The details of Michelangelo’s David

052    On March 6th, the anniversary of Michelangelo Buonarrotti’s birthday I had the chance to finally visit the David. Upon walking into the Accademia there is no excitement, the first room is yellow tinted with unappealing lighting. In the center stands an early cast of Rape of the Sabines by Giambologna, the walls carry scattered paintings. Turn left and you enter a long hallway where suddenly the David strikes you. The hallway includes a number of statues by Michelangelo as well but they are impossible to focus on when there is the beacon of natural light meeting marble at then end of the hall.

It is impossible not to rush straight ahead to the David. He stands on a pediment, and although I have seen the one in Piazza della Signoria, I thought the real statue was smaller. This massive larger than life statue holds your attention. A large part of this is due to its position.  A jewel of the museum it is almost as if the museum was built around this statue, rather than having it moved there later.

Michelangelo David Florence


When I imagined David smaller, I imagined the viewer could meet his gaze, whereas in reality Michelangelo’s ability to create moving emotion shows through and David intently looks up to his left, as if meeting the gaze of Goliath.  In reality, it originally looked to Rome, a message sent from the Medici Democracy to the Papal State.

While his gaze does not meet the views, the strong aspect of his hand and his overall presence within the space is enough to complete a sense of awe.

Michelangelo's David Gaze Michelangelo's David, Hand detail

Once the viewer can pull themselves back into the moment, away from the statue, the other statues in the hall become clearer. Of these 6 other statues, 4 are Michelangelo’s unfinished Slaves, meant to be placed on the Pope Julius II tomb. While they may not seem “beautiful” in our eyes that are trained to see finished works as beautiful, they reveal a new part of the process. How does a block of marble become an inspiring work of art? Michelangelo carved from the front back, having the figures emerge. When looking at these however, it appears the reverse, that the figures are slowly melting back into the marble.


The Angels of Ponte Sant’Angelo

The Angels of Ponte SantAngelo

Leading up to Castel Sant’Angleo is what we now call the Ponte Sant’Angelo, however it has had many names. In the past it was known as Pons Aelius, that is Hadrian’s Bridge, as the structure which stands there is actually Hadrian’s Mausoleum. Later it was known as Pons Sancti Petri because pilgrims would take this bridge to read St. Peters Basilica.

Though the bridge looks beautiful today with its many angels draped in flowing cloth, it has quite a dark history. The bridge collapsed once killing many pilgrims who were trapped on it. It was then used a exhibition space for the bodies of executed criminals, much like the Appia Antica once was. Later under Pope Clement IX in 1669 the bridge was cleaned up and decorated with these angels.

Many books may say these angels were done by Bernini, however they were only completed under his school, and the two which Bernini actually worked on, the originals remain in Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, where they can be seen today.

There are 10 Angels, all holding symbols of the Passion, this includes: Column, Whips, Crown of Thorns, Sudarium, Garment and Dice, Nails, Cross, superscription, Sponge and lance. Every Angel was completed by a different member of Bernini s pupils.

Though Bernini did not personally work on every one, his style is obvious and each Angel is just as beautiful as any original work of his.

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Clouds over Barberini

Clouds over Barberini

(Click to enlarge.)
The clouds breakng over Piazza Barberini. Piazza Barberini is a 16th century square however the fountain shown here, named the Triton Fountain was done by Bernini in 1642.

The square is named Barberini for the Palace of the Barberini family located around the corner.


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Centrale Montemartini: Industrial Classics


Centrale Montemartini as a structure was built in 1912 as Rome’s first public electricity plant, lighting about half the modern city. It went out of use in 1963, then in 1990 was used as a gallery exhibition space, finally in 1997 coming into ownership of the Capitoline museums.  Originally part of the collection was moved to be stored, but then the museum decided to open it as an extension because they found the space to be perfect.

The space still holds all the old engines and industrial equipment of the original plant, and the sculptures and other pieces are displayed by incorporating these industrial pieces.  It truly displays a postmodernist feel by combining these two historical eras, these two very important aspects of Rome’s past.

Walking in the first sculpture is Aphrodite in pentelic marble, side by side with a turn of the century cast-iron extraction pump, is the perfect image of these two eras’ side by side. It is the most definitely the most picturesque image a museum could open with.

From then on it is up to the visitor where they would like to go, there is a ground floor and upstairs. Almost all the downstairs is Roman original painting and original sculpture. This includes the oldest original wall painting found. Other items include beautiful mosaics, and ivory carved pieces from a funerary spire. Upstairs is mainly sculpture, often copied from Greeks. Many of the sculptures were from Roman gardens. Some others are from temples, such as the pediment of Hercules 9th labor against the Amazons, where Augustus is depicted as Hercules. This came from the Temple of Apollo Sosianus, this was dedicated to the god Apollo Medicus who was a god of well-being and protection during military campaigns. This temple was restored in 33BC by Sosias in order to pay tribute to Augustus. Sosias had fought for Marc Antony and Cleopatra at Actium, but for some reason had been spared.

All the upstairs collection is shown with the engines, shown together it is really amazing to see how ideals have changed. Once where power was shown by the level of sculpture shown in one’s gardens, power became electricity and industry. Once the god’s who are depicted in all these sculptures were worshipped daily as ones who controlled everything on earth, now electricity is the real power, holding the biggest importance in all individuals life.

Though it is out of the way I do recommend seeing this extension to the Capitoline, it is a small collection but it is most interesting to see the old industrial part of Rome. It is even more interessing to see these things interacting together. The museum is located in Ostiense by Garbatella Metro stop. But it is also possible to get to the museum by walking from Piramide straight down the road (one over to the left from the wall).