The jewel of the fresco collection is the dining room from the Villa of Livia, the beautifully preserved testament to the art of the Augustan Age. But equally fascinating are the stucco work and frescoes from the Villa Farnesina that have been newly displayed in celebration of the Museum's 10th anniversary. But for me the most delightful set of frescoes is the recently added fragments from a 1st century columbarium relocated from their original site in Villa Doria Pamphili, Rome's largest park.
a cemetery that can still be visited - three levels below the current church; beyond the walls of the city the lava rock landscape is riddled with catacombs that make modern building excavation both risky and problematic. Various columbaria around the city have been found and excavated but very few are open to the public for viewing so the transfer of these fragments to the Massimo gives the opportunity to see a type of Roman art not often available.
There were as many beliefs about the afterlife in Rome as there were religions - and there were many of both! The general feeling was that the dead, living in their tombs, could in some undefined way influence the fortunes of the living. So it was deemed wise to err on the side of generosity in the way of gifts and offerings to the deceased - just in case. Celebrations and feasts in the tombs, cemeteries, columbaria and catacombs were frequent and often very elaborate. In many ways akin to today's observances on All Souls' Day.
Roman frescoes have come down to us in relatively good condition, the colours often still vibrant, the shading subtle and the details crisp. This can be attributed to the method of painting employed: Buon fresco or real fresco. It accounts for the simple - almost cartoon like - deft strokes of the brush as the artist raced against time to finish before the lime plaster dried.
|Water colours painted quickly into the drying layer of plaster required a deft hand in a bit of a race against time. I am constantly surprised at the small details and shadings in something like the simplest bunch of grapes or figs.|
16marzo - Sant'Eusebio