Focus on the Augustus of Prima Porta

On the occasion of two-thousandth anniversary of the death of the first emperor of Rome, the marble masterpiece Augustus of Prima Porta returns to the Vatican Museums following its great public success in exhibitions in Rome and Paris.

Found in the villa of Livia in Prima Porta, the statue is a portrait of Augustus as a handsome and young ruler, wearing a decorated cuirass and a tunic, with the figure of Cupid riding a dolphin on his side.

Look closely, though, and you’ll notice something curious: the Emperor has no boots. Art historians debate the significance of this, however, appearing barefoot was an attribute of divinity in art of the ancient world. Though likely based on a bronze statue created during Augustus’ reign, according to many scholars, the Prima Porta must be posthumous, since the Roman Senate deified Augustus a month after his death two thousand years ago in AD 14.

In other words, the Prima Porta Augustus, (named after the villa where it was found, which once belonged to his widow, the Empress Livia), is not simply a portrait of Rome’s first emperor – it is also a vision of a god.

You can admire the statue at the Vatican Museum at the entrance of the Gregorian Profane Museum. Special thanks to the Florida Chapter of patrons who helped us restore this iconic statue as one of their first projects.

If you want to be involved as a patron in your local chapter and participate in important projects like the one that restored the Augustus, contact your local chapter leader.

 

The Augustus of Prima Porta is based on the Doryphorus, a famous antique statue by Polykleitos portraying the ideal human proportions of an Athenian athlete.

The Augustus of Prima Porta is based on the Doryphorus, a famous antique statue by Polykleitos portraying the ideal human proportions of an Athenian athlete.

Tiberius made a significant addition to his marble copy: on the chest plate, he added scenes depicting the Roman victory over the Parthians.

Tiberius made a significant addition to his marble copy: on the chest plate, he added scenes depicting the Roman victory over the Parthians.

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Augustus wanted to portray himself as a perfect leader with flawless features, personifying the power and authority of the emperor.



 

Ohio Chapter’s Restoration of the First Popemobile

Traditionally, when a pope wanted to travel, he was carried in the sedia gestaoria: a chair carried on the shoulders of a number of papal attendants. Transportation at the time was such that the Pope rarely could leave the hallowed halls of Vatican City. However, in the  mechanized age, Papal transportation began to be more modernized. in 1930, during the priestly jubilee of Pius XI (1922-1939) a special automobile arrived. Pius XI’s actually received a few cars, but possibly the most remarkable was a Graham Paige limousine given to him by the Graham brothers from America (members of the Knights of Columbus – he also had a prestigious Citroën “Lictoria” made in Milan, and a Nurburg style Mercedes Benz).

The limousine was presented in the Vatican on November 9, 1929. Carriage-work was made by the famous American coachbuilder, LeBaron and the sumtuous upholstery was in silk of Havana brown and silver, with the metal accents in gold. Recently, due to the efforts of the Ohio Chapter, the car was restored and now resides in the Vatican Carriage Museum. It remains one of the most fascinating exhibits there.

Today, when we picture the Popemobile, it’s the Mercedes with the bulletproof glass.  Since an assassination attempt on then-Pope John Paul II in 1981, the head of the Roman Catholic Church has customarily used the custom-made glass-sided Popemobile when in public. But Pope Francis told a Spanish newspaper that he prefers not to use a bulletproof Popemobile despite the dangers of an assassination attempt because it walls him off from people.

Link to Pope Francis’s Popemobile interview

“It’s true that anything could happen, but let’s face it, at my age I don’t have much to lose,” he told Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia in an interview published Friday and reported on in English by Vatican Radio. “I know that something could happen to me, but it’s in the hands of God.”

Never been to the Carriage Museum? That’s because it’s been a bit difficult to find inside the Vatican – and that’s a shame, because it houses some wonderful pieces. Help us bring more traffic to the Carriage Pavilion – with your help we can create a new modern entrance that attracts visitors and befits the grandeur of the exhibits – be a Popemobile patron! http://www.vatican-patrons.org/new-entrance-of-the-carriages-museum-2205

See the classic car (and much more) at the Carriage Museum. It’s not to be missed.

Dr. Sandro Barbagallo, Assistant Director of the Vatican Museums, with the Graham Paige Limo.

Dr. Sandro Barbagallo, Assistant Director of the Vatican Museums, with the Graham Paige Limo.

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Proposed plans for the new Carriages Museum Entrance in our 2015 WISHBOOK.

Proposed plans for the new Carriages Museum Entrance in our 2015 WISHBOOK.

Illinois Patrons during their Chapter Visit in the Carriage Museum with Vatican Museums Director Antonio Paolucci

Illinois Patrons during their Chapter Visit in the Carriage Museum with Vatican Museums Director Antonio Paolucci

Glorious Globes: Two 17th Century Painted Globes

Two Globes crafted by G.J. Blaeu (1571-1638) were transferred in the Paper Restoration Lab in 2008 to be painstakingly restored.  One is the globe of the earth while the other shows the 48 constellations as cited by Ptolemy. The two papier-mâché globes are covered in painted incised paper. See the pictures of the process needed to restore them here.

Blaeu was a student of famous astronomer Tycho Brahe, and made the artistry of globes and maps his whole life.  In 1599, he founded a printing press dedicated to the manufacturing of globes,  as well as nautical and scientific instruments. In 1625, he founded the Blaviana Office in Amsterdam, the official map maker for the Indian Company. His most famous work is the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum sive Atlas Novus, published in two volumes in 1635 was reprinted many times until 1655. One interesting facet of the pieces, two globes were continually “updated” with copper as new discoveries were made.

In the Diagnostic Lab, the globes was analyzed through reflectography, photographic documentation with UV fluorescence, analysis of the pigments and stratigraphic analysis.  Restorers studied the components order to define typology and to identify the process and technique with which it was assembled. There are few documents about these globes, so they had to collecting information on other similar globes located in Museums in Bologna and Florence in order to track down the history of these beautiful works of art. Thank you to our California Chapter for helping us to keep preserve treasures like these.

Antonio Paolucci, Director of the Vatican Museums, in the restoration labs with the Blaeu Globes

Antonio Paolucci, Director of the Vatican Museums, in the restoration labs with the Blaeu Globes

Ohio Chapter’s Completed Project, “San Salvatore di Ossibus”

Look at what we can do! 2011 gave us the renovation of The Church of St. Salvatore of Terrione, known as “di Ossibus”. Thanks again to the Ohio Chapter members Mr. and Mrs. Dodero for all of their help in bringing this landmark back to life. Today this exceptional chapel houses a shelter directed by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. In the chapel of St. Salvatore they gain strength to joyfully serve the poorest of the poor with a soup kitchen that offers warm meals daily. See more specifics on the project here.

 

The Church of San Salvatore of Terrione, or di Ossibus in Vatican City

The Church of San Salvatore of Terrione, or di Ossibus in Vatican City

Restoration Process includes for the Paintings: - Re-adhesion and consolidation of plaster - Restoration of pictorial film - Cleaning of pictorial surfaces - Reintegration & touch-up of painting - Chromatic adjustment of the decorative scores - Restoration of marble - Photographic documentation

Restoration Process includes for the Paintings:
– Re-adhesion and consolidation of plaster
– Restoration of pictorial film
– Cleaning of pictorial surfaces
– Reintegration & touch-up of painting –
Chromatic adjustment of the decorative scores
– Restoration of marble
– Photographic documentation

11 Chinese Scrolls Restored Thanks to Our Texas Chapter

Check out work from our Texas Chapter!
Gardens blossom in our artistic projects too: one prominent restoration project centers on 11 sumptuous Chinese scrolls depicting flowers in bloom. These beautiful pieces are by Yun Shouping – also known as Nantian (1633 – 1690). He was one of the “Six Masters” of the Qing period and adorned his poetic scrolls with brilliant and intricate flower patterns. The Vatican Museum is dedicated to restoring these unique delicate scrolls so they can be displayed and kept safe from the elements. This restoration was generously sponsored by Robert F. Smith.  Learn more here:http://texasvaticanpatrons.org/portfolio-items/eleven-chinese-scrolls-by-yun-shouping/

Check out our Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Patrons-of-the-Arts-in-the-Vatican-Museums/131874896849296

Elegant Ceremonial Headdress

Artist: Unknown
Date: 19ty-20th Century
Material: Feathers of the Bird of Paradise, Bamboo, Vegetable Fibers, Shells, Wood

This elegant ceremonial headdress with two feathered sceptres belonged to the Mekeo population in Papua New Guinea, and dates from the early twentieth century. These objects were donated in 1925 by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart to the new Missionary Ethnological Museum.

This ceremonial attire, composed of an elegant ritual headdress was made with feathers of various birds including birds of paradise and cockatoos, commissioned by the missionaries to the Mekeo natives. Thus these pieces are a perfect reproduction of the original traditional attire used in the Mekeo ceremonies. Reports state that the making of such objects was an ancient secret of the mountain people.

Headdress

Room of the Tributes

The room of the Tributes is located at the southern end of the Gallery of the “Ancient Library in the Vatican Museums.” The name “Sala degli Indirizzi” was given to this room during the pontificate of Pio XI (1922-1939), who decided to display the tributes of homage sent to Pope Leo XIII and Saint Pio X by the faithful dioceses throughout the world.

The decoration of the vault, the lunettes and the frieze were all completed by Andrea Giorgini and Filippo Agricola in 1818 during the Pontificate of Pope Pius VII. All the artwork was in very poor condition for a long period of time.

Before the restoration commenced, the painted surfaces exhibited a considerable concentration of debris and scaling of the pigments with eminent loss of colours and cracks on the pictorial surface, especially on the blue background. The surface of the ceiling and lunettes still bears fissures in the wooden material and stucco frames. The lunettes with the prophets display several previous touch-ups done through the centuries.FOTO DIGITALE

The restorers Marco Pratelli and Bruno Mattei along with Maestro Maurizio De Luca, Head of the Restoration Labs, and Professor Ulderico Santamaria, Head of the Scientific Laboratory, did several tests to determine which restoration process would be most suitable. After a time of trail, they developed a special process to clean these works given that they have special characteristics – tempera a secco (on the plaster ceiling) as well as on the wood decorations. Their patient application of the scientific method has given wonderful results as you will witness in your visit and as shown in the attached photographs.

They have finished several of the lunettes already as well as various decorative designs in wood. In general the various elements that enter into the work are the following: Vacuum removal of the superficial deposits, re-stabilising the pictorial surface using acrylic resin, cleaning of the painted surfaces, re-stabilising the adhesion between the wall support and the plaster, sealing cracks and crevices, pictorial reintegration by watercolour technique and pigments in powder form.

The lunette of tempera on wood at the end of the hall has been removed and sent to a different restoration department since they were more adapt for this kind of restoration.

The Room of the Tributes was restored thanks to the generosity of Joseph Incaudo of the California Chapter, in loving memory of his wife, Beatrice.

 

The Annunciation Near a Seaside Town

The Annunciation Near a Seaside Town by Marco Palmezzano came to the Vatican Pinocoteca in 1909 after having first been in the Lateran Pinacoteca from 1844.

The encounter of the Virgin Mary with the Angel occurs outside the entrance of a palatial portico. A seaside town is in the background. The bay is teeming with ships. A second church-like building, crowned with statues at the base of its cupola, lifts heavenward an octagonal tower decorated by ornate classical marble statues and reliefs, framing this angelic greeting in a classical setting.

The Eternal Father who is surrounded by a glory of cherubs with the earth in his right hand, watches over the Annunciation. Mary interrupts the prayers she is reciting and stands from the pillow on which she is kneeling to listen to the words of the divine messenger. On the left Gabriel, kneeling before the Virgin is profiled while his right hand holds a lily and the right is extended in a gesture of salutation. Opposite him, Mary, standing before the ambo, crosses her arms over her chest in an expression of mixed unrest, distress, emotion, and confusion.

This painting was moved to the restoration laboratories due to the peeling of the colors. The previous support was made of ten vertical axis held by three transversal pieces. The frame was fixed with a variety of “butterfly” inserts. These inserts have since caused some problems because they do not allow for the proper flexibility, thus creating new fissures and lesions on the support and pictorial surface. Multiple types of insects have also infiltrated the wood.

The pictorial surface had been darkened by a slight layer of altered varnish that had compromised a correct reading of the colours. These were located above all on the extremities of the painting. Cohesion and adhesion of the pigments were generally satisfactory, but the paint along the junctions of the panels and the unions of the axis of support was in critical condition.

The beams were damaged at several points. The butterfly inserts were also deformed and damaged, thus causing new cracks in several places. Subsequent signs of deterioration were observed in the preparation and on the paint film.

The restoration consisted of a protective coating of the front in order to fix the back structure of the wooden panel and insert wooden wedges along the fractures (fissures). The back of the panel was provided with a new system which will support the movements of the panel itself. In regard to the front, the work was welded at the pigments and a reintegration of the missing parts made possible with water colors. The restoration was completed with an overall aesthetic rendering and a layer of final protective varnish.

This restoration was made possible due to the generosity of Mr. Richard Zappone from the Pennsylvania Chapter.

Copia di Annunciation Near a Seaside Town A0008798 scont