Art and sculptures from Hadrian’s Villa: Statue of the young god Hermes, known as ‘Capitoline Antinous’

This week’s sculpture from Hadrian’s Villa is a marble statue of a young nude, the so-called ‘Capitoline Antinous’. It was found in 1723/24 during the time when Giuseppe Fede was undertaking the earliest concerted excavations at the Villa Adriana. However its exact provenance within the Villa is unknown.

The so-called Capitoline Antinous, now considered to be a late Hadrianic / early Antonine copy of an early 4th century BC Greek statue of Hermes, found at Hadrian’s Villa Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums

The gems of Palazzo Altemps

The National Roman Museum is of course situated in Rome, but the collection is divided among different buildings around the city. One of the branches of NRM is situated in the Palazzo Altemps. Designed in XV century, this building passed from hand to hand of many well-off families,  until 1997 when it became a part of the museum. Today it is home to one of the most impressive collections of Greek and Roman sculptures. It is usually not crowded with people and during your visit to Rome this is that rare place where you can feel the luxury of contemplating the sculptures, probably alone just like all those popes, cardinals and other collectors of this kind of beauty.  Or, if you are like me and you usually do street photography, you can just take your time and click: the sculptures look very much alive but I am sure they will not move. Here are the stars of the collection.

Ludovisi Battle Sarcophagus

The Ludovisi Battle sarcophagus in Palazzio Altemps, III century AD
The Ludovisi Battle sarcophagus, III century AD

The Muses in Pictures

This week’s masterpieces from Hadrian’s Villa are eight marble statues depicting seated muses.

In Greek mythology, the Muses were sister goddesses of music, poetry, and other artistic and intellectual pursuits. Poets and other artists often called on them for inspiration. Zeus, the king of the gods, was the father of the Muses. Their mother was Mnemosyne, goddess of memory. It was not until the 1st century BC that each of the Muses began to be related to a specific art. They were worshipped at the Museion of the famous library of Alexandria, from where the modern term “Museum” originates.

The statues were unearthed at Hadrian’s Villa in the 1500′s. They were made at the end of Hadrian’s reign by two Roman workshops reproducing Greek models from the 2nd century BC. The seated muses decorated the scenae frons (stage) of the odeon, a small theatre that could have held around 1,200 people.

The statues are now on display in the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Room of the Muses showing the eight marble statues depicting seated muses that were unearthed in about 1500 at Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli © Carole Raddato