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Tour of the Vatican Museums - Part Two

Tour of the Vatican Museums - Part Two

This is the second part of the article, read the first part here.

We concluded the first part of our tour in the Laocoön cabinet, let's move now to the Hermes cabinet, where the statue of Hermes - copy of an original Greek artwork probably realized by Praxiteles - is displayed. Here we also find a remarkable greek original from the fifth century B.C., representing the head of Minerva. In the Perseus Cabinet are displayed instead the three statues Canova realized in order to replace the three ancient statues on the same subject: Perseus, and the two wrestlers Kreugas and Damoxenos.

We move to the Animal Room, where numerous statues representing various types of animals are displayed. On the right we find a long gallery of statues where the Apollo Sauroktonos is also located. The statue is a pleasant reproduction of a greek original by Praxiteles. At the end of the room the Hall of Busts  opens before us. The hall contains an interesting series of busts, most of which are Roman originals. It is especially famous the copy known as Cato and Porcia, representing two Romans spouses from the first century B.C.

We return in the Gallery of Statues through a passage adorned with a beautiful bas-relief, a Greek artwork from the fifth century B.C, originally part of a funerary stele of a young athlete. We enter now the Cabinet of the Masks, a square-shaped room decorated with floor mosaics from Villa Adriana in Tivoli. These mosaics represent theatrical mask and a lovely landscape with animals. In the walls there are four niches, that alternate with columns in precious oriental alabaster. Some of the most admired female statues of antiquity are placed in the four niches: in the center there is the Venus of Knidos, a copy of the famous original by Praxiteles, on the left there is the elegant group of the Three Graces, copy of an original from the second century BC, and on the right there is a small copy of the graceful Venus Crouching by Doidalsas, Bithynian sculptor from the third century B.C.

Our next stop is the Hall of the Muses, which owes its name to the statues here displayed, representing seven out of the nine famous mythological figures, protectors of the arts, accompanied here by the statue of their god, Apollo Musagete. The group consists of Roman copies of Greek originals from the third century B.C. At the center of the hall we find the famous Belvedere Torso, a Hellenistic fragment from the first century BC, signed by Apollonius. The figure is represented sitting on a lion's skin, devoid of the head and the limbs.

From here we move to the Round Hall. At the center of the room there is a colossal cup of porphyry while on the walls there are niches containing large statues, among which the majestic Portrait of Antinous. We conclude the statues section in the Greek Cross Hall, where two majestic porphyry sarcophagi, belonging to two women of Emperor Constantine’s family: the Sarcophagus of Sant 'Elena, mother of the Emperor, and the Sarcophagus of Santa Costanza, daughter of the Emperor.

We can now choose to visit the Vatican Apostolic Library founded by Sixtus IV in 1475 or to visit the Borgia Apartments: six bedrooms, two of which painted by Pinturicchio. In 1527, during the Sack of Rome, the Borgia Apartments were seriously damaged by the ferocious Bourbon soldiers. It was Pope Leo XIII who had them restored in 1889. In 1973 Paul VI created a gallery of modern religious art and arranged it in fifty-five rooms including the ones of the Borgia Apartment.

Follow the Raphael Rooms and the Vatican Loggias.

Author: Luisanna Vespa