Along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, between Piazza Navona and Campo de 'Fiori, inside Palazzo della Farnesina
ai Baullari you find the Super Museum Barracco.
As it should be the Super Museum is housed in that building, designed by the great Antonio da Sangallo the Younger,
that represents one of the jewels of the Roman Renaissance.
Among other things, the building was constructed over a Roman domus (=palace), ruins which can be visited.
|G. Barracco - click to enlarge
Giovanni Barracco (1829 – 1914) dedicated his life to collecting works of art that better represent the evolution of the ancient cultures, covering a span of time from the third millennium BC and High Middle Ages.
The 400 works on display, all of exceptional attractiveness, were chosen with extreme accuracy, as evidence models of each culture presented.
“I see that it is no longer possible to study in depth the Greek art without taking into account the patterns of the oldest art which gave the first impulse to Greek art”.
Barracco wrote in 1893.
The visit to the museum begins, therefore, with a section devoted to Egyptian art. The extraordinary collection covers a period of more than two thousand years, starting from the first dynasties to get to the Ptolemaic dynasty.
Relief from the tomb of Nefer, Fourth Dynasty (2575-2465 BC).
Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty (1525 - 1504 BC).
Sethi I, Pharaoh of the nineteenth dynasty (1290-1276 BC).
The lion's head at the time of Ramesses.
While to Bes, an ancient Egyptian god, are dedicated:
the stone of the late Ptolemaic period (200-30 BC);
the statue of the Roman period (first century A.D.).
Admire the beautiful mask of the mummy of the first century BC
and the mask-portrait of the Roman era.
Finally memorable is the portrait, which Barracco, as well as the University of Cambridge, detect like that of Julius Caesar depicted as an Egyptian high priest, then going back to the time of the Alexandrian war and the consequent subjection of Egypt and his relationship with Cleopatra (48 BC).
To the Egyptian follows a section dedicated to the Assyrian art, which houses works from the period between the reign of Ashurnasirpal II (885-860 BC) and the reign of Ashurbanipal (669-631 BC). The Assyrian king, when took possession of the kingdom, adopt a new name, so the name Ashurbanipal, the last of the great Assyrian kings, means: Assyrian King (Pal) of all (Ban) Ashur-Ban-Pal. The word Ban in ancient Greek language becomes Pan (all) that reminds us the connections between cultures called by Barracco.
Among the works of great beauty are the reliefs dating from the reign of Ashurbanipal, from the palace of Nineveh, including: grooms and horses in high harness,
who are preparing for battle,
archery in full uniform.
To the reign of Sennacherib, 708-691 BC, belongs the relief depicting horsemen and slingers going to attack, and the prey of the hunt.
From the palace of Nimrod, dating from the reign of Ashurnasirpal, comes the winged genius. Notable finally two memorial stones of the fifth century BC.
|Memorial stones of the fifth century BC - click to enlarge
The Etruscan collection presents few works but of great quality.
Of particular beauty are two portraits of women of the third century BC, found one in Orvieto,
the other in Bolsena.
The section dedicated to the Cypriot art is a fascinating rarity.
Most of the exhibits are the fifth century BC.
We suggest three spectacular portraits: Herakles Melqart, dating to the end of the sixth century;
a portrait of a man, beginning of the fifth century BC and, yet, Herakles Melqart beginning of the fifth century.
And finally the small beautiful chariot
of the fifth century.
Chariot of the fifth century
For its wealth we present the section devoted to Greek-Roman art, divided into:
original Greek, Roman rework from Polyclitus, portraits of famous men, Roman rework of Greek originals, and then the original Romans.
The Greek originals come largely from Attica, the region of Athens.
They bear witness to the evolution of art over the course of two centuries.
Among the many works on display we offer: Athena of the fifth century BC, the beautiful old bearded
of the fourth century, a manly portrait of the fourth century, Dionysus of the third century, Priapus of the third century
and finally the portrait of a girl
that does not come from Attica, but is sourced Hellenistic.
Polyclitus (fifth century BC), got a great success among the Romans, who intensively devoted themselves to the replica of his statues.
Work all the more meritorious since all the works, all the masterpieces of Polyclitus have been lost.
It is good to remember that what we see are Roman replica, that had to satisfy the taste of the Romans.
From the Baths of Caracalla are Doryphorus (=who bears the spear) and the lovely Amazon torso.
Among the other works we suggest: Heracles, Diadumenus, (the hero with the bandage of the victory on his forehead) and yet Doryphorus.
The Romans were very fond of portraiture, by the way it is not surprising that they dedicated to the elaboration of the portraits of the great figures whose originals were sculpted by leading Greek artists.
Among these we see:
Homer, the fifth century BC;
Pericles portrait by Kresylas, the great greek sculptor of the fifth century, who was born in Peloponnese, but educated in Athens in the workshop of the great Myron; his work was mainly in bronze.
And then Miltiades, the fifth century;
Alexander the Great, fourth century;
Sophocles, fourth century;
Euripides, fourth century;
Epicurus, fourth century
and Demosthenes, portrayed by Polyeuktos, another great bronze sculptor active in Athens in the early third century.
The replicas of Greek originals are one of the most interesting aspects of the internalization of Greek art which took place in the Roman world.
Beyond the reinterpretation of the originals, the replicas have the great value of being often the only evidence that we have received of the works of great artists such as Phidias (490-430 BC), Lysippos (390-306), Myron (fifth century) , Polyclitus (fifth century), Praxiteles (fourth century), Kalamis (fifth century), since much of the original is lost. In fact, by Lysippos and Policleto no original has survived by Praxiteles only one, of Myron nothing.
Here we show: Aphrodite by Phidias, fifth century BC;
Ares of the school of Phidias;
Apollo, School of Phidias; the famous Bitch by Lysippos;
of the fifth century is the Ephebus by Polycletus, named "Westmacott" after the British sculptor who made a copy in 1800.
Again, Marsyas by Myron of the fifth century;
Hermes by Kalamis of the fifth century;
Hermes Richelieu attributed to Praxiteles, fourth century;
Eros Chigi of the fourth century;
Apollo Linceo of Praxiteles; a centaur, wonderful expression of Hellenistic art of the second style (240-150 BC) and characterized by the dramatization of the expressions much delighted by the Romans.
And finally another Hellenistic work, the girl of Pergamum of the second century BC.
The Roman section presents works of the highest quality, representing the different kinds of Roman art, among other works we suggest:
Silenus of the second century BC;
Neptune, first century BC; the portrait of a young man of the first century AD; the unforgettable portrait of a baby traditionally known as Nero, of the first century AD; the Woman dating Flavia age, with the characteristic hairstyle of the time, end of the first century AD;
Jupiter Ammon, expression of Roman syncretism that joins the Egyptian god Ammon (the hidden god), with Jupiter, first century AD; the spectacular portrait of a lady of the second century AD;
Mars, second century AD;
Paris, second century AD.
While comes from Palmyra the portrait of a lady of the third century AD.
As for the genre of painting the Romans loved frescoes and mosaics, while the vase painting was not so popular.
This is not a secondary issue, in fact the vase painting, in the ancient world, was largely targeted at funeral, according to the religion expressed in the cult of the dead.
But the approach of the Romans was little inclined to transcendence, then the art among the Romans was intended for the eyes of the living, hence the widespread use of mosaics and frescoes.
Then we see a typical mosaic of the first century BC and just a typical fresco
with hermaphrodite of the second century AD.
The Roman section ends with the Ecclesia Romana, famous medieval work coming from the ancient Basilica of St. Peter, before the reconstruction begun by Bramante in the full Renaissance.