Church of Saint Paul's within the  Walls

Church of Saint Paul's within the Walls

Nativity mosaic by George  Breck, 1913  above the west front doors facing  Via Nazionale. Saint Paul's is an Episcopalian church and was the first Protestant  church allowed (1873- 1879) within the ancient walls of Rome. There is an excelent and extensive liturgical music program and a concert series featuring classical and Operatic music. 

Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

The Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem's Baroque facade designed and built by Gregorini and Passalacqua (1740-1758). This is the famous church built to hold the relics from the passion of Christ, including  the true cross brought back to Rome from the Holy Land by  Emperor Constantine's Mother, Helena, in the 4th C, BCE.

Chapel of St. Helena, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

Chapel of St. Helena, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

Ceiling mosaic with Christ and the four apostles, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. 

The Botanical Garden of Rome

The Botanical Garden of Rome

The 30 acre garden was part of the Palazzo Riario-Corsini grounds and is located in the Trastevere neighborhood. Although it is always a relief and joy to be out  of doors, the Botanical Garden is a bit shabby as compared to other great gardens. It does have extensive palm and succulent collections of which these giants form an intriguing tangle.  

The Botanical Garden of Rome

The Botanical Garden of Rome

The great variety of palms are the pride of the garden. 

Castel Sant' Angelo

Castel Sant' Angelo

We are looking up at the castle beyond the battlements surrounding the ancient Mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian to the bronze statue of Archangel Michael way at the top.  

Castel Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo

The ever dapper Mr. Leo standing beneath Saint Michael on his Tosca tour. 

Castel Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo

Inside the Papal apartments of the Castle, in the Pauline Hall  (Pope Paul III 1534) we see  this fresco of Archangel Michael, defender of the faith.

Roman Sunset

Roman Sunset

Spectacular sunset over the Tiber looking towards Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II  with the dome of Saint Peter's in the distance

Ponte S. Angelo

Ponte S. Angelo

The Autumn dusk paints fast moving clouds  in rich colors, highlighting one of Bernini's angels decorating the pedestrian bridge over the Tiber centered on Castel Sant'Angelo

Graffiti  Scrawl

Graffiti Scrawl

Rome, unfortunately, is defiled by graffiti  everywhere. This wall provides an extensive canvas for messages of rage and egotism parading as "Art." 

Sea Creatures

Sea Creatures

On the walls of the Porta S. Paolo Train Station are etched these charming Deco (1924) murals by Giulio Rosso. They depict marine creatures cavorting about the surf and sea. The train line goes to the beach resort of the Roman Lido at Ostia and hence the  the theme of Neptune and his court. 

Art Deco Murals

Art Deco Murals

Here is another etched mural by Giulio Rosso. This one includes two elegant fellows fishing. 

Centaurs Facing off

Centaurs Facing off

Two sturdy centaurs with flowing long hair decorating the upper stair hall ceiling of Casino Nobile at Villa  Torlonia, (1797) made infamous by Mussolini's brief  tenure, (1925 - 1943)  at the country estate of the Torlonia family.

A Host of Celebratory Charmers

A Host of Celebratory Charmers

Stucco high relief entablature incorporating cherubic and angelic figures along with a delight of graceful rinceau and garlands, not to mention some blow out Corinthian capitals, etc. wow! Casino Nobile, Villa Torlonia, Ball Room. 

Formation of flying crystals

Formation of flying crystals

More of the ball room at Casino Nobile at Villa Torlonia. 

Cassina delle Civette

Cassina delle Civette

"The little house of the Owls" was the magnet that drew me to the Villa Torlonia  in the Nomentano neighborhood of Rome. The eclectic picturesque architecture of this garden folly has been redesigned and embellished several times since its original construction in 1840. Because of its extensive stained glass window decoration it has, after a heroic restoration 1992-1997, been transformed into a house museum of stained glass  concentrating on the arts and craft movement of he early twentieth century.  Also the motif of Owls is a great favorite of mine. 

Casina delle Civette

Casina delle Civette

The "higgledy-piggledy" architectural digressions of "Civette" are reminiscent of Antonio Gaudi and also put me in mind of Henry Sleeper's "Beauport" home in Gloucester, Massachusetts. 

Casina delle Civette

Casina delle Civette

My Leo enjoying a comfortable corner by the owl window by Duilio Cambellotti, 1918

Cassina  delle Civette

Cassina delle Civette

How swiftly the swallows dart about the cloud swept sky amongst the flowering branches of the garden!

Casina delle Civette

Casina delle Civette

The majestic swan spreads a glory of white plumage claiming rank above the dashing kingfisher 

A pride of strutting peacocks

A pride of strutting peacocks

Two lines of regal peacocks parade towards a bejeweled vase erupting with  sprays of flower stems bent by heavy blossoms  bursting with glorious color. Window designed by Umberto Bottazzi and made by Picchiarini of Rome, 1912

View of from Juliet's  balcony

View of from Juliet's balcony

The window's  wavy glass is strewn with a spray of roses held by a pink ribbon. Supporting the wooden gable over Juliet's balcony is a graceful marble pillar capped with gliding snails climbing to ideal heights. Beyond this vantage point the "English Garden" of Villa Torlonia meanders over hill and dale enjoying the warm caress of Roman sunshine. 

A symphony of stone and masonry textures

A symphony of stone and masonry textures

Woven into a corner of Casina Delle Civette is a complex rhythm of pillar, lintel , roof and brick wall all put to flight by a trio of mystic owls with wings spreed and chests swollen.  They hold aloft a cantilever beam of travertine graced by scrolling waves decorated with strings of pearls. 

Fountain spring

Fountain spring

Quietly decorating the wild flower field surrounding Casina delle Civette we find a graceful disk, held by moss covered stones, supporting a spurt of water. This feeds a small clear pool which is overgrown with paper narcissus. A delicate tangle of  exuberant spring  greens is half hidden by the showy foliage of a healthy clump of silver-gray dusty miller.  

Torlonia Obelisk Amidst Towering Palms

Torlonia Obelisk Amidst Towering Palms

This handsome pink granite Obelisk  stands ten meters high in a grove of royal palms between the main gate and Casino dei Principi (house of the Princes) of Villa Torlonia. It is carved with authentic Egyptian hieroglyphics commemorating Prince Giovanni Torlonia (1754-1829) . 

Nomentano Neighborhood

Nomentano Neighborhood

Here is another handsome apartment building at the intersection of Viale Regina Margherita and Via Nomentano in the Nomentano neighborhood. Many of these type of buildings all over Rome have dates of the 1880's inscribed on them. This is reflective of the unification of Italy in 1871 and the designation of Rome as the capital of the newly united country of The Kingdom of Italy.  

Palazzo Colonna

Palazzo Colonna

This is a view of the main gallery or great hall of the Palazzo Colonna. The Colonna family trace their aristocratic roots in Rome back to 1252. Before that they were from Castel Colonna in the Alban hills.  The Colonnas  are  therefore  one of the oldest aristocratic families in Rome. The gallery was begun in 1661  and  progressed with interior embellishments for the rest of the seventeenth century, finally being inaugurated in 1701.  

The ceiling frescoes celebrate Prince Marcantonino Colonna II"s victory over the Ottomans at Lepanto in 1571. 

Gallery of Palazzo Colonna

Gallery of Palazzo Colonna

Another view of the sparkling grandeur of Palazzo Colonna

Ceiling Frescoes of The Grand Gallery

Ceiling Frescoes of The Grand Gallery

Several of the defeated and captured Ottoman Turks are here being  corralled by a barrage of weaponry on the left as an imperial eagle glares at the unfortunates from the far right. All of this drama is being blithely ignored by a pair of  naiads draping an urn with celebratory  laurel wreaths.

Apotheosis of Marcantonio

Apotheosis of Marcantonio

Here is the man himself, Marcantonio encased in polished steel armor with his sword raised in attack at  the height of pitched battle. The Turks are already  drowning  in a  chaos of agony, black smoke billowing from their doomed ships.  Above it all a couple of chubby putti are zooming in bearing gifts of laurel and palm fronds anticipating total success for Marc and his minions. 

Bejeweled Door

Bejeweled Door

 One of many small Pietra Dura encrusted doors of an immense ebony cabinet in the  Hall of Landscapes at Palazzo Colonna. The pillars are amethyst (about 8 inches tall )  with gilt bronze capitals and bases. The blue background is lapis lazuli  and the vase with flowers is composed of precious marbles with gem stones  decorating the frieze above the pediment. 

Sedan Chair, Princess' Apartment, Palazzo Colonna

Sedan Chair, Princess' Apartment, Palazzo Colonna

One of my favorite means of conveyance is the sedan chair. I would love nothing more than to be hauled about town in one these extravagant wheelless vehicles. If anyone were to revive the sedan chair in Venice, where they once enjoyed a great vogue, that clever entrepreneur would own the town because one inevitably walks too far in Venice, "just around another corner... just over that second bridge..." and before you know it the wee peds are throbbing. What a perfect moment to dial up Uber Sedan and have liveried footmen  whisk you back to the comfort of your hotel! 

Evening fan on side table at Palazzo Collona

Evening fan on side table at Palazzo Collona

Ain't this little honey sweet? Quite apart from everything else going on here, the central gilded figures are two lovers,  a youth is crowing his darling with a garland, presumably plaited laurel leaves. The  mother of pearl blades of the fan cast a particularly beautiful blue-purple iridescence. 

Candles, Crystals and Frescoes

Candles, Crystals and Frescoes

On a side table of the Yellow Hall at Palazzo Colonna sits this sparkling candelabra.  I was amazed that every crystal is winkingly clean. On the frescoed wall behind the candelabra elegantly draped figures lounge in a garden encircled by a classical loggia. 

Room of the Embroideries, Palazzo Colonna

Room of the Embroideries, Palazzo Colonna

This is but a small border detail of a whole room hung with embroidered tapestries. The central vase, at the bottom, holds a display of fruit and  beneath is a mask of a grimacing creature who holds the stems of writhing leaf garlands in his mouth. The three dimensional effect of the gremlin's silken face adds animation to the extent that  one half expects him to crack a ribald joke. 

Triumph of Heroes

Triumph of Heroes

Outside the palazo, across a bridge leading to the garden, stands this martial tribute (1713) to three Colonnas ; Marco Antonio, flanked by  Fabricio on the left and Prospero on the right.  

Colonna Garden

Colonna Garden

The Colonna garden climbs the hill towards the Quirinale with steps accented by ancient statues guarding a water cascade. Tall clipped hedges form living rooms populated by  pruned  orange trees, all shaded by a variety of tall venerable trees. 

Camillo Cavour Monument

Camillo Cavour Monument

These hefty dames are over life-sized bronze statues at the base of the Monument commemorating Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, first Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy. They personify, standing on the left, Italy and seated on the right, Rome. the entire sculptural grouping was created by Stefano Galetti in 1895. This grand monument holds pride of place in Piazza Cavour adjacent to The Palace of Justice. 

Camillo Cavour Monument

Camillo Cavour Monument

This handsome warrior sits at the base of the Cavour Monument in the lovely Piazza Cavour. He personifies Action and behind him is a trophy consisting of various weapons from the House of Savoy. 

Monumental Monuments

Monumental Monuments

Another view of "Action" the allegorical figure of a warrior at the base of the monument to Camillo Cavour.  He is looking up at the colossal Palace of Justice, a muscular expression of the power of Law as expressed in an architectural mountain of glorious excess!

Fountains and Bikes

Fountains and Bikes

A bunch of kids were whizzing about on their bikes enjoying the wide open spaces of Piazza Cavour protected from the mundane world by the  colossal Palace of Justice. The white marble fountain is one of a pair that flank the main stairs of the Court house. 

Waldensian Church Piazza Cavour

Waldensian Church Piazza Cavour

This handsome arched doorway with its mosaic lunette caught my eye and it turns out to be the entrance to the Waldensian Church which is an early proponent of reform in the Christian Church calling for a return to Apostolic poverty. They are generally credited with anticipating the Reformation way before Luther and as such were brutally  persecuted by the the Catholic Church. "Chiesa Valdese" translates to "Waldensian Church" and "Lux Lucet in Tenebris" to "Light Glows in the Darkness." God bless them all! 

Hellenistic Ruler

Hellenistic Ruler

This is a close up of the head of a statue at the National Roman Museum - Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. It is thought to be a hellenistic prince, possibly Attalus II, King of Pergamon, or a prominent Roman. It dates from the 2nd or 3rd century B C. The pose derives from a statue of Alexander the Great by Lysippus. To me he has an almost audible presence. 

 The Bludgeoned and Bruised Greek Boxer

The Bludgeoned and Bruised Greek Boxer

The pained and absent expression of this 1st cent B C bronze statue by Apollonios son of Neston is a sad reminder of the brutality of boxing as practiced in ancient Greece where the target of the contest was the opponent's  face. This work of art is one of the prize possesions of the National Roman Museum - Palazzo Massimo alle Terme - which is an astounding museum. 

The Poetess Sapho 612 - 580

The Poetess Sapho 612 - 580

The quiet dignity and power of Sapho is enhanced by the polished dark stone. National Roman Museum - Palazzo Massimo alle Terme

Life beyond Time

Life beyond Time

Portrait bust of an ancient Roman at the National Roman Museum - Palazzo Massimo alle Terme

Antinous

Antinous

This is an image of Antinous the young Bithynian beloved of Emperor Hadrian. Antinous was so overwhelmed by his powerful  lover's devotion that he tragically committed  suicide by walking into the Nile River and drowning. Hadrian's inconsolable grief moved him to declare Antinous a God and erected portrait statues and images of the youth all over the Roman empire. 

Ideal Athletes

Ideal Athletes

The sculpture galleries at the  National Roman Museum - Palazzo Massimo alle Terme - are blissfully quiet and I could enjoy the art untroubled by the invading hordes of tourists you encounter at the Vatican and Borghese Gallery. These  collections are every bit as important and handsomely displayed without the intrusive modernism of places like the Montemartini Power Station. 

Two Expressions of One God

Two Expressions of One God

Dionysus in two forms; youth in bronze and maturity in marble at the incomparable  National Roman Museum - Palazzo Massimo alle Terme 

Birds Perch and Swoop

Birds Perch and Swoop

The most miraculous technique of museum craft allows for these delicate wall frescoes  from the "Villa of Livia"  to be preserved and transferred to the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. Soft light illuminates the foliage where small birds perch as others swoop in the blue sky of antiquity. 

Leonardo's Vetruvian Man

Leonardo's Vetruvian Man

In the basement of Palazzo Massimo alle Terme there is a  numismatic museum  illustrating the history of coins. This handsome specimen, a 1 Euro Coin from 2002 has an incredibly  detailed low relief sculpture of Leonardo's 1490 drawing of Vitruvian Man. 

"The drawing is based on the correlations of ideal human proportions with geometry described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius in Book III of his treatise De Architectura. Vitruvius described the human figure as being the principal source of proportion among the Classical orders of architecture. Vitruvius determined that the ideal body should be eight heads high. Leonardo's drawing is traditionally named in honor of the architect." - Wikipedia - 

Trompe l'oeil at its best

Trompe l'oeil at its best

Here we have Fra Fercoldo, (1265) as painted by Filippo Balbi (1855) filling a false door in the cloister of the Carthusians in Rome. Fra Fercoldo was the father of Pope Clemente IV. He  assumed Holy Orders  after the death of his wife. In the painting, the old monk is pointing to a picture of Clemente IV. On inside door of his "cell" is an interesting collection of objects undoubtedly reminding us of the temporal quality of life on earth  

"In 1561, Pope Pius IV granted the remains of the Bath-houses of Diocletian to the Carthusian monks, appointing them as conservators of the ruins.

The work aimed at the transformation of the complex into a Charterhouse (Carthusian monastery) began soon after, and it was Michelangelo who outlined the general structure of the monastic ensemble (although the design of the Charterhouse and the details are generally ascribed to Jacopo del Duca). 

With its 10,000 square metres (of central garden space) and its wings of 100 metres, each rhythmically punctuated by 100 monolithic columns, the Cloister of Michelangelo is one of the largest in Italy. Along the wings, originally conceived as covered walkways of the Charterhouse, are displayed sculptures, sarcophagi, altars as well as bases of statues of the Imperial Age." 

Peace and Quiet in the Midst of Rome

Peace and Quiet in the Midst of Rome

Looking accross the large central garden of the Carthusian Cloister at the Baths of Diocletian

Mask of Comedy

Mask of Comedy

Mr. Leo assuming the universal shrug, intoning that immortal line of Alfred E. Newman, "What - Me worry?"  at the Carthusian Cloister, Baths of Diocletian, Rome. 

Ancient Relics

Ancient Relics

Along the long legs of the Carthusian Cloister are extensive collections of Roman Imperial relics. Here we see two sarcophagi and a sturdy pillar. 

Small Details Are Important

Small Details Are Important

Gracing the pediment of an ancient tombstone in the garden of the Carthusian Cloister this little griffin gazes at his companion of centuries a glorious blossoming flower.  As if nature has read his thoughts a humble weed takes root in the cracking stone beside him,  putting forth delicate green leaves of life renewed.  The only constant and eternal element of the universe is change - a place of opportunity.  (This is my twist on the usually morbid  "Memento Mori"  proclamation)

Garden Folly

Garden Folly

Now, this formidable Rhinoceros has a certain dignity to his horrific appearance, head up, eyes to heaven - Michelangelo's rhythmic Cloister behind him marches on as winter clouds solemnize the mood of  this regal beast. 

 

Villa Maraini

Villa Maraini

High above the Via Veneto towers this fairy tale palace built in 1905 by the Swiss-Italian architect, Otto Maraini for his wealthy industrialist  brother Emilio Maraini. In a city with ever more fantastic structures on steep hills that support densely built neighborhoods  half concealed in a labyrinth of glorious buildings , this place takes the cake. It is a confection of Belle Epoque elaboration that is hard to believe.  Villa Maraini is now the Swiss Institute in Rome for Cultural Affairs. As you can see, it is corralled behind splendid ramparts and extravagant  wrought Iron gates that complement the magnificent and eclectic palace, all surrounded by mature gardens where enormous trees seem to be growing in a exulted Olympus.  

Lord Byron

Lord Byron

Our Roman friend, Eugene Rizzo, alerted me to this statue of Lord Byron sculpted by Thorvaldsen in Villa Borgese, so I went round to pay proper homage to the poet. Although, Byron's bluster, posturing and  reckless love affairs with women and men throughout his life seems to me to be overcompensation for a host of short comings, here we see him in the best of lights. At his feet we see several  iconographic references; broken pillar and skull, speaking to both classical and romantic sensibilities and the  Athenian Owl from the Tetradrachma coin referencing Byron's Grecian escapades in the war of independence from the Ottoman Turks. All these  speak eloquently of his life's drama as does the toga like drapery of his cloak.  His pensive gaze with pen upraised and note book at the ready seem to absorb the turbulent moodiness of the November skies which appropriately let loose a passing storm of chilly rain sending me rushing for cover. 

IMG_3151.JPG
Medusa

Medusa

Also in the park known as the Villa Borgese I found this ominous Medusa lurking within the elaborate structure of  another monument. I include it here because, although of a more modern creation, the glowering threat expressed is  the absolute essence of Byronic Romanticism conjuring the intense emotions of  apprehension, horror,  terror and awe.  

Leda and the Swan

Leda and the Swan

This sensuous painting attributed to IL Sodoma, more properly known as Giovanni Antonio Bazzi , 1477 - 1549 is a copy or variation of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci.  One of the aspects that attracted me to this painting is the way the swan's  wing embraces Leda's hip. The swan in question is, of course, Zeus transformed into a swan in order to seduce Leda. The thin curve of the wing is painted in brilliant vibrant white that pops off the canvas and  so tightly following the line of  Leda's body as to imply a perfect fit between them and by the calm expression of Leda  that supposition is enforced. 

The two little fellows at the bottom right are two of Leda's  offspring resulting from this union. The other two are presumably still to be born, hatched from the remaining egg nestled in the flowers. One boy is  Castor, sired by Tyndareus, king of Sparta,   mortal husband of Leda. The other is Pollux immortal son of Zues. These twins eventually end up as the Gemini twins of the constellation  by the same name. 

Galleria Borghese

Galleria Borghese

As you can see this little fellow is part of an elaborate ceiling decoration incorporating illusionary coffering  executed with  fresco technique on the side vaults and an oil painting on canvas  in the center top. The museum label for this work reads, " Vesper's Gloamings" which although charming turns out to be a dandy redundancy as, Gordon - my Dad was wont to say. In any case our  young man brings the morning star into focus and with it all the promise of a new day dawning. 

Galleria Borghese

Galleria Borghese

I have already titled this one, "carried away by Bernini" and although accurate, to a certain degree, there is more to the matter. The action here is powered by  Pluto in the act of abducting Persephone. He is  rather gleefully dragging off the poor darling to Hades. I guess he figured if he had to lurk in the shadows she could too. Is this an allegory of marriage in general? Whatever the short comings of "down under" there must have been a well equipped gym 'cause the guy is a totally ripped  hunk. 

Back to Bernini, at 23 (1621) Gian Lorenzo obviously had his finger on the pulse beat of passion  which he communicates  with audible gasps and supernatural realism.  

Contemplating the Struggle

Contemplating the Struggle

I spied this fashionable young woman eyeing Bernini's Persephone and Pluto conflict with serious intent. She was easily the best dressed person of her age in all of Rome and her demure but alluring costume enhanced by scarlet lip gloss  set my heart on fire.  I was immediately smitten and desperately  wanted to ask her if I might "take" her picture. However, that  would smack of Pluto's  presumption and I settled for a few quick snaps capturing only a hint of  her arresting blush of youth.  Would that I had had a pomegranate  on hand. 

Clang the Cymbals

Clang the Cymbals

The collections of the gloriously renovated Galleria Borghese deserve the clanging of cymbals and a lot more celebratory clamor!  This white marble statue of a dancing satyr is said to be a Roman copy of a Greek original. Above him a clutch of fauns and satyrs,  draped  with  grape vines, jeer down at their more staid companion. Above them the perpetually drunken Silenus is being loaded onto his ass by  guffawing attendants. 

Victor Emanuel Monument

Victor Emanuel Monument

The drama of chiaroscuro ignites a writhing mass of  neo-baroque sculpture  embellishing the Victor Emanuel Monument. 

All Rome Trembles

All Rome Trembles

On a blustery afternoon in February we see all Rome from the parapet of the Victor Emanuel Monument where winged Victory draws all of Italy together celebrating  freedom from foreign and Papal oppression.  

Monastic Phantoms  Whisper

Monastic Phantoms Whisper

Twisted marble colums in a cloister contrast with the palimsest shadow on the masonry wall opposite.  

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

The fountain of Neptune in the Piazza Navona. The large basin is made of pink marble. The central figure of Neptune killing a giant octopus was sculpted by Anotonio della Bitta in 1878. The surrounding sea creatures: two sea horses with men riding on them, two cherubs, two dolphins and two sea nymphs,  were all sculpted by Gregorio Zappala  1878. 

Pizza Navona

Pizza Navona

In 1651 after much intrigue and scheming Pope Innocent X commissioned  Gian Lorenzo Bernini,  to design and sculpt the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers topped by the Obelisk of Domitian, brought in pieces from the Circus of Maximus

The base of the fountain is a basin from the center of which travertine rocks rise to support four river gods and above them, an ancient Egyptian obelisk surmounted with the Pamphili family emblem of a dove with an olive twig. Collectively, they represent four major rivers of the four continents through which papal authority had spread: the Nile representing Africa, the Danube representing Europe, the Ganges representing Asia, and the Río de la Plata representing the Americas.

Pizza Navona

Pizza Navona

Another one of Leo's terrific  panoramas, this time of Pizza Navona clearly showing the ancient obelisk erected on top of the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi by Bernini in 1651.  The church is  Sant'Agnese in Agone. This is the site where the Early Christian Saint Agnes was martyred in the ancient Stadium of Domitian. Construction of the church began in 1652 under the architects Girolamo Rainaldi and his son Carlo Rainaldi. After numerous quarrels, the other main architect involved was Francesco Borromini.

Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri

Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri

The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs  is a titular basilica church in Rome, Italy built inside the frigidarium of the Baths of Diocletian in the Piazza della Repubblica.  

The Napoleonic Museum of Rome

The Napoleonic Museum of Rome

Charlotte Bonaparte dressed as a countrywoman of Canino by Jean-Baptiste Wicar. This idyllically  beautiful portrait of Charlotte who was the eldest daughter of Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon's  brother who settled in Rome after splitting with Napoleon over issues of Monarchy vs. Republicanism. 

Napoleonic Museum Rome

Napoleonic Museum Rome

Zenaide and Charlotte Bonaparte by Jacques-Louis David. These two have that impossibly perfect beauty that was a particular brand of neo-classicism making them look a wee bit like boiled potatoes.  I assume this over produced technique  was necessary to gloss over the many flaws  of the period.  
The museum itself occupies the ground floor apartment in the palace  of Count Giuseppe Primoli,  son of Count Pietro Primoli and Princess Charlotte Bonaparte and as such is a little gem of nostalgic indulgence.

At the fall of the Napoleonic empire most of the Bonaparte clan from Matriarch on down dashed to Rome for protection from the Pope. After the way Napoleon treated Pope Pius VII, ie, dragging him to Paris for the coronation and then snatching the crown from the pontifical grasp  and crowing himself... not to mention the pillage of the Vatican museum treasures etc. after all of that,  God only knows why Pius VII was moved to give them a plug nickel much less protection. However,  the Bonapartes came equipped with lots of loot in the form of ill gotten gains and Popes of all stripes are pragmatic creatures so I am sure his protection came at a price. 

The Napoleonic Museum of Rome

The Napoleonic Museum of Rome

Talk about nostalgic indulgence, here we have an over lush still life from the room evoking the memory of the Second Empire (1852-1870). On the mantle is a terracotta portrait statue of Prince Imperial, Eugene Napoleon, named after his mother, Empress Eugenie, reflected in the mirror.

I must confess to having a completely irresponsible facilitation with the over blown opulence of the European imperial colonial period. Fueled as it was by a capitalist rape of the "primitive countries" no wonder the results are over bearing and of questionable taste.

The Napoleonic Museum Rome

The Napoleonic Museum Rome

Here is the man himself, a hard working self made man, who compiled a code of law to combat the arbitrary rule of inherited power. Supposed Emperor of the People, he conquered  by manipulating the existing  enmity between arrogant  aristocratic entitlement and the  rising tide of entrepreneurial invention of social order and material prosperity. Everybody loves a hero who will give them purpose by leading them into a a glorious war. The only problem is that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely and once you have lost your leg, arm, life you become the pariah that we all recoil from because  scars are ugly. 

The Napoleonic Museum Rome

The Napoleonic Museum Rome

I have been harsh responding to this place partly because the relics of glory are so seductive. Yes the impeccable galleries are astonishingly handsome, beautifully displayed, well documented and explained. One of the curators seeing my voracious photographic appetite gave me a top quality English language guide to the museum. While we were there several groups of grade-school age students were intelligently guided on special tours ending in this room (chairs were set up). They were treated to a beautiful concert of piano music of the period to expand their understanding of what they had seen. I was amazed to see professional movers remove the piano afterward which had apparently been hired expressly for the student's concert. I call that money well spent. Not to mention that I was allowed to wander these palatial rooms to the accompaniment of Liszt's  unleashed passion adding a credible pulse to the neo-classical perfection.