Archives for November 2011
Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the twenty “Santa Maria” churches listed in our guide to Rome, and one of the five great basilicas of Rome. The first time I saw the church it was summer and it was so crowded that the only part I could see easily was the wonderful ceiling:
and here’s a detail
Here is a statue of Pope Pius IX praying in front of a reliquary supposedly containing fragments of Christ’s crib. Notice the wonderful coloured marble on the walls.
The Pantheon was originally a Roman temple completed by Hadrian almost 1900 years ago, and looks solid enough to stand another 1900 years.
My husband Roy has helped me a lot–a lot!–with this post. Just in case you notice any difference in style. Just saying:-)
On arriving in Rome our first stop was–wait for it!–St Paul’s Within the Walls, the American Episcopal Church in Rome—the first non-Catholic church in Rome. An unusual lovely little church decorated by the pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones in mosaics. It is not well known, and rather hard to find in guidebooks. (If you are interested in visiting, it is on Via Nazionale, Rome). Remarkably we had seen the painting these mosaics were based on up close at an exbibition at the Ashmolean museum in Oxford a few months earlier. The mosaics are much more striking than the paintings.
|The dome above the altar in St. Paul’s within the Walls|
Just above the arc of flowing water there are inscriptions in Hebrew and Greek — the former the beginning of Genesis, and the latter the beginning of Revelation. Here are some details
|Detail — angelic choir|
(‘In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ John 16.33)
Burne-Jones was especially pleased with the design ‘it said as much as anything I have ever done’ … but acknowledged that ‘everything is done to make it not a picture … and few will understand it’. When the large body colour version was shown at the New Gallery in 1888 ‘no one even looked at it’.
The last and most dramatic design was never executed: an apocalyptic vision of Satan and his angelic army swarming out from the gate of heaven, a dark regiment of beautiful knights who might have stepped straight from the chorus of Parsifal.
and an obelisk built by Thuthmose IV (ca. 1400 BC), then transported to the Circus Maximus and finally relocated here
The interior decorated from ceiling to floor.
|The dome above the apse|
|This looks almost lime a museum display, but is actually a detail from the ceiling near the altar.|
|Another detail — it is not easy to take a square shot looking straight up.|
And here is view of the whole ceiling above the nave.
The walls — marble everywhere!
The church was empty and we could enjoy the floor which had a variety of simple tessellations that produce a 3-D illusion that the mind can interpret in different ways. Here is one
The church is attached to to a cloister, which as always has a peaceful beauty:
Notice the variety in the columns
Earlier remains on display:
But, with luck, oh body, if I look after you, and you look after me, we might still have have another 50 years together. And many more Thanksgivings. And believe me, I fully intend to look after you.
|St. Luke very high up in the central cupola — taxing my pont-n-shoot’s capabilities.|
|The guilded interior of the dome of St Peter’s|
|Coming down a little there are numerous inlaid marble columns|
|Like most of the “paintings” in St. Peter’s, this, St. Jerome’s Last Communion, is a mosiac.|
|Of course, St. Peter would feature prominently. (I have omitted the Pieta, which is the most famous sculpture in St. Peter’s)|
|There are several attractive floor vents, well polished by the shoes of the faithful. This was about 1.2 m wide.|
|Two happy tourists begin their tour.|
|That’s enough for one day.|
|The Hall of Maps — a very long corridor with maps of different regions of hte world on the walls between the windows. No doubt Popes paced this walk and studied the maps with very secular concerns.|
|Details from the ceiling.|
|Raphael’s gorgeous transfiguration had an uncrowded room all to itself.|
Two decorative ceilings
Here are some images from one of Raphael’s four rooms (this one is Stanza della Segnatura).
Two views of the ceiling–together covering the whole.
The School of Athens is a Who’s Who of Greek leaning. Below are Plato and Aristole (top left), Diogenes (reclining on the steps) and Archimedes or Euclid (bottom right drawing with a compass). The man with dark hair in the bottom right is thought to be Rapahel himself.
|In the centre foreground is Michelangelo, easily recognised from his trademark boots.|
|The seated figure with abook is Pythagoras. On the left edge is Epicurus holding a plate.|