Curated by Eugenio La Rocca, Serena Ensoli and Stefano Tortorella, in conjunction with MondoMostre.
With the exhibition Roma. Pittura di un Impero (Rome. The Painting of an Empire) the Scuderie del Quirinale presents the figurative representation of a crucial period in Roman history, from the 1st century BC to the 5th AD. Six centuries which saw the Roman Empire rise and develop, from the advent of Julius Caesar in 49 BC to the extraordinary consolidation of advanced power structures that could hold such a vast territory together.
In this period of time colonial expansion gave rise to a cultural ferment of rare intensity, to such a degree that the art of imperial Rome may be considered a source of inspiration for cultural and aesthetic canons that left their mark on the whole of subsequent western painting and art. Roman painting may be framed in this context not only in its formal aspect but also as an authentic language by images, revealer of aspects of the collective imagination and correlated with the more general system of representation of a concrete society, the foundations of all subsequent civilisation.
Gaining in-depth knowledge of painting production, one of the most immediate and authentic expressions, on the one hand may contribute to a more multifaceted understanding of Roman society while on the other hand can provide the tools for evaluating the originality of this production, going beyond the view of Roman painting as a derivation and passive heir of classical Greek heritage. From landscape to still life, from stage design to popular painting, from the portrait to myth reinterpreted in accordance with the Roman tradition, the exhibition reveals all the themes of antique painting by means of great frescoes, refined portraits on wood, decorations, friezes and views of great vitality, recovered from both the patrician domus and the ordinary home or shop. Around 100 works of exceptional elegance and refinement, organised in five sections in such a way as to reconstruct the complexity of a figurative school from which development of modern pictorial genres derived, starting with Raphael to name only one example.
They are all loan works from the world's most important archaeological sites and museums, including the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the archaeological museums of Munich, Frankfurt and Zurich, not to mention the Naples Archaeological Museum, the Pompeii Excavations, the National Museum of Rome, the Vatican Museums and the Capitoline Museums of Rome. Famous and highly frequented places where, however, the individual work may somestimes be lost. The value of the exhibition in fact lies also in the 'revelation' of magnificent and famous pieces by seeing them in the light of a wholly new interpretation, in a context devised by the great theatre director Luca Ronconi who has returned once more to curate the setting up of a great exhibition.