Art, archaeology, and Caravaggio in the world's first museum
The Capitoline Museums in the centre of Rome date its creation back to 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV donated a group of bronze statues of great symbolic value to the People of Rome. The actual museum first opened to the public in 1734 and is considered the first museum in the world.
Stairs leading up to Capitoline Hill and the museums.
Situated in Piazza del Campidoglio, atop Capitoline Hill, the museums are made up of three buildings situated around a piazza in a design by Michaelangelo. Between them, they house artistic and archaeological treasures from the city.
The grand staircase takes you to the first set of rooms, the Conservator's Apartment. These were once used by the Conservators or magistrates. Each room is decorated with frescoes and tapestries representing the history of Ancient Rome.
The first rooms of The Conservator's Apartment are filled with frescoes by Giuseppe Cesari, representing the history of Ancient Rome
And sculptures including the Capitoline Wolf. The she-wolf is shown suckling Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome. They were said to have been saved by her after being cast into the River Tiber and left to die.
This bronze of a she wolf has become the emblem of Rome. It represents the saving of Romulus and Remus, the twins who are said to be the founders of Rome.
If you follow the arrows currently guiding visitors through a one-way system, you'll pass through the sculptural and archaeological exhibits of the museum until you find yourself in the new glass hall. This houses the huge equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius together with some of the great Capitoline bronzes, the Hercules in gilded bronze from the Foro Boario, and remains of the bronze colossus of Constantine.
The second floor of the museum houses the Capitoline Art Gallery, with paintings from medieval times to the Renaissance. The collections are divided up in terms of era, and region.
One artist who had a major influence on art in the late 16th century is of course Caravaggio. And in the rooms housing the collections from Rome, you'll find two of his works; one of San Giovanni Battista (John the Baptist), and the other La Buona Ventura (The Fortune Teller).
San Giovanni Battista (John the Baptist), by Caravaggio
For those interested in Caravaggio, the museum is currently hosting Il Tempo di Caravaggio (The Time of Caravaggio), which brings together a collection of masterpieces from the Roberto Longhi collection.
Opening the exhibition is Caravaggio's famous 'Boy Bitten by a Green Lizard'. One of two versions painted around 1596 (the other is in the National Gallery, London). Alongside this are over forty works by artists who throughout the 17th century were influenced by Caravaggio's figurative revolution. The aim is to represent "the artistic climate of Lombard and Venetian mannerism in which Caravaggio trained".
The art historian and collector Roberto Longhi (1890 – 1970) dedicated himself to the study of Caravaggio at a time when the artist was still considered one of the "lesser-known painters of Italian art".
The collection of works on display include the Deposition of Christ by Battistello Caracciolo, one of the first Neapolitan followers of Caravaggio. Four tablets by Lorenzo Lotto and two paintings by Battista del Moro and Bartolomeo Passarotti.
The temporary exhibition runs until the 13th September. And can be found in the exhibition hall of Palazzo Caffarelli, part of the Capitoline Museums.