Storia d’Arte all’Ambasciata

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.

Italian Tidbit:

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.



Filed under Culture, Rome

2 responses to “Storia d’Arte all’Ambasciata

  1. dave

    Seems that often the story behind the work of art is at least as interesting as the work itself and the motivations of the artist are far more base than the modern day, snooty ,”patrons of the arts” like to believe.

    thanks for sharing

  2. Your blog is interesting. It was nice going through your blog. Keep it up the good work. Cheers :)

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