In the Chiesa di San Agostini, we saw the Madonna of the Pilgrims (also called Madonna of Loreto) by Caravaggio in 1606, Isaiah by Raphael Sanzio in 1512, Madonna with Child and Saint Anne by Andrea Sansovino in 1512. Also in the church were the remains of Saint Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine, who died November 12, 387.
Last week we visited six churches in a certain area of Rome called Monti and Cielo. San Clemente is an interesting 12th century church built over a 4th century church built over a 2nd century AD pagan temple. The upper church has beautiful mosaics on the apse ceiling and a very large fresco. The older church has frescoes depicting the life of Saint Clement and a fresco showing Christ descending into the underworld to rescue poor souls from Purgatory. The pagan temple has benches and an altar where men (only) shared a meal. Some other parts of this level have been excavated and contain the mint (coinage) of ancient Rome. In a church nearby, San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains), we saw a monumental statue of Moses by Michelangelo in which we can see several of the emotions that Moses may have felt during the Exodus. Yes, on display under the main altar are the chains with which Saint Peter was held in prison (Acts 12:1-7). In another church in that area, Santa Prassede, there was a small column brought to Rome in the 13th century that is supposedly the column at which Christ was flogged. There are other churches and sights in the area that we didn’t have a chance to visit last week.
After mass on Sunday, we walked the short distance to the Scuderie del Quirinale (the stables of the Quirinale) and saw the special exhibit of Tintoretto paintings. Tintoretto lived in Venice 1519 to 1594 and painted mostly sacred art. Since it was a hot day, we were happy that our annual passes allowed us to skip the line and go right in. One of the highlighted paintings was the Miracle of the Slave, which Tintoretto painted early in his career in 1548. Saint Mark miraculously appears to rescue a servant of a knight of Provence, who had been condemned to having his legs broken and his eyes gouged out for honoring the relics of the saint against his master’s will. The implements of torture were broken and scattered on the ground. What was remarkable and caused some discussion about the painting at that time in history is that the slave is highlighted and nude, and the saint’s face was not even visible. Since the database is copyrighted, we cannot paste the picture. But the painting can be viewed from the Web Gallery of Art: http://www.wga.hu/art/t/tintoret/3a/1mark.jpg.
In these extensive exhibits, we’ve been learning some interesting stories that reveal the artists’ personalities. For instance, at one point, several artists, including Tintoretto, were asked to submit a sketch competing for a painting commission for Scuola Grande di San Rocco. Tintoretto knew this school was beginning an ambitious decoration schedule, and really wanted to have that commission. So, rather than the sketch that all the artists were to submit, he quickly finished the painting and donated it to the school. According to their bylaws, they had to accept the gift. Since they then already had a painting that they liked, they canceled the contest and gave Tintoretto the entire commission!
The next exhibit at the Scuderie del Quirinale will feature paintings by Johannes Vermeer, one of the 17th century Dutch masters.
We spent a day at the Capitoline Museum. Part of the museum holds paintings. We saw several paintings by Caravaggio. The Fortune Teller was painted by Caravaggio in 1596. The gypsy woman is pretending to tell the fortune of the young man, but she is really stealing his ring. It is amazing that we can get up close to these priceless art treasures. This painting can be viewed from the Web Gallery of Art: http://www.wga.hu/art/c/caravagg/01/07fortun.jpg. Caravaggio painted two versions of this work. The painting in the Capitoline Museum may not be a genuine Caravaggio. The painting in the Louvre in Paris done about a year later is definitely by Caravaggio and information for that painting in the Web Gallery of Art relates the story above.