Art History at the Embassy
Recently we took an art tour at the American Embassy, figuring it would be nice to know the significance of the things that we walk by every day. A lot of it went over our heads, since much of it related to the marks left on the property by its various owners throughout the centuries. So, I’ll tell you what I remember as being the most interesting. (Besides statue of the Roman God who is so drunk that he’s sprawled out naked next to a fountain, but not so drunk that he has turned into a goat yet. Good thing he knows when to stop?)
The crown jewel of the collection at the embassy is a full size woman getting out of the bath – remarkable for its time in that Roman sculpture had just started migrating from stiff figures facing forward, to softer sculptures that suggested movement. The detail in her hair and the fabric draped across her body is impressive – even if you’re not a student of Art. (Which I am not, really).
The sculpture is considered to be a masterwork by an artist whose name I’ve already forgotten. However, I do remember the juicy tidbits surrounding how the sculpture came to be as a ‘private commission’. Apparently the sculptor was the house sculptor for the Medici family. (Kind of like having your own maid or cook, but if you’re uber-rich apparently you have your own sculptor). Usually he was very busy doing commissions for the Medici family – various busts, or sculpturual parting gifts for visitors. But this sculpture was not part of the artists commissions for the Medici household, it was owned by a unrelated Noble couple. At first the art curators couldn’t figure out how it was that the sculptor would have had the time to do such a large sculpture as a private commission. Until they found the link. Apparently the wife in this noble couple was one of the most beautiful women of the day, and the male head of the Medici household was in love with her.
Nepotism comes from the Italian word Nipote, meaning nephew. The meaning of Nepotism came about from when it was very common in the catholic church for the Pope’s Nephew to become the next pope.