At the Table with the Gods. Illustrated Plates from the Carpegna Collections

July 4th, 2018
Sala XVII, Pinacoteca

Following the culmination of the Metal Restoration Laboratory and the Vatican Museums Ceramics Department’s careful restoration work, a precious set of illustrated ceramic plates from the Carpegna Collection can be admired before it soon joins a permanent collection. This special exhibit will open for the summer season on July 4th and will be located in the prestigious Vatican Pinacoteca in Room XVII, which has hosted the prior original initiatives of the Museums at Work expositions.

This “little exhibit,” titled At the Table with the Gods. Illustrated Plates from the Carpegna Collection, is curated by Guido Cornini and is based on a previously successful format, established through The Pope’s Museums. The exposition also serves as a lively workshop for study and research, aiming to communicate and enhance the knowledge and the many daily activities within the Museums. Among the pieces in the collection, are thirty-three out of thirty-four illustrated majolica ceramics, which joined the Decorative Arts Department of the Vatican Museums in 1999 from the old collections of the Apostolic Library.

This set of historically and artistically valuable artifacts were made in the late sixteenth century by the skilled majolica masters of Urbino based on designs by painters from the school of Raphael. Although they are some of the most fascinating seventeenth-century collectibles, they constitute one of the least noted chapters.

Four large thematic groups can be identified in the designs and decorations that characterize the precious set of ceramics. They range from biblically inspired scenes, portraying stories from the Old Testament and the Gospels, to mythological depictions, treating both literary and allegorical topics.

The Carpegna plates collection display is a project sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Carey of the California Chapter 

The Patrons Office Welcomes Three Summer Interns

For the next three months, our office will host three interns to assist us during the busy summer season. Each of the interns has been assigned a project reflecting their interests and will receive guidance from the staff member they are working with most closely. They will all have the opportunity to engage with the vast collections of the Vatican museums, and grow professionally and spiritually in their positions.

Harriet Fink, Catherine Johnson and Zoe Romanoski

Zoe Romanoski is originally from Tucson, Arizona and recently graduated from the University of Notre Dame this past May of 2018. She has a double major in I.T. Analytics & Operations, and Art History, which she hopes will be instrumental to her internship as she works to create a comprehensive database for PAVM. Zoe could not be happier to be back in Rome, having studied abroad here for the spring semester of 2017, and developed a fervent admiration of Italian language, food, music, and art. This summer, Zoe is most looking forward to observing how the Vatican Museums operate from a business perspective, especially regarding the role of the patrons in preserving the Vatican’s timeless masterpieces.

“Thus far the PAVM internship has been nothing short of astonishing- we enter our place of work through the colonnade arms of St. Peter’s and I can’t help but gape at Bernini’s immense accomplishment. Everyday mundane tasks are turned extraordinary as us interns run errands through the Apostolic Palace, or across the Vatican Gardens. It is truly evident that we are amidst some of the greatest minds the world ever knew. I love noting the Barberini bees of Pope Urban VIII on my favorite artworks, and having the opportunity to explore previous restoration projects with my fellow interns. Each day is better than the last, and I cannot wait to see what else the internship has in store for us!”

Catie Johnson is from Atlanta, Georgia and will complete her final year at Auburn University in the fall. At Auburn, she is majoring in marketing with a minor in nonprofit and philanthropy. Catie plans to attend graduate school after graduation and following graduate school, she hopes to obtain a job working for a nonprofit organization. Catie is extremely excited to implement not only her marketing skills, but also her knowledge of nonprofit organizations during this summer internship. While she has been to Rome many times with her family, Catie has never been able to explore Rome by herself and for such a length of time. She could not be more excited to be in one of her favorite cities doing something that she truly has a passion for!

“I was extremely excited to walk into work on the first day but really did not know what to expect. I was blown away with the joy and kindness that all of the employees have not only for their work, but also each other. When you walk into this office it is very clear that all of these women (and Fr. Kevin) have so much passion for the PAVM and all of the people that work for the organization. The other two interns, Zoe and Harriet, and I have had the best first week and I am so excited to see all of the things that we will be able to experience and learn for the next month and a half. Just being able to skip the tour lines was crazy for me…and that is only the beginning!”

Harriet Fink, a Washington D.C. native, will be starting her senior year at the University of Notre Dame in late August. In South Bend, she studies Philosophy and Medieval Studies. She spent the previous semester at the University of Bologna and hopes to continue improving her Italian. Harriet is looking forward to living in a new city and exploring all of the incredible collections at the Vatican Museums. This summer she will be helping our office compile restoration information about past Wishbook projects for an updated website as well as complete some translation work.

“Every morning my walk to work is a completely surreal experience as I bypass the interwoven lines of thousands of tourists waiting to enter the museums. It has been a fantastic experience so far to meet Patrons coming from all over the world and even tag along on some of their tours. I really appreciate the chance to work in an office that genuinely cares about its interns. The other interns and I are all very excited to be working on projects that are tailored to our interests as well as have the opportunity to see how the museums function from an insider’s perspective. It’s truly a humbling experience to not be able to look around without seeing beautiful art or architecture. At the end of each day, I descend Giuseppe Momo’s spiral staircase, which depicts the hundreds of years of history of the museums, thinking about how grateful I am to intern here. This will certainly be a formative experience for me, and I know it’s going to be difficult to leave at the end of the summer!”

We are happy to welcome our three interns and hope that if you have a chance to visit our office in Rome this summer, you can come by and introduce yourself!

THE SOUND OF ART

The Office of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums was pleased to host a group of patients from the Bambino Gesù Hospital, a children’s hospital located in Rome under the administration of the Holy See. Our guests, ranging in ages from 3 to 10, gathered in the Vatican Museums with their siblings and parents for a day of summer camp fun. The Vatican in collaboration with the hospital aimed to provide a day of reprieve for these children who suffered from some form of disability, particularly regarding visual impairments. The children were able to participate in activities that largely incorporated sensory stimulation. They gathered leaves and sticks in the Vatican Gardens, physically interacted with statues and busts in the Museo Gregoriano Profano, and even took a “magic carpet” ride—a mechanism that radiated vibrations from music so those hearing-impaired guests could dance along. Our interns had the opportunity to observe as the children played with sound effects of a dinner party. The children erupted into giggles and clapping as the sounds mimicked a kiss, a breaking plate, and even a burp! Soon after, it was revealed the relevance of the sounds was in connection to the floor mosaic below their very feet, the “Asàrotos òikos” mosaic that is scattered with images of a dirty floor left over in an ancient banquet hall. Through the cohesion of various sensory activities (sight, touch, and sound) that are integral to the experience of artifacts in the Vatican Museums, we hope that the children were able to gain an appreciation for that which is housed within our walls.

Project sponsored by the Italian and International Chapter of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, Robyn & Kingsley Mundey and organized by Doctor Isabella Salandri – Public Relations Officer of the Vatican Museums.

 

 

CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH VATICAN’S TREASURES IN MEXICO

June 20th to October 28th, 2018

Vatican City State

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Mexico, San Ildefonso College of Mexico City(l’Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso) will host the exhibit, “Vatican: from Saint Peter to Francis. Two Thousand Years of Art and History” (“Vaticano: de San Pedro a Francisco. Dos mil años de arte e historia”), from June 20th to October 28th, 2018.  The exposition is organized by the Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani) in collaboration with the Factory of Saint Peter (Fabbrica di San Pietro), the Vatican Apostolic Library (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana) and the Pontifical Sacristy(Sacrestia Pontificia). More than 180 works from the Vatican Collections will be shown in the Mexican capital- of these, 30 masterpieces from the Pope’s paintings gallery (Pinacoteca del Papa) by artists including Titian, Raphael, Veronese, Bernini, Guido Reni, Melozzo da Forlì, and Barocci. The public will have the opportunity to retrace the origins and traditions of the Roman Church through these artistic creations that testify to the enduring faith and devotion of the last 2000 years of history.

The triple Pontifical Tiara of Pope Leo XIII and the Lateran Custody from the Basilica of St. John Lateran’s treasury are also among the “treasures” that will arrive in the ancient lands of the Aztecs.

The exhibition is co-curated by Adele Breda, Pietro Zander, Sandro Barbagallo and Alessanndra Rodolfo.

FRAGMENT OF A SARCOPHAGUS

Miracles happen every day. 

Each of the seven days of creation bears within it a multiplicity of miracles. At the center of it all, lies the remarkably complex creation of man himself—the receiver of God’s affectionate love and His most amazing miracle to boot. Though the relationship was sacrificed by the disobedience of Adam and Eve, God continues to unceasingly draw every man to Himself, and the promise of His Covenant with His people can never be severed. God’s covenantal love, or sacred family bond, is inherent within each biblical family.  God reveals to Noah that the covenant reaches beyond the family nucleus and “ is with [Noah] and with all his descendants after” (Genesis 9:9). Though others would not find favor with God and be swept away in the massive flood, Noah’s family mission is steadfast in guarding and communicating love. The beginning of this perpetual covenantal story (which still, of course, continues today) is documented not only in the Bible, but makes its way into various early Christian artworks.  Interest in the figurative and visual arts of early Christianity reached its height in the 16th century, during the Catholic response to the Reformation.Knowledge of early Church and her works became key.

In the 18th century, Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758) successfully organized a “Christian Museum” in the Vatican, housing those works that give us a glimpse in to the culture and faith of the the first Christian communities in Rome. Established in 1852 under the papacy of Pius IX (1846-1870), the Commission for Sacred Archaeology insured the utmost protection for these rich archaeological pieces of Christian heritage. Two years later, in an effort to save precious pieces that were unearthed, Pius IX transferred the artifacts to the Lateran Palace in a collection he called “Pius.”  In 1963 the collection of Christian patrimony was moved to the Vatican, and became permanent residents of the “Pius Christian Museum.”  Every visitor upon entering the Museums can turn a corner and listen to the testimonies of Christian families and martyrs from the 2nd to 4th centuries, etched in the stone sarcophagi in this collection. This frontal sarcophagus piece is one of many that bears witness to the precious Christian artifacts, as the precious covenantal bond of God with His people is carved into them.  Here, Noah is seen sending out a dove to determine if, after forty days in the ark, the flood waters had subsided. The dove touches the head of another figure, perhaps one of Noah’s sons, who carries a bastion that leads the eye into the next scene.  Three youths, refusing to worship false deities, sing the praises of the one true God after thrown in the fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar.  Lifting up their hands in prayer, they sing of their transgressions and the miracle of still being showered in God’s mercy.  They are unconsumed by the flames.  Noah’s family is spared from the flood. One miracle flows directly into another. 

The images decorate the tombs of the faithful who bore witness to the miracles of God in their own lives and next miracle? It is how the Vatican restorers brought this piece of heritage and faith back to life. The sarcophagus is a relief sculpture piece that had undergone maintenance, restorations and perhaps reworked interventions over time. During the preliminary “autopsy” of the work, certain findings helped determine the present state of intervention and “readability” of the piece. There was evidence of coherent deposits and stains, either from exposure to less than desirable conditions, or from the hand of a previous attempt at fixing the piece. Wax or paints were used to cover damages, and these exhibited deposits resultantly compromised the integrity of the carved surface. Generally the surfaces of sarcophagi often show widespread scratches and exfoliation phenomena. In the case of areas where dirt and deposits are more heavily encrusted, thus hindering the piece’s aesthetic integrity, the restorers have to remove these deposits using diversified laser technology.  Oftentimes, Japanese rice paper will be affixed to the surface with a paste made from natural ingredients, which serves to stabilize the rest of the work while the area that is being tackled undergoes some “bumps and bruises” during the restoration process. 

An indispensable part of the procedure involved cleaning the stone surfaces while maintaining scrupulous attention to individual elements and adherence to the pre-restoration analysis performed with the help of the Diagnostic Survey Laboratory.  Great care was always taken in preserving and analyzing traces of polychrome and coatings, and special uses of material such as agar allowed for controlled, careful cleaning. At first glance, one sees a piece of stone.  A second look allows one to read through the miracles of the Bible on its surface. In these scenes is the promise of God’s never-ending, miraculous love for all His people. And the generosity of some of these people ensures that millions more can appreciate this piece of stone. Miracles do happen every day… especially when you are one of them. 

Spend a Sunday at the Villas of Castel Gandolfo!

April – October 2018

From April to October, with the exception of the months of July and August, the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo will welcome visitors also on a Sunday. With the arrival of the warmer season, the special Sunday opening (from 10.00 a.m. to 15.00 p.m. with last entry at 14.00 p.m.) offers a unique opportunity to organize an out of town trip with all the family, and to be immersed in artistic treasures, beautiful landscapes and the food and wine of the Castelli Romani.