Sunday, 13 April 2014

Moon rock, Michelangelo & Matisse

The Vatican Museums are full of priceless art works , including a statue, 'The Belvedere Apollo',  that was part of the original collection.

However, there are lesser known treasures to be found too. Here are five of my favourites.

Since a hammer attack in 1972, the original Pieta by Michelangelo in St Peter's Basilica has been behind glass. This copy in the Vatican Museums gives you an opportunity to get up close & personal to an incredibly emotive sculpture.
We move from the Renaissance to the 20th century which is represented by the fragments of moon rock displayed along side the Papal flag. The rocks were collected on the  historic Apollo 11 mission, when man first landed on the moon, & gifted to the Vatican. The Papal flag had also accompanied that same moon mission.
In the Gallery of Tapestries scenes from the life of Jesus are depicted, based on drawings by pupils of Raphael. In the Resurrection tapestry Jesus's eyes follow you as you move along the gallery. Spooky.....but also a brilliant example of 'moving perspective'.

My final two treasures are to be found in the Modern Art section of the museums. People usually race through these galleries to get to the Sistine Chapel. I must admit that we have been guilty of this too but last year we took advantage of the Friday night 'Vatican under the Stars' openings and made a point of spending longer in this area.


The  Matisse Room was opened in 2011 to display the life size drawings of the stained glass windows that adorn Matisse's Chapel of our Lady of the Rosary in Vence on the French Riviera. The drawings were donated by Matisse's son. Pierre.
Finally we come to Francis Bacon's 'Pope Innocent X'. This is one of 45 variants of the Velázquez painting that the artist completed. . Both artist's interpretations of the subject lead you to think that you would not like to find yourself brought before this particular pope! 
The original Velázquez can be found in the Galleria Dora Pamphilj - yet another source of little known treasures.

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