Modern Rome refers to the city after the fall of Mussolini and the end WWII, when it was named the capital of the Italian Republic in 1946. Though Modern Rome may be less than 100 years old, the ancient city has a history dating back thousands of years to the Roman Empire – an period in which hundreds of artists left their mark on the city.
Rome’s Art Periods
The natural, linear perspective-based artwork produced by Rafael and Michelangelo during the Italian Renaissance (Late 15th century to Mid-17th century) made the period one of the most important in Rome’s history. However it is by no means the only noteworthy one. The early centuries, from the 5th to the 15th, encompass the Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic periods. Early Italian art shared a similar static, 2-dimensional quality and most often depicted religious iconography.
After the Italian Renaissance, the art of the Baroque period focused on the social turmoil and religious conflicts. Paintings from the era depicted graphically dramatic images with vibrant hues and exaggerated lights and darks by use of a technique called chiaroscuro.
Paintings and Frescos
The Sistine Chapel tops the list of locations to visit for art lovers interested in the paintings and frescos on display in Rome. Not only can tourists take in the famous works painted on the ceiling by the renowned High Renaissance painter, Michelangelo, they can also view wall frescos created by other famed Renaissance painters, including Sandro Botticelli, Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino) and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Aside from the Sistine, Rome’s museums and galleries contain dozens of masterworks by celebrated painters. The Galleria Borghese houses works by Titian, Rubens, Van Dyck, Messina and Michelangelo. In the Galleria Doria Pamphilj, a private collection is on display featuring prominent works by Velázquez, Rubens, Bellini and Brueghel. Other notable artworks are on display at the Galleria dell’Accademia di San Luca, the Galleria Spada and Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica in the Palazzo Corsini.
Aside from being the famed painter of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo is also the sculptor behind the famous sculpture known as “The Pieta.” The sculpture is on display in St. Peter’s Basilica, which is located within Vatican City. St. Peter’s is also home to the Baroque-period Statue of St. Andrews, carved by the Flemish sculptor Francois Duquensnoy.
Giovanni Bernini, another Baroque sculptor, has a number of famous statues on display in galleries and museums throughout Rome. His marble statue of Apollo and Daphne can be viewed at the Galleria Borghese, along with his sculpture of Pluto and Proserpina.
Ancient Architecture as Art
One cannot discuss the art of modern Rome without mentioning the artistry exhibited in the architecture of Rome’s ancient ruins. Dating back to A.D. 72, the Colosseum incorporates hundreds of arches and includes both Doric and Corinthian columns into its design. Right next door the the Colosseum is the ornately-carved Arch of Constantine with its celebratory friezes. Rome’s Pantheon features granite Corinthian columns that tower over 50 feet high, and is the only ancient building to remain intact in Modern Rome.
Modern Art in Rome
While many art lovers visiting Rome focus on seeing classic works from Rome’s Renaissance or Baroque periods, Modern Rome also has an entire National Gallery of Modern Art. The Museum consists of 75 rooms featuring artwork from the 19th and 20th century. While many Italian artists are represented within the collection, the gallery also contains modern artwork from artists of all nationalities.
The collection includes pieces by classic masters, such as Monet, van Gogh and Dega, who are considerably modern in the scope of Italy’s extensive art history. The National Gallery also displays traditionally modern works, such as Surrealist pieces by the German painter Max Ernst and paintings of abstract Expressionism by Jackson Pollock