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Apr 8, 2015

5 Must-see Fine Art Nudes in Rome.

1. Esquiline Venus (Capitoline Museums).
Nudes in art date from the Paleolithic age when curvy and bumper statuettes carved in stone, female bodies with abundant breasts, were regarded as symbols of fertility (Venus of Willendorf, c. 28,000 B.C.E–25,000 B.C.E.)                        

Aesthetically the representation of the naked body over the centuries is the result of different cultural systems.

In Greece, in the V century B.C. the anatomy of the human body becomes the object of scientific studies and Polykleitos provides a 'code': his aesthetic theories for artistic perfection being based on mathematics. Ancient Greeks competed naked or covered only by a thong.  Athletes became models: nudity immortalized by artists, such as Myron, a promise of perfection and beauty. 

In the Middle Ages, this conception faces a metamorphosis due to Christianity and if the body becomes the sacred urn of the spirit, it could nevertheless lead to sin and damnation.
For Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo the nude is a symbol of purity,  based on classic models, refined by the study of human anatomy and alluding to strength and spiritual courage (Michelangelo's David). 

2. Hermaphroditus
(Palazzo Massimo).

In 1545, the Council of Trent marks the end of freedom to represent the nude in art and artists are encouraged to be inspired by biblical stories. In 1559, Pope Paul IV ordered to cover Michelangelo's nudes in the Last Judgement. Through art the clergy tries to control 'heretical' ideas.

3. One of Michelangelo's
Sistine Chapel

In the 17th century, the attitude is controversial: 'sacred' and 'profane' coexist in artists like Caravaggio or Bernini. 
One century later naked human figures must be based, according to Winckelmann, on the ideals of Greek art with its fixed proportions for beauty. Repressive social conventions are rejected. Canova's conception of nudity in one of his major works, Paolina Borghese, reflects the tradition of ancient Rome, portraying a mortal as a goddess. It's still debated whether Napoleon's sister really posed nude as a model.
4. Bernini's Rape of Proserpina
Borghese Gallery.

5. Canova's Paolina Bonaparte
Borghese Gallery.

Jan 18, 2015

5 Historic Cafes in Rome.


1.Caffé Greco.  Opened in 1760 (Via dei Condotti). The most ancient in Rome and the second in Italy, preceded only by Caffé Florian in Venice (1720). So called for its first owner, Nicola della Maddalena, a Greek man.  A meeting place for intellectuals: Stendhal, Goethe, Byron, Keats, Ibsen, Wagner, Casanova, have all been here.  A Caffé celebrated in sketches and paintings which still decorate its walls forming a huge private art gallery with more than 300 works. And if lucky enough you can bump into Stellario Baccellieri known worldwide as 'the painter of the Caffé Greco': he portrayed celebs like De Chirico, Liz Taylor, Gina Lollobrigida and Lady Diana.

2.Babington's English Tea Room (by the Spanish Steps).  Founded in 1893 by Isabel Cargill and Anne Marie Babington. At the time tea could be found only in pharmacies. 19th century style interiors. It survived two world wars and the opening of a Macdonald's nearby!

3 & 4. Caffè Rosati and Caffé Canova in Piazza del Popolo. The Caffè Rosati was the pastry shop of the Italian Royal family. In the 50s it served coffee to Pasolini and Elsa Morante.  The Caffè Canova was popular among Via Margutta artists. An interesting art gallery is dedicated to Fellini who daily visited the bar for his espresso fix.

5. Caffé Canova Tadolini located in the workshop of Neoclassical sculptor Canova and his pupil Tadolini. Have a drink or lunch among sculptures and casts, dark hardwood floors, chandeliers and vintage furniture.