02. Ancient Mediterranean, Art & Humanities, Europe, Italy

Tuesday in Rome: Palazzo Massimo

Tuesday in Rome: Palazzo Massimo

I promise THIS is the last Rome post. Want to read the others?

I didn’t even know this museum existed; I went searching for it however when I found out one of my favorite ancient pieces of art was in it (which I incorrectly first thought was in the Capitoline Museum).


Seated Boxer

First I’ll give you a second to look at him, I mean really look at him. Look into his empty eyes and you can see and feel his emotions. I know, a little sappy, but I love it!

He is a defeated boxer; his full beard indicates that he is beyond the prime of life. His face is scratched and he has cauliflower ear (puffiness), indicators of years of boxing. His hands hang limp, wrapped for a fight, but the real catch is his face – he seems to look longingly upwards, perhaps towards his younger, fitter victor. Perhaps for the first time, realizing his mortality. This is why I love him. Disclaimer: All these fluffy art feelings are really my own.



The Diskobolos is a Roman marble copy of a lost Greek bronze. How can we tell it’s a copy? Maybe the artist only made this one? Well, the material is what gives it away. Bronze is much lighter than marble. This means that there are positions you can put your sculptures into in bronze that are impossible in marble without support. If you look closely at the photo below you will see an awkward tree trunk and a support beam on his left hand. These are used to help the statue stay up, it’s not exactly aesthetically pleasing and distracts from the subject: a naked man throwing a discus.

We can also tell the period of the Greek bronze without having the Greek bronze. This piece is described as being between the Early and High Classical phases. The discus-thrower gives us all the answers. The Early Classical period had more severe art, art without much emotion. If you look at his face he doesn’t look like he’s doing much work, very much unlike Bernini’s David from a previous post. In contrast, his body is seriously doing work! It twists and turns and the muscles pull, like they would in real life: Bernini’s highly active pose is very different.


The Hermaphrodite

I took a picture of this just because it’s a hermaphrodite; childish of me? Yes, but it was a long day. Enjoy!


An Etruscan Sarcophagus

Egyptians aren’t the only ones who buried their dead in elaborate sarcophagi. Look at the serious detail on this one!


Mosaics & Frescos

I especially love mosaics; I like looking at the intricate details and pieces involved. I especially appreciate this museum’s reconstructions of interiors of homes with their mosaics and frescoes (painting directly on walls). Also they show photos of it in situ (in its original position), that always helps you understand how people lived in these spaces. It’s sometimes hard to remember that these art pieces were once not in museums, they were used as personal or public expressions.

Read more: Painting Techniques in Art History



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