A trip to Roma is better than home-a. . .Musei Vaticani

To get a look at a roughly 400 year old set of sketches by Bernini has to make a trip to the Vatican the real Magic Kingdom! Straw armature and all, give a wonderful insight into the most flamboyant Roman sculptor of them all. Forget the lines, forget the crowds. If you love this sort of thing, the Vatican tops a day at the Met in NY, or even an afternoon stroll through the Louvre. And this time, I only saw a certain chunk of it. On those lists of 10 things to see in your lifetime, all jokes aside, the Vatican Museum should be one of them.

Not priggish at all to the shutterbug, like the Prado, the Rijksmuseum or the van Gogh Museum, it is a wonderful day to look, and then resee later. Overwhelming and wonderful, the collection is the premier Whitman sampler of painting, sculpture, architecture, etc. The cherry in the center being Michelangelo and the accompanying works in the Sistine Chapel. Get a load of the wonderful Perugino’s Christ Delivery of the Keys to St. Peter on your way to understand the maestro’s wonderful student upstairs.

Visualizing that famous student: Stanze di Raffaella

A wonderful irony occurs as you go through those wonderful rooms, and one wonders if Raphael had the sense of humor to see how the hoards visiting his rooms would become part of the images. When one see what the masters had to actually had to put up with cacabash architectural embellishments.

When I was 19 or so, I found a copy of School of Athens somewhere mounted on an illustration board. I brought it home and put it up in my room and looked at it about a million times. And again, I was able to enjoy the real things dodging the heads of a kizillion other people. One watches how Raphael following his maestro, takes the medieval formula of compacted figures (learned from the Romans) and with a few carefully placed arches (and that corkscrew pose of Michelangelo) shoots open the space Leonardo could never quite get in the Last Supper.

Pinturicchio Borgia Apartments, Hall of the Mysteries of the Faith

This time I was lucky enough to get to see Pinturicchio’s Borgia Apartments, and so another Tuscan helps shape the art of Catholic Rome, as well as, shaping Raphael. The ceramic floor was so worn, I have never seen anything like it. The sad part, no one really bothered as they rushed to the Sistine Chapel. So one  guard stood around cursing so much (the other guard caught my knowing smile), that even my father (who sang these slogans often, especially the one about going to Naples) might have even looked up!

The beautiful gallery of maps is also wonderful. Ornate as it can be, the attempt at partitioning pre-Republic regions of Italy is quite wonderful. A little much with the gilded ceilings and lots of ornate flourishes, it is provoking and the crowds loved it.

You can catch the same pope, done by Velasquez or redone a few hundred years later by Bacon in the modern wing. You will also find later religious Dalis and de Chiricos, Shahn, Chagall and even a Jacob Lawrence. The only thing missing is women painters, as I think of it now. I could be wrong because near the Borgia Apartments there was a big selection of Italian artists.

If you get bored the scenery is always wonderful.

Young Spaniards setting for a shot on the bottom of the spiral staircase

You can always leave and go next door. If you go late you may not find a rock star, but someone some might think is.


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2 Responses to “A trip to Roma is better than home-a. . .Musei Vaticani”

  1. Ed B Says:

    Thanks for the photos and commentary … hope I get to return there one day !!

  2. Enfin, Paris!: A thousand years later. . . « Thinkvisual's Blog Says:

    […] it harder for me to find things. But ooh la lah, what a wonderful collection. Like the Vatican (https://thinkvisual.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/a-trip-to-roma-is-better-than-home-a-musei-vaticani/ ) , it is a place you must […]

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