Showing posts with label Capitoline Museum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Capitoline Museum. Show all posts

May 7, 2013

Tuesday, May 07, 2013 - , 1 comment

Lion Attacking A Horse Ends Exhibit at Getty Villa; First Time 4th Century BC Greek Statue has been on display since 1925

Lion Attacking a Horse in the atrium at the Getty Villa
(Photo by Catherine Sezgin) 
Today the 4th century BC Greek statue, Lion Attacking a Horse, ended its nine-month exhibition in the atrium of the Getty Villa.

This is the first time the sculpture has been on public display since 1925 and the first time it has left Rome in 2,000 years.
Depicting the figure of a fallen horse succumbing to the claws and fangs of a ferocious lion, the monumental group dates to the early Hellenistic period (the late 4th century B.C.), when Greek sculptors began to produce naturalistic portrayals of intense emotion and physical exertion. 
Close-up of Lion (Photo by C. Sezgin)
Although the original location of the sculpture is unknown, its massive scale and dramatic carving suggest that it embellished a monument in northern Greece or Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). Created in the era of Alexander the Great’s conquest of Asia, the sculpture may have formed part of a larger composition with a melee of wild beasts and mounted hunters, which commemorated the young king’s famous lion-hunting exploits at Sidon (present-day Lebanon) in 332 B.C. and a royal game preserve in Basista (present-day Uzbekistan) in 328–327 B.C.
The sculpture was eventually brought to Rome, most likely as war booty seized by a victorious general for display in the imperial capital. It was ultimately discovered in the streambed near the Circus Maximus, a stadium used for chariot races, gladiatorial games, and animal combats. The work was first mentioned in an archival document in 1300.
Backside of 4th century BC Greek marble (Photo by Sezgin)
By 1347, the sculpture was prominently displayed on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, the seat of the city’s civic administration. During this time, Renaissance Rome was experiencing a great rebirth of interest in its glorious ancient past, which served as a model for the present. Remains of antiquity, such as Lion Attacking a Horse, were among the earliest expressions of the Renaissance spirit.
The work was initially installed on the staircase of the Palazzo Senatorio in the Piazza del Campidoglio on the Capitoline Hill. Presiding over an area used for pronouncing judicial sentences since antiquity, this powerful image of domination and retribution served as a symbol of Rome for over a century. In 1471 Pope Sixtus IV transferred a group of ancient bronze sculptures, including the famous statue of a she-wolf suckling the twins Romulus and Remus, from the Lateran Palace to the Piazza del Campidoglio, as reminders of “ancient excellence and virtue.” Mounted on the facade of the Palazzo dei Conservatori, the she-wolf replaced the lion-and-horse image as the emblem of Rome. Lion Attacking a Horse was moved to various places on the Capitoline until it was eventually installed in the center of a fountain in the Caffarelli Garden in 1925.
This statue was loaned to the Getty by the Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Roma Capitale - Musei Capitolini with funding provided by the Knights of Colombus and the J. Paul Getty Museum's Villa Council.

October 18, 2011

The Collecting History of Stolen Art: the Capitoline Museums’ krater of Mithradates VI Eupator the Great, king of Pontus

Bronze krater of Mithradates the Great
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-chief

A large bronze vase, crafted under Mithradates the Great of Pontus, was stolen from Asia Minor during one of the Mithradatic Wars by either Sulla or Pompey; displayed in the seaside villa of a Roman Emperor; and owned by a pope before it entered the collection of the Capitoline Museum in Rome. This summer it visited Amelia.

According to the Archaeological Museum in Amelia, the krater may have been a gift to a school, a gymnasium, on the Greek Island of Delos for the inhabitants' support of Mithradates, the Greco-Persian ruler from the Black Sea kingdom who expanded his territory into Anatolia and Asia Minor to protest the occupation of the Romans and their taxation policies. The krater was likely shaped to mix wine with water and honey, and linked to Dionysus -- it is likely that the original vessel loops were decorated with branches and brunches of grapes (Museo di arcaeologico, Amelia).

In 87 BC, Mithradates’ generals fought for Roman-controlled Delos. “The destruction was devastating: the city was sacked and burned to the ground,” Adrienne Mayor writes in The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy (Princeton Press, 2009). “Thousands of able-bodied slaves, suddenly freed from Roman chains, joined the Greek liberation army. Mithradates’ generals killed virtually all the unarmed Italian merchants of Delos and sold their wives and children into slavery.”

On Delos, Mithradates’ generals looted the treasures from the great Temple of Apollo, then after storing most of the plunder on the island of Skiathos, moved the treasure to Aristion in Athens. The treasure was then used to finance Athens’ fight against Rome.

Mayor shows an image of this first century BC krater in The Poison King.  “During the First Mithradatic War,” Mayor writes, “this krater was apparently plundered by Sulla and taken to Rome.” [Mayor sites her information from a book by Deniz Burcu Erciyas, Wealth, Aristocracy and Royal Propaganda under the Hellenistic Kingdom of the Mithradatids in the Central Black Sea Region of Turkey. Colloquia Pontica 12. Leiden: Brill).

Whilst Mayor figures Sulla took the krater from Athens, information posted from the Archaeological Museum in Amelia this summer claims it was Pompey the Great who brought the krater from Greece to Rome with the spoils of war after the defeat of Mithradates. Regardless, both of these men looted from Mithradates.

Lucius Cornelius Sulla was dispatched by Rome to avenge the 88 BC massacre of Romans and Italians instigated by Mithradates the Great. Unfortunately, as soon as he left Rome, the 50-year-old Sulla (the name meant “Pimples” and referred to his complexion) suffered an upset by a political rival who declared Sulla “Public Enemy of Rome” and cut off his supplies and funds for 30,000 men. Before he could reach the Province of Asia, Sulla landed in Greece and began demands for money and fought for supplies. He eventually, as Mayor writes in The Poison King, “seized the sacred treasures of Greece, plundering the temples of Zeus at Olympia and Asclepius in Epidaurus. Selecting the most beautiful, precious art for himself, he melted down massive amounts of silver to pay his men and buy supplies.” Sulla destroyed Athens and then went on to the Province of Asia to win the First Mithradatic War.

Pompey the Great won the third and last of the Mithradatic Wars. In late 65 BC, the victorious Pompey, searching for Mithradates who had crossed to safety over the Caucasus Mountains, seized fortresses and treasures in Pontus. “The vaults at Talaura yielded cups of onyx and gold, splendid furniture, bejeweled armor and gilded horse bridles, Persian antiques, and the treasure from Cos – including the precious cloak of Alexander the Great,” Mayor writes.

The krater eventually reached the Italian peninsula:

"Two hundred years later, the krater belonged to the emperor Nero, who kept it at his luxurious seaside villa at Antium," Mayor writes.  "Unearthed from the villa’s ruins by Pope Benedict XIV in the eighteenth century, the bronze krater is now a centerpiece in Rome’s Capitoline Museum."

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was the grandson of Germanicus whose bronze image ended up in Amelia’s archaeological museum.

August 8, 2011

Monday, August 08, 2011 - ,, No comments

Amelia's Bronze Germanicus Travels to Rome for Portrait Exhibit at Capitoline Museum; Curators Reveal New Information about the First Century Bronze Statue

Capitoline Museums, Rome, Italy
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin,
ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

In mid-July, I traveled to Amelia for an art crime conference and to visit the archaeological museum to see the bronze statue of Germanicus. However, Germanicus, found outside the gates of Amelia in 1963, was not in town. Germanicus had been disassembled and boxed, then shipped to Rome for a six-month exhibit at the Musei Capitolini at the Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michalangelo (1475-1564) and commissioned by Alessandro Farnese (Pope Paul III from 1534 to 1549) to impress Charles V (1500-1558), the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.

Palazzo Farnese
In Rome, I mistakenly walked to Campo di Fiori looking for the Musei Capitolini as directed by Google Maps. If it hadn't been so hot and humid, I would have recalled that I was looking for some very large steps to climb up to the museum and that it was behind not Piazza Navona but the Victor Emmanuelle II's monument. Instead I found Palazzo Farnese, now the French Embassy, around Campo di Fiori before following directions from an Italian couple to walk further and further down the road.

By the time I'd walked up the cordonata, Michelangelo's staircase wide enough for riders and their horses in the day, and turned right into the first building, the Palazzo Nuovo, a security guard stopped me. The ticket box was closed and although the museum would be open another 50 minutes, I could not go in without a ticket. I begged, he pointed to the surveillance camera above us, and I stepped back out onto the Piazza. After asking two people -- one woman had lost her husband who had their tickets and she couldn't go into the building to find him -- I obtained a used ticket and returned to the building's entrance. The security guard said that I couldn't go in because I had not purchased the ticket. But I begged, saying he'd only told me that I had to have a ticket. He finally sought advice from another staff member, a woman who seemed to have more authority with her walkie-talkie, and I was let into the building.

"Germanicus, Germanicus, Germanicus," I called softly walking through hallways and passed many portraits and monuments. It had been a long day, it was 44 degrees Celcius outside, and obviously the heat had gotten to me. "Germanicus, I can't find you!"

Germanicus amongst other Roman portraits, Capitoline Museums
In the very last room, at the far end of the floor, Germanicus stood in the rear. The rope usually around him at the archaeological museum in Amelia was gone and visitors could walk directly up to his base. He was marvelously old and delicate as up close it was obvious that he was depending upon a steel and wood structure to remain upright.

Then there was a display sign that read:
“The bronze statue found at Amelia, in Umbria, was not made as a portrait of Germanicus. The original head was eventually replaced with that of the young Germancius, whom his uncle Tiberius had designated as his heir, but who died in 19 AD. What probably happened is that the person (Perhaps Germanicus’s son Caligula) who had originally been honored with this statue was later condemned to damnatio memoriae [by the Senate], the removal of his public images to erase all memory of him, and that the costly statue was then reused to honor another member of the dynasty. 
“The ornamentation is very complex. On the upper part of the breastplate is the menacing image of the monstrous Scylla. On the lower part is a scene from Homer: Achilles ambushing the young Trojan prince Troilus. The scene is completed by the two Victories who converge from the sides toward the Greek hero, bringing him arms as a reward for his feat. The decoration extends to the back of the armor, where we see a religious scene in which two women dance in front of a candelabrum, symbol of the eternity of the imperial power. The pteryges, metal plates protecting the groin, are formed in the first row by lions’ heads and adorned in the second by heads of satyrs alternating with heads of gorgons. As a whole, the decorative plan was meant to epitomize control of the seas (Scylla) and to compare the honored man to Achilles, the most valiant of all the Achaean heroes.”
The bronze statue of Germanicus was dated 25-50 AD. It made sense that it had not been commissioned at the time of his death in 19 AD as his uncle, the second Roman emperor Tiberius, did not even attend the placement of his ashes into the Mausoleum of Augustus. So this statue could have been made for his son Caligula and when the Senate voted to erase the assassinated emperor's image from history, it was the head of Germanicus that replaced the original.

Surprised that only the head had been made for Germanicus, I retreated back to Piazza Navona, stopping to purchase a few DVDs of my favorite Italian television series about Salvo Montalbano in Sicily; ate a dinner of friend zucchini blossoms and artichokes at the always-welcoming family restaurant of Ristorante Archimede San Eustachio (Piazza dei Caprettari, 63); and fought my way to the counter at the cafe of Sant 'Eustachio for not one, but two cappucini.

Germanicus will be on display in Rome through September 25 at the Capitoline Museum.