I started off the day by walking to the Museo Capitolini on the Capitoline Hill. This museum is one of the foremost museums of Ancient Roman sculptures. It holds the famous Capitoline Wolf that is one of the symbols of Rome. The Capitoline Wolf is a bronze statue of a lupa, or she-wolf, shown with the twins Romulus and Remus.
The first century CE equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius is also housed in the Museo Capitolini. A replica has taken its place outside in the Campidoglio. There is a remarkable collection of portraits of Romans, and one can really see the differences and evolution of techniques in the periods and styles of Roman portraiture. One of my favorites is the statue of Emperor Commodus as Hercules, a wonderful example that shows the mastery achieved by Roman artisans in the Antonine Period. I really enjoyed seeing this museum because there were many portraits of Marcus Aurelius that I had used in my research project for an Art History seminar course I took this past spring.
On the third floor of the museum there is a wonderful collection of Renaissance paintings. Caravaggio’s painting “Fortune Teller” is among the collection. I found this painting particularly interesting because I saw it last fall when it was in Fort Worth as a part of the Kimbell Art Museum’s Caravaggio exhibit.
From the Capitoline Museum, I took a taxi to the Museo della Centrale Montemartini. This museum was a thermoelectric power plant for the city of Rome that was converted to an exhibition space and museum to permanently house some Roman sculptures from the Capitoline Museum to help to keep the works open to the public. There is a wonderful juxtaposition between the modern machinery and the ancient Roman sculptures.
Later in the evening I went on a tour of the Vatican Museum. We went through a cool outdoor area called the Corte della Pigna, translated as Court of the Pinecone. In the center of this courtyard there is Pomodoro’s sculpture “Sphere Within a Sphere”. I was disappointed to find the hall with the ancient Roman statues and busts was closed off, but I still enjoyed going through the galleries.
In a niche of a small outdoor courtyard there is the wonderful sculpture of “Laocoon and His Sons,” definitely a favorite of mine for the sense of movement and the emotion of the work. It’s a depiction of a scene from Vergil’s Aeneid, which I had translated and learned about in my Latin course this past spring. Laocoon tried to warn the Trojans not to accept the gift of the wooden horse from the Greeks, and the Gods sent serpents to kill him. The sculpture shows the scene from book II when the serpents seize Laocoon and blind him with their massive coins.
Today was an amazing day! I really loved going through some amazing museums and getting to see some amazing works of art!