Tag Archives: Rome

nepotism and tapestries: Pope Urban VIII

Am I the only person who thinks that nepotism and tapestries sounds like an album name?

Maybe not. But still, they are the source of my interest in Pope Urban VIII. That’s right, folks, I have chosen my first research topic of the year (unless you count the research paper about Frank Churchill’s use of Latin derived words in Emma that I’ve been dying to write forever). The topic: The Barberini Tapestry Cycle and the Self and Familial Editing of Papal History in Roman Baroque Art.

The Barberini Tapestry Cycle is a self of three tapestries that depict the lives of three important Christian figures: Constantine, Jesus Christ and Pope Urban VIII. The first seven tapestries of Constantine were designed by Peter Paul Rubens for the House of Bourbon and then later given to Cardinal Francisco Barberini during a visit to France. Pietro da Cortona completed the Constantine cycle, replacing the French coat of arms with that of the Barberini Family.

The last two cycles, of Christ’s and Pope Urban’s lives, were completely Italian made. The choices of which Christ episodes were depicted were heavy on the Papal imagery, and Pope Urban’s life is shown as one of an intellectual pope who has brought relics to Rome.

Thing about Pope Urban VIII: not that great of a pope. He really liked Bernini and da Cortona and he really liked making his nephews Cardinals.

So I am looking at the iconography/events/spectacles represented in the Italian made tapestries to see how Urban VIII and his nephews edited the story of the Barberini pope, directly within the cycle of his life and indirectly with that of Constantine and Christ.

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crushin on the caravaggio

In the art world, just like fashion, there are trends. But I think in fashion, the trends come and when they come back they are “retro.” But in art, sometimes things aren’t in vogue from the time they are created to four hundred years later. Well, Caravaggio is hot hot hot right now. And I have jumped, leaped and galloped onto the bandwagon. There are few contributing factors to Caravaggio’s recent renaissance.

I have this weird thing for Judith paintings.

July 18, 2010 was the 400th anniversary of his death. And Romans love anniversaries!

He only  has about eighty paintings that are confirmed by him. And then there are all these other copies or originals that we just don’t know. Because Caravaggio worked on commission, he sometimes painted similar subjects multiple times, just in different sizes for different prices.

Sometimes one of the copies all of the is confirmed by art historians as a real Caravaggio and basically everyone freaks out. They even wrote a book about one, The Lost Painting which I highly recommend.

The real zinger though of my crush on Caravaggio is that it may be persuading me to study abroad in Rome and not Florence. Florence makes total sense for my love of the Medici and their artists (Donatello, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo) but the Counter Reformation is  so dramatic! And Caravaggio and Counter Reformation makes sense to go to Rome. Plus from what I’ve heard, Rome, because it is more tourist-y, is more accommodating toward English speakers, while Florence it is a little do or die.

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