Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Favorite Art Collections at Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums)

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0"

My first European trip consisted the visits to Italy and France in the jubilee year 2000.  We arrived in Rome and the first museums we visited were the Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums).  I definitely started from the top.

There were too many treasures to mention there, including the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo's greatest masterpiece - the Creation and the Last Judgement.  Yet, two sculptures edged them out in my book.  The first is the so-called Belvedere Apollo.  To me, this classical sculpture was the embodiment of perfection.  This young god, with his beautifully proportioned limbs, wonderfully shaped torso, and finely chiseled face and curly locks, displayed himself without hesitation and discomfort.  This sculpture is the ode to an era which valued human and humanity the most and rightly so it became the symbol of the ideal.  Only Michelangelo's David in Florence, Italy, came close to the radiant humanity, confidence and beauty.

Belvedere Apollo (2nd century Roman copy of 4th century BC bronze sculpture of artist from Attica) (Cortile ottagonale del Belvedere, Octagonal Court of Belvedere)
Source: Cambridge 2000 Gallery

The second choice of mine is the opposite in mood and movement.  It was a group sculpture -Trojan priest Laocoön and his sons Antiphantes and Thymbraeus being strangled by sea serpents, as depicted by Homer in Iliad.   This much-admired Laocoön and his Sons has been attributed by Pliny the Elder to the Rhodian sculptors Agesander, Athenodoros, and Polydorus.

Here, they were in fear, agony and terror.  They struggled and fought, helplessly. Yet, they were not an entangled mess.  They were clearly delineated, beautifully illustrated and as if even horrible death could not destroy the humanness of these three, however pitiful they were.

This sculpture is full of movements and dynamic poses.  Highly dramatic and effective yet never betrayed the economy of classics.  An absolute masterpiece.

U.S. public domain, source: Wikipedia

Laocoön and his Sons, attributed to the Rhodian sculptors Agesander, Athenodoros, and Polydorus, Musei Vaticani _ 8093 - 500

My Favorite Museum Collection Series

>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 11: My Favorite Artworks at Galleria Borghese, Rome
<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 9: My Favorite Paintings at National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

List of My Favorite Artworks in the Museums I've Visited

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