Exhibition in San Marino of works from Vatican Museums

An exhibition entitled "the Man, the Face, the Mystery" was presented this morning in the Vatican Museums.
by . | Source: VIS
VATICAN CITY, 14 JUL 2011

 The exhibition is due to be inaugurated in the State Museum of the Republic of San Marino on 20 August. Participating in today's presentation were Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums; Romeo Morri, secretary for culture and education of the Republic of San Marino; Sante Carlucci, ambassador of the Republic of San Marino to the Holy See, and Giovanni Gentili, an art historian and curator of the exhibition.
 

The works on display in the exhibition, which was organised in the light of the Holy Father's recent visit to San Marino, all come from the Vatican Museums. They "document how artists (from Greeks to Romans and moderns) have represented the facial features of men and women in an attempt to portray the soul which, together with the countenance, makes up the identity of each individual". According to a communique released today, such attempts were characterised in portraiture "by the imitation of models - either gods or heroes of the classical age - until that crucial moment of history when the 'model' par excellence appeared. With His face Christ revealed the face of the Father, God the Creator, and since then man's history, also as documented in the figurative arts, has been played out in the acceptance or rejection of that fact".

  The Vatican Museums' Department of Classical Antiquities has provided a number of masterpieces such as the famous "head of Athena", an original Greek work from the fifth century BC; the "bust of Antinous" from Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, and the "portrait of Claudia Semne in the guise of Venus". Other pieces have come from the Department of Etruscan-Italic Antiquities (two extraordinary terracotta heads, one masculine and one feminine), from the Department of Paleochristian Art (the rare fourth century mosaic "portraits of Flavius Julianus and his wife Simplicia Rustica"), and from the Department of Oriental Antiquities (the "portrait of a woman from Palmyra" formerly in the collection of art critic Federico Zeri).

  Other depictions of man in the classical age have been provided by the Department of Decorative Arts, including the "bust of Trajan" and the "portraits of Peter and Paul". The latter date from the fifth century and are considered to be among the oldest of their kind in the world. A large number of the works on display in the exhibition come from the Department of Mediaeval Art; they include the twelfth-century painting of "Christ delivering a blessing" and the mosaic "portrait of St. Luke", which decorated the facade of the Vatican Basilica in the Middle Ages. Among the paintings and sculptures from the modern age are various works by Guercino and Guido Reni, as well as the "portrait of a man" by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

  The last section of the exhibition is dedicated to the "Holy Face". It includes a seventeenth-century copy of the image of "Christ acheiropoieta" from the Lateran (the original being impossible to move); the famous veil of the "Veronica" from the Pontifical Sacristy, normally inaccessible to the public and the only surviving reproduction of that venerated relic which was held in the Vatican but lost in the Sack of Rome in 1527, and the "Sainte Face" by George Rouault. The exhibition ends with works by a number of twentieth-century artists including Fausto Pirandello, Francesco Messina and Graham Sutherland.


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