palazzo dei Conservatori.
Ground Floor: ancient sculpture; mainly Roman, but also some Greek and Egyptian.
Second Floor: Various furnishings (stucco, tapestries) and the bronze Capitoline wolf.
Third Floor: Picture Gallery; coins, medals and jewelry.
Palazzo Nuovo. Statues, inscriptions, sarcophagi, famous sculpture like the Capitoline Gaul, Capitoline Venus.
Galleria Congiunzione. Located beneath the Conservatori and the piazza itself; links the three palazzos on the piazza. Dates from the 1930s; contains 2nd century ruins of ancient dwellings, and the Galleria Lapidaria, a museum of epigraphs.
New Wing. The new great glass covered hall — the Sala Marco Aurelio — created by covering the Giardino Romano is similar to the one used for the Sala Ottagonale and British Museum Great Court. The design is by the architect Carlo Aymonino. Its volume recalls that of the oval space designed by Michelangelo for the piazza. Contains the statue of Marcus Aurelius, nowindoors for conservation reasons. 

Paintings in the Capitoline.

The picture galleries in the Capitoline consist of 9 rooms; the largest are the Cini Gallery, the Hall of Pietro da Cortona and the Hall of St Petronila. Room 1 contains examples of what we would call renaissance “primitives” by obscure artists like Banarba da Modena and Venturo dal Moro. Moving into Room 2 we encounter artists who are more “on the map,” e.g. Garofalo who is well represented in this museum.  Moving into Room 3 we see about 5-6 works by Veronese, the Bassani, Palma il Vecchio, other 16th century Venetian art, and copyists from Bologna. Room 4 has an intriguing assortment of 17th century Italian and French artists: workshop art from the Carracci, Mola, two large Moses canvases from Perrier, a David and Goliath by Courtois, and a charming allegory of Innocence from Romanelli.  Orienting ourselves in Room 4, we have two choices: a right entrance into the Hall of Pietro da Cortona, or straight ahead into the Hall of St Petronila. Let’s choose the Petronila in which Guercino’s massive altarpiece of the saint presides over an impressive selection of baroque. These include two Caravaggio’s (versions of the Fortune Teller and St John the Baptist), an appropriate Romulus and Remus by Rubens, more works by Guercino and his workshop.  Retracing our steps back into room 4, we now turn left into the large Hall of Pietro da Cortona. This is used as a lecture hall and is presided over by a bust of Cortona some of whose paintings hang on the walls. Of these the most celebrated is his Rape of the Sabine Women, an operatic response to Poussin’s version. Others include Cortona’s Portrait of Pope Urban VIII, and various obscure Italian baroque painters. Hall 5 is a rectangular room which seems more like a miscellany of paintings, either copies after Garofalo or originals by obscure artists such as Prosper Fontana. Onwards into room 6 which could be called the “Guido Reni room” as it has an “installation” of about 8 paintings by the artist. These include the large Blessed Soul, an “artistic Last Will and Testament”, and “spiritual self- portrait.” [1]  There are Cleopatra’s and Lucretias, in Reni’s “late-manner,” a Saint Sebastian as well as allegories. These are complimented by other Bolognese trained artists such as Albani and Luca Massari. The last gallery, the Cini Gallery, is a long corridor that is adorned by tapestries as well as cabinets of porcelain. More paintings are hung at the end of this including an eighteenth- century pastiche of Poussin’s Camillus and the School Master which some misguided curator has assigned to the master himself!

Images here.

1)      Vatican Tapestry, Christ’s Charge to Peter, c. 1517, warp, wool (7.2 warps per cm), Galleria degli Arazzi, Vatican, Rome, 466 x 634 cm.

2)      Raphael, Christ’s Charge to Peter, cartoon, bodycolour over charcoal underdrawing on paper mounted on canvas, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 343 x 532 cm.

3)      Workshop of Petrus Alamire, choir book, Vatican Library, Rome.

4)      Etienne Dupérac, Design for the Capitoline Hill, 1568, Engraving. The engraving shows Michelangelo's design for the Piazza del Campidoglio. The equestrian monument in the centre is the ancient Roman bronze Equestrian Monument to Marcus Aurelius.

5)      Palazzo Nuovo, 1603-54, Piazza Campidoglio, Rome.

6)      Agostino Tassi, Capriccio with the Palazzo dei Conservatori, early 1630s, Pen and ink, 15 x 20 cm, Private collection. Tassi delighted in showing the unexpected: the Palazzo dei Conservatori is placed in the midst of a busy seaport.

7)      Unknown mosaic, Tiger Attacking a Calf, 4th Century A.D., PC, Floor 2.

8)      Unknown, Mosaic of the Theatrical Masks, 100-200 A.D., Pinacoteca Capitolina, PC, Rome.

9)      Banarba da Modena, The Ascension, 1372-74, tempera on wood, Room 1, Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome.

10)   Garofolo, The Annunciation, 1528, oil on wood, 1320 x 1030 cm, Pinacoteca Capitolina, room 2.

11)   Garofolo, Virgin and Child with Saints, 1530-32, Oil on wood, 62 x 82 cm, Galleria Borghese, Rome. At the sides of the Virgin are the Archangel Michael and St Joseph, while behind her Anne and Joachim can be seen. In the painting the formal models derived from Raphael are fused with the characteristics of intense drama typical of the art of Dosso Dossi with whom Garofalo worked together in the church of Sant'Andrea in Ferrara around 1527.

12)   Dosso Dossi, The Holy Family, 1527-28, Oil on canvas, 236 x 171 cm, location nk, Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome. In addition to his responsibilities as painter to the Ferrarese court, Dosso undertook a number of commissions for altarpieces for the churches of Ferrara and Modena and their surrounding territories. To judge from its large scale and vertical format, this painting was painted as an altarpiece. The unusual prominence of Joseph - almost equal to that of the Virgin - suggests that the respective altar bore a dedication to him. The painting shows the influence of both Raphael and Giulio Romano.

13)   Caravaggio, St John the Baptist (Youth with Ram), 1602, Oil on canvas, 129 x 94 cm, Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome. This painting exists in two versions, both of which are probably by Caravaggio (who frequently copied his own paintings). Both versions are in Rome, the other in the Galleria Doria Pamphilj. The image is a masterpiece of virtuosity whose appeal lies in its soft, caressing light and velvety rendering of cloth, flesh, and plants. The figure is identifiable as St John only virtue of the symbols of Christ displayed in the painting: the ram (sacrificial victim), and the grape-leaves (from whose red juice, akin to the blood of Christ, springs life); otherwise the iconographical subject (the simple, immediately apparent image) appears as a nude youth with an ironic, if not allusive, expression. Its cultivated content and its destination for an aristocratic patron are underscored by the artist's explicit use of a great figurative source of the past: Michelangelo's Ignudi from the Sistine Ceiling. But whereas Michelangelo created abstract and ideal figures with cold lights and a merely theoretical plasticism, Caravaggio models his figure on the careful observation of nature, achieving an image of perfect realism.

14)   Peter Paul Rubens, Romulus and Remus, 1615-16, Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome, Hall of St Petronila,  2120 x 2130 cm. Romulus and his twin brother Remus were the legendary founder of Rome. Their mother, a Vestal Virgin, explained her pregnancy by claiming she had been violated by Mars, the god of war. She was thrown into prison and the children were ordered to be drowned in the Tiber. They survived and were reared by a she-wolf, and by a woodpecker that watched over them and brought them food. The wolf is seen lying under a tree giving suck to an infant, while another plays nearby. The herdsman, Faustulus, who discovered them, is approaching. The god of the River Tiber reclines on his urn. Under the rule of Romulus the city of Rome grew in size and strength.

15)   13th and late 15th century AD or c. 500-480 BC, The Capitoline Wolf, bronze, Capitoline Museum, Rome.

16)   Pietro da Cortona, Rape of the Sabine Women, oil on canvas, Pinacoteca Capitolina, Hall of Cortona. The Sacchetti family commissioned this painting in the 1620s when Pietro da Cortona was just making his name in Roman circles. They thus became his first patrons and introduced him to the world of aristocratic commissions. During the first two decades of the century, Caravaggio's naturalistic style had been rivaled by the Carracci cousins' academic style of classicism. Each school had its own followers and some attempts had been made to bring the two together. The arrival of Pietro da Cortona, at the same time as Bernini erupted onto the scene as the preferred sculptor and architect of the Barberini pope Urban VIII, were together sufficient to transform art in Rome and to create a true Baroque style.Pietro da Cortona's painting stands out for its open theatricality, lively gestures, richness of colour, and brushwork, as well as its diffused light. The Sabine women being lifted into the air deliberately derive from Bernini's works, such as Apollo and Daphne, as if to underline the bond between the two artists. There is little real violence in his treatment of this scene from Roman legend, merely a splendidly theatrical display of half-clothed bodies.

17)   Pietro da Cortona, Marcello Sacchetti, c. 1626, Oil on canvas, 133 x 98 cm, Galleria Borghese, Rome.   

18)   Guido Reni, “Amor Divino” aka “Blessed Soul,” 1641-2, oil on canvas, 252 x 153 cm, Pinacoteca Capitolina, room 6. Mentioned in Reni’s death inventory, along with a small oil sketch of the same subject. Probably entered the gallery via the Sacchetti coll. Final picture follows the sketch closely; good demonstration of Reni’s ultima maniera. (Spear).

19)   Guido Reni, Woman with a Crown, 1640-2, oil on canvas, 91 x 73 cm, Pinacoteca Capitolina, room 6.

20)   Guido Reni, St Matthew and the Angel, 1635-40, Oil on canvas, 85 x 68 cm, Pinacoteca, Vatican. Guido Reni repeated the theme of the apostles and evangelists several times. There are in existence two copies of the evangelist series in Rome and Naples. The St Matthew belonging to the Vatican Picture Gallery is very similar in typology to those of the two series, it could be part of yet another lost series..

21)   Lucio Massari (1569-1623), The Probatic Pool, 1605-6, oil on copper, 510 x 390 cm, Room 6, Pinacoteca Capitolina, LM was an Italian painter of the School of Bologna. He can be described as painting during both Mannerist and early-Baroque periods.He was born in Bologna, where he initially apprenticed with an unknown painter by the name of Spinelli, then the Mannerist painter Bartolomeo Passarotti, but also worked with Bartolomeo Cesi. In 1592, he joined the Carracci studio or the Academy of the Incamminati, and remained attached to Ludovico Carracci for many years. In 1604, he worked with Ludovico to fresco Stories of San Mauro, San Benedetto and others in the cloister of San Michele in Bosco. In 1607, he collaborated with Lionello Spada and Francesco Brizio in frescoes for the Palazzo Bonfioli, in Bologna. In 1610, he visited Rome, remaining under the patronage of Cardinal Facchinetti, and befriended Domenichino. In 1612, he completed the frescoes left unfinished by Bernardino Poccetti in a chapel of the Certosa di Galluzzo, near Florence. He painted the main altarpiece for the church of Santa Maria in Guadi in San Giovanni in Persiceto. He returned to Bologna in 1614, and soon travels with Francesco Albani to work in Mantua. He is said to have spent so much time in hunting, fishing, and the delights of the countryside, that he neglected painting, though his biography shows him to be exceedingly prolific in altarpieces. Among his pupils were Sebastiano Brunetti, Antonio Randa, and Fra Bonaventura Bisi.

22)   Bartolommeo Pasarotti, Portrait of a Man with a Dog, 1585-87, Oil on canvas, 57 x 47 cm, room nk, Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome. Passerotti was a much sought-after portraitist in Bologna in the latter half of the sixteenth century, immediately preceding the naturalistic reforms of the Carracci brothers. He achieved high quality and originality in portraiture. In the Portrait of a Man with a Dog Passerotti presented a novel compositional idea: the young man clasps the spotty dog to his chest, while he turns to the viewer with a clear and intense gate, as if he had been suddenly addressed. The identity of the young man is not known, but he was certainly a member of a prominent family in Bologna.

23)   Pietro Paolo Bonzi, Landscape with Shepherds and Sheep, 1621, Oil on canvas, 47 x 64 cm, Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome. During his lifetime Bonzi was particularly renowned for his still-lifes, but, like Filippo Napoletano, he was also active as a painter of landscapes. His output in this genre became entangled with that of Agostino Tassi, even though the two do not really have much in common. In addition to this canvas, Bonzi's certain works include The Martyrdom of St Sebastian and The Rest of Hercules (both in the Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome), Nymph and Faun (Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini, Rome) and Latona and the Frogs (Musée du Louvre, Paris).Bonzi was clearly influenced by Annibale Carracci and to an even greater extent by Domenichino, but his compositions are more open on both sides and his terrain much flatter. His foregrounds spread out freely without obstacles such as large rocks or bushes, almost inviting the viewer to walk into the picture. His rather awkward figures tend to move parallel to the picture plane in a frieze-like procession. In the early 1620s he worked at the Palazzo Borghese on the Quirinal hill with Filippo Napoletano, each decorating different rooms. In this landscape Bonzi's close attention to naturalistic detail suggests the influence of Bril. Establishing a chronology for Bonzi's landscapes is almost impossible, but this work is perhaps not too far in date from the Pallavicini-Rospigliosi frescoes. The shepherds' nakedness indicates that the scene is not contemporary (even though sheep-farming had largely replaced cultivation in the Roman campagna around this time), but rather an episode from Virgil's Arcadia.

24)   Giovan Battista Viola, Penitent Magdalen in a Landscape, c. 1610, Oil on canvas, 48 x 63 cm, Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome. This painting is a rather free rendering of Annibale Carracci's Penitent Magdalen in a Landscape (Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome). The attribution of the painting to Viola is uncertain, formerly it was variously attributed to Annibale Carracci, Francesco Albani or Domenichino and subsequently given to Viola, Giovan Francesco Grimaldi or Antonio Carracci. One possibility is that the landscape is by Viola and the skillfully executed figure by Pietro Paolo Bonzi.   

2)   Agostino Tassi, Competition on the Capitoline Hill, 1630s, Oil on canvas, Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome, room nk. The picture depicts the competition to climb the greasy pole on the Capitoline Hill. The picture records the still incomplete state of the square, lacking the counterpart to the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the left side.

27)   After Poussin, probably early 18th century pastiche, Camillus and the Schoolmaster of the Falerii, Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome, oil on canvas, 430 x 340 cm.

28)   Nicolas Poussin, Camillus and the Schoolmaster of the Falerii, Pasadena Museum of Fine Arts, Calif., oil on canvas, 100 x 137 cm.

[1] Spear, The Divine Guido, 317.

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