THE TRIUMPH OF RENAISSANCE: THE IMPRESSIVE REGAL ROOM AND DUCAL ROOM / INSIDE THE VATICAN PALACES #3

© Roberto Alborghetti - Sala Regia and Sala Ducale (12)

Sala Regia (Regal Room) and Sala Ducale (Ducal Room) are two beautiful rooms in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. They aren’t generally open to visitors: they usually host consistories, conferences, papal hearings or special events. I recently had the opportunity to visit them (I was in Rome to meet Pope Francis for the presentation of “Francis”, the illustrated and historical biography I wrote about him). Here some news (from New Advent website) about Sala Regia and Sala Ducale. They well represent the triumph of Renaissance.  

The Sala Regia (Regal Room)

 Although not intended as such, this broad room is really an antechamber to the Sistine Chapel, reached by the Scala Regia (Royal Staircase). To the left of the entrance formerly stood the papal throne, which is now at the opposite side before the door leading to the Cappella Paolina. The hall was begun under Paul III by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and was completed in 1573. The elegant barrel-vault is provided with the highly graceful and very impressive plaster decorations of Pierin del Vaga. The stucco ornaments over the doors are by Daniele da Volterra. The longitudinal walls are broken on the one side by two, and on the other by three, large doors, between which Giorgio Vasari and Taddeo Zuccaro have introduced very powerful frescoes, whose effect is more than ornamental. They depict momentous turning-points in the life of the Church, among others the return of Gregory XI from Avignon to Rome, the battle of Lepanto, the raising of the ban from Henry IV, and the reconciliation of Alexander III with Frederick Barbarossa. This hall served originally for the reception of princes and royal ambassadors. Today the consistories are held in it, and an occasional musical recital in the presence of the Pope; during a conclave it is a favourite promenade for the cardinals.

The Sala Ducale (Ducal Room)

The Sala Ducale lies between the Sala Regia and the Loggia of Giovanni da Udine. Formerly there were here two separate halls, which were converted into one by Bernini by the removal of the separating wall (the position of which is still clearly perceptible). The decorative paintings, which are of a purely ornamental nature, are by Raffaellino da Reggio, Sabbatini, and Matthæus Brill. In this impressive hall were formerly held the public consistories for the reception of ruling princes. It now serves occasionally for the reception of pilgrims, the consecration of bishops, when (as rarely happens) this is undertaken by the Pope, or is used for the accommodation of specified divisions of the papal household, when the pope holds a consistory in the Sala Regia, proceeds to the Sistine Chapel, or sets out with great solemnity for St. Peter’s.

(3 – To be continued)

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(HE)ART PLACES / FROM MALATESTA TEMPLE TO AUGUSTUS BRIDGE AND ARCH: GREAT MONUMENTS IN RIMINI (ITALY)

 © Photos: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI ; Tiberius (or Augustus) Bridge photo is from Wikipedia (free use).

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Rimini is the capital city of Italian vacations. It is located on the Northern coast on the Adriatic Sea. It is approximately 110kms southeast of Bologna, about three hours South of Venice and also three hours North of Rome. It is mostly a place where Italians go on vacation but also British, German, French and Russian tourists love to go there. But in Rimini – the city of the great Fellini! – visitors find some spectacular monuments: the Malatesta Temple (Tempio Malatestiano), the Arch of Augustus and the Bridge of Tiberius or Augustus.  

The Malatesta Temple – as Luigi Orsini writes in his book “The Malatesta Temple” (Bonomi Editore, Milano) – is perhaps “the only monument in the world of which it can be said that it lifted an architect to the heights of glory, immortalized the power of a potentate, and made vivid through the ages a woman’s smile. That edifice which Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta entrusted to Alberti’s genius for the perpetual exaltation and honour of the divine Isotta degli Atti, his mistress and consort, comprises in itself, the sweetest harmonies of art and sentiment, exquisite line and colour, subtle forms of mysticism, passion’s potent spell, in a perpetual union of real and ideal, of energy and dream, of mind and matter”.

The Tempio Malatestiano is the cathedral church of Rimini. Officially named for St. Francis, it takes the popular name from Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, who commissioned its reconstruction by the famous Renaissance theorist and architect Leon Battista Alberti around 1450. St. Francis was originally a thirteenth-century Gothic church belonging to the Franciscans. The original church had a rectangular plan, without side chapels, with a single nave ending with three apses. The central one was probably frescoed by Giotto, to whom is also attributed the crucifix now housed in the second right chapel.

Malatesta called on Alberti to transform the building and make it into a kind of personal mausoleum for him and his lover and later his wife, Isotta degli Atti. The execution of the project was handed over to the Veronese Matteo di Andrea de’ Pasti, hired at the Estense court. Marble for the work was taken from the Roman ruins in Sant’Apollinare in Classe (near Ravenna) and in Fano. The Temple is immediately recognizable from its wide marble façade, decorated by sculptures probably made by Agostino di Duccio and Matteo de’ Pasti. Alberti aspired to renew the Roman structures of Antiquity, though here his inspiration was drawn from the triumphal arch, in which his main inspiration was the tripartite Arch of Constantine in Rome. The entrance portal has a triangular pediment over the door set within the center arch; geometrical decorations fill the tympanum. Due to the strong presence of elements referring to the Malatesta’s history, and to Sigismondo Pandolfo himself (in particular, his lover Isotta), the church was considered by some contemporaries to be an exaltation of Paganism.

Not so far from the Temple, located in the centre of the city, we admire the amazing Arch of Augustus (Arco d’Augusto), an Ancient Roman monument constructed in 27 BC for the Rome’s first emperor. Thought to have been the gateway to Ancient Rimini which would have formed part of the city walls, the Arch of Augustus is a fairly ornate structure depicting various deities such as Neptune, Apollo and Jupiter.

Outside the city centre, looking towards Bologna, on the old Consular road, the Via Emilia, we find the Bridge of Tiberius or Augustus, so-called through being constructed on the decree of Augustus, although afterwards finished by Tiberius (from 14 to ai A. D.). It is of white travertine, of the Doric order, and is composed of five great arches, of which the central one measures 10.50 metres in diameter and the others, 8.75 metres. The piles are laid obliquely in order to second the current without interfering with the Via Emilia, which passes above. The last arch, towards the town, was broken by the Goths in 552 to prevent the crossing of Narsete. It was restored in 1680 on the order of Innocent XI by Agostino Martinelli of Ferrara.

(HE)ART PLACES / THE WONDERFUL BYZANTINE BASILICA OF SANT’APOLLINARE IN RAVENNA (ITALY) SHOWING MOSAIC DECORATIONS DATED TO THE 6th CENTURY

© Photos: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

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Some weeks ago I had the pleasure to visit again the enchanting Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare in Classe a few kilometers from the beautiful Ravenna. Sant’Apollinare is one of the most important monuments of Byzantine art.  When the UNESCO inscribed eight Ravenna sites on the World Heritage List, it cited this basilica as “an outstanding example of the early Christian basilica in its purity and simplicity of its design and use of space and in the sumptuous nature of its decoration”.

It was erected at the beginning of 6th century by order of Bishop Ursicinus. It was certainly located next to a Christian cemetery, and quite possibly on top of a pre-existing pagan one. The Basilica was consecrated on May 9, 549 by Bishop Maximian and dedicated to Saint Apollinaris, first bishop of Ravenna and Classe. The exterior has a large façade with two simple uprights and one mullioned window with three openings. The narthex and building to the right of the entry are later additions. The  round bell tower with mullioned windows was built in the IX Century.

The church has a nave and two aisles. An ancient altar in the mid of the nave covers the place of the saint’s martyrdom. The church ends with a polygonal apse, sided by two chapels with apses. In the naive we admire  24 columns of Greek marble with carved capitals. The faded frescos portraits some of the archbishops of Ravenna.

The mosaic decorations in the apse and on the triumphal arch are the most striking features of Sant’Apollinare in Classe. Inside a medallion, in the  upper section of the triumphal arch, we see Christ. At the sides, the winged symbols of the four Evangelists: the Eagle (John), the Winged Man (Matthew), the Lion (Mark), the Calf (Luke). The lower section shows precious gems from which twelve lambs (symbols of the Twelve Apostles) exit. The sides of the arch show two palms (they represent justice), the archangels Michael and Gabriel, the bust of St. Matthew and another unidentified saint. The decoration of the apse date to the 6th century. The Basilica’s walls are lined by numerous sarcophagi from different centuries.

GIO’ POMODORO: THE PATH OF A GREAT SCULPTOR

 Monferrato area (Italy): events and shows to celebrate the great master of international sculpture

 

” Gio Pomodoro, The path of a sculptor: 1954-2001″ is the theme of one of the most important exhibitions devoted to the celebrated Italian sculptor. The show opened on December 7, in Alessandria (Piemonte, Italy) and it will continue in the enchanting Monferrato area. Villas, Palaces and Museums will become a sort of network by which people may approach the works of the great master of international sculpture. The events started in Alessandria and they’ll also reach Acqui Terme, Novi Ligure, Valenza, Tortona and Casale Monferrato.

During the great show, which involves nine venues, will be exhibited 173 works, offering a trip back in cognitive poetics and aesthetics of the monumental and magnificent works of Gio’ Pomodoro, whose intellectual roots, mathematics and philosophy, have been recognized and appreciated throughout the world. The event is sponsored by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio in Alessandria and by public institution of the Monferrato area. The exhibition is curated by Marco Meneguzzo and Giuliana Godio. In Alessandria, at Palazzo del Monferrato – a rare example of a blend of Baroque and Expressionism – are exhibited, as well as the monumental work “Grande Ghibellina”, 12 bronze, stone and marble sculptures, and a major series of watercolors. Palazzo Guasco Carlo Carra Gallery is hosting 5 bronze and stone sculptures and a series of designs on paper.

At Palazzo Cuttica, now the Civic Museum, are presented small and medium-size sculptures as well as the monumental work “Sole deposto”, that is installed at the entrance of the building. In the courtyard of the Paris Chamber of Commerce is featured another monumental bronze sculpture: “Colloqui con il figlio”. The event is a sort of a great museum spread on Alessandria land. The exhibition is showing Gio’ Pomodoro ‘s genius in sculpture, paintings, watercolors, and jewels. Marco Meneguzzo, events curator, says that Gio’ Pomodoro has been always moved between the absolutes that define the “human” category : the space and history. The events will end in April 30, 2011.

 

ART AND DESIGN FOR DAILY LIFE

Visit to the beautiful Showrooms of SRS and Bulwark Design (in Fiorano Modenese, Modena, Italy) founded by Corrado Fontanini. Marble, ceramic and wood under the sign of creativity.

 

 Ceramics drawings. Marbles with an incredible range of designs. Resins that seem to come alive. Artistic wood planks. Ladies and gentlemen, Welcome to the world in which daily materials and objects become art. At Fiorano Modenese (Modena), in the heart of the worldwide recognized Ceramics District, we have the way to visit SRS factory, nearly 35 years of activity in the field of screen printing, founded by Corrado Fontanini. In a series of three beautiful showrooms, the visitors – and of course the buyers – are able to make a journey in creativity, approaching that hard work that has made Italy great in the world.

It’ s a real feast for eyes and mind to see, in these showrooms, the most recent productions of SRS, global provider of silicon etched designs and rollers. The same halls – so stylish and well set up – are true art exhibitions, where you can see the latest SRS production. Slabs of marble, wooden planks and ceramic tiles and panels – designed and manufactured for each type of environment, for domestic dwellings, offices, studios and halls – are offered in the beauty of shapes and materials, becoming objects and art expression. Here you have the perception how everyday objects and materials may make more beautiful and comfortable our life.

 

The SRS Showrooms are truly the charming and engaging emblem of what the company set up by Corrado Fontanini is expressing in the research and production. Based also in Brazil, Spain, Mexico, Iran and Egypt, SRS works with a team of designers, using the latest technology (I saw a giant scanner to work large format materials) producing true artworks. And no wonder if people from all over the world, visiting showrooms in Fiorano Modenese, open their eyes and feel amazed.

The surprise continues visiting Bulwark Design, the SRS brand specialized in resin manufacture. Bulward projects and carries out a line of products that really change the look to floors, rooms, objects and different spaces. Simona Malagoli, Bulwark Area Manager, says me that the core of Fiorano companys is to make beautiful and artistic all what in which we live in.

The fields of application are endless. Bulwark is an award-winning design, which matches the traditional materials (stone, marble, wood, glass and so on) with art, fashion and aesthetics values, as showed by Oscar and Beppe, artists-decorators. Bulwark Design is research too: Lorenzo, engineer, is now working on pigments and colors. The desire for innovation and creativity suggested to Corrado Fontanini – he also showed me a small part of his extraordinary collection of photos from places around the world – to create an art gallery, that ‘ll be established beside SRS factory in Fiorano Modenese. It’s a challenge that ‘ll open a new “perspective” on the contemporary art. Lovers of beauty and “the next things” are warned!

 By Roberto Alborghetti

 In the pics: the SRS showrooms in Fiorano Modenese (Modena, Italy) and Corrado Fontanini.

 

ARTE E DESIGN PER LA VITA QUOTIDIANA

Visita ai bellissimi Showroms della SRS e di Bulwark Design a Fiorano Modenese (Modena), fondati da Corrado Fontanini. Marmo, ceramica, legno prendono vita e nel segno della creatività.

 

 

Ceramiche disegnate. Marmi che presentano una gamma incredibile di disegni. Resine che sembrano prendere vita. Tavole di legno lavorate. Signore e signori, Benvenuti nel mondo del lavoro quotidiano che diventa arte. A Fiorano Modenese (Modena), nel cuore del Distretto della Ceramica mondialmente riconosciuto, opera la SRS: quasi 35 anni di attività nel campo della serigrafia, fondata da Corrado Fontanini. In una serie di tre bellissimi Showrooms, il visitore – ed ovviamente il compratore – hanno la possibilità di compiere un viaggio nella creatività e nella laboriosità che ha reso l’Italia grande nel mondo.

E’ un vero piacere per gli occhi e per la mente ammirare, in queste sale, le produzioni più recenti di SRS, che è leader nella fornitura di disegni e rulli siliconici incisi. Le stesse sale, per il gusto e lo stile con cui sono state allestite, sono vere e poprie esposizioni di arte, dove è possibile ammirare le più recenti novità. Lastre di marmo, tavole di legno e pannelli di ceramica – ideati e realizzati per ogni tipo di ambiente, per le abitazioni domestiche come per le sedi di uffici, studi e società – si offrono nella bellezza delle lavorazioni e delle forme, diventando oggetti ed espressione di quella che è l’arte, appunto, del quotidiano, degli oggetti e dei materiali che fanno bella e confortevole il nostro contesto di vita.

Gli Shoroom di SRS sono davvero l’emblema, suggestivo ed esteticamente coinvolgente, di ciò che la società creata da Corrado Fontanini sta esprimendo nella ricerca e nella produzione. Presente in Brasile (con tre sedi, da più di vent’anni), Spagna, Messico, Iran ed Egitto, SRS opera con una equipe di designer che, con l’utilizzo delle più avanzate tecnologie – abbiamo visto un mega scanner che fa meraviglie nel “lavorare” la materia su grande formato – produce vere e proprie opere d’arte. E non c’è da stupirsi dunque se gente da tutto il mondo, visitando gli showrooms di Fiorano Modenese, spalanca gli occhi e si lascia andare ad espressioni di meraviglia.

La sorpresa continua anche nell’avvicinare l’attività di Bulwark design – il brand di SRS specializzato nella lavorazione delle resine – dove è studiata e realizzata una linea di prodotti che cambiano davvero l’immagine a pavimenti, rivestimenti, oggetti e complementi d’arredo, riempiendo di unicità gli spazi del proprio vivere, da quelli domestici a quelli di lavoro. Come sottolinea Simona Malagoli, Area Manager di Bulwark, il cuore dell’attività dell’azienda di Fiorano è rendere bello ed artistico gli ambienti che abitiamo.

I campi di applicazione sono infiniti. E Bulwark è un design vincente, che sa coniugare la tradizione dei materiali (pietra, marmi, legno, vetro e cosi via) con l’efficacia del linguaggio dell’arte e dell’estetica più raffinata, come è dimostrato dai lavori eseguiti da Beppe ed Oscar, decoratori e veri artisti. E senza dimenticare la ricerca: Lorenzo, ingegnere, sta ad esempio lavorando sui pigmenti e le loro reazioni ai colori. La voglia di innovazione e l’estro di Corrado Fontanini – che mi ha pure mostrato una minima parte della sua straordinaria collezione di fotografie da tutto il mondo – lo hanno spinto alla creazione di una galleria d’arte, che verrà presto creata nel complesso della SRS di Fiorano Modenese. Una sfida che aprirà un nuovo “punto di vista” sulle espressioni artistiche della contemporaneità. Amanti del bello e del nuovo, siete avvertiti.

 

Roberto Alborghetti