I wrote last time that I recently returned home from a trip to Italy. That trip began in Rome . It was my third time visiting La Citta Eterna – “The Eternal City” – and yet there are still many things and places that I have not seen.
However, here are some photographs made with my pocket digital camera of things that I obviously have seen. Many were made in museums, as one cannot reasonably go to Italy without seeing much of the great art that is there. (As it is, I’ve gotten my film used in Rome developed, but as I have a lot of earlier travel pictures from film to post, the new ones will have to wait.)
The two museums that I had enough free time from my tour to see were the Museo d’Arte Antica in the Palazzo Barberini and the the Galleria Borghese in the large Villa Borghese park. The Museo d’Arte Antica features mostly paintings, and one notable highlight here is Raphael’s “La Fornarina,” which is supposedly a depiction of his girlfriend. Another great one, totally different in nature, is Caravaggio’s “Judith and Holofernes,” showing the biblical heroine giving the chop to the Babylonian general whose forces were about to attack Israel.
One of the things that was different about this trip as compared to the last is that museums generally allow photography now (without using a flash, that is). One definite example is the Galleria Borghese.. When I was there eight years ago, I had to check my camera in a locker, but this time photography was permitted.
Among the highlights of the Galleria Borghese’s collection are several superb sculptures by the great baroque artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini. His sculpture illustrating the mythological story of Apollo pursuing Daphne may be the most beautiful work of art in all of Italy.
“The Rape of Prosperina,” showing Pluto, the god of the underworld, carrying off Prosperina (aka Persephone) is another masterwork, but just about all of the photos I had seen of it neglected to include Bernini’s fantastic inclusion of Cerberus, the three headed Hound of Hell, who was accompanying his master. As you can see below, I was finally able to photograph it myself – and it really is quite a thing to see.
Then there is Antonia Canova’s well known statue of Napoleon Bonaparte’s younger sister, Paolina Borghese, depicted as Venus, nude from the waist up and reclining on a couch. From what I have read, her husband wanted her to be shown fully clothed as the goddess Diana, but she insisted on being Venus. Apparently the statue was somewhat scandalous in its time, her husband not wanting it to be shown publicly. When a journalist asked Paolina Borghese if she felt uncomfortable posing in the nude, she responded that she did not, as the room was quite warm.
By the way, my photograph here of this sculpture is meant to mimic a well known photograph made of it by the photojournalist David Seymour, which can be seen here.