Colors of the Romans Exhibit: Mosaics from the Capitoline Collections

Colors of the Romans: Mosaics from the Capitoline Collections is a new exhibit hosted at Centrale Montemartini in Rome until September 2021.

The new exhibit will be open to the public at Centrale Montemartini until September 2021

The Mosaics Collection, conducted by the Capitoline Collections, housed at the beautiful Centrale Montemartini near the renowned Colosseum, showcases a broad array of mosaics providing a magnificent narration of Ancient Rome. This collection, promoted by Roma Culture and the Capitoline Superintendence for Cultural Heritage displays a vast selection of mosaics that have previously been little known to the public and illustrate the history of Rome and will run from April 27th through June 15, 2022.

The excavations, carried out by the Capitone Museums Collection, began during the first half of the 20th century, led to the discovery of a large number of not only incredible Italian mosaics, but also statues and objects used for the decoration of buildings and homes during ancient times. Divided into four thematic sections, the exhibition and its pieces follow chronological order. These four sections have been described as: the art of mosaics among Romans; living in Rome during the end of the Republican age; the Hilarian basilica; and lastly, mosaics from the necropolis of Rome. 

Colors of the Romans: Mosaics from the Capitoline Collections is a new exhibit hosted at Centrale Montemartini in Rome until September 2021.
Musei Capitolini, Antiquarium, AC  486 Mosaico policromo a cassettoni

As you enter the first room within the exhibition, you are met with the simplistic black and white mosaic, which gained popularity during the late first century BC. This technique involving black and white gained its dominance due to its inexpensive material of limestone. As you make your way deeper into the exhibition, you are able to see the evolution of designs and techniques involved in the creation of mosaics, as seen with the Woven Floor Mosaic. This piece is composed of rectangular tiles, forming what gives the illusion of intertwined plants, or a woven basket. Within this sprawling mosaic exhibition, you are able to truly grasp the evolution of materials, processes, and styles incorporated within mosaics.

Originally, tile mosaics were in fact just composed of colored pebble floors that had already been in existence since as early as the 5th and 4th century BC, used as decoration for homes across Greece, Macedonia, Sicily and Magna Gracia. The transition from these colored pebbles within mosaics to purely decorative flooring came as a result of the contact between Greek art and culture and the Roman people. One of the mosaics you meet later on as you progress within the exhibition displays what is presumed as a wall mosaic and features a series of motifs that create a band, a running motif as well as an undulated ribbon that unfolds into a white background with exquisite green petals.

Colors of the Romans: Mosaics from the Capitoline Collections is a new exhibit hosted at Centrale Montemartini in Rome until September 2021.
Musei Capitolini, Antiquarium, AC 4493 Mosaico policromo con busto di stagione

The incorporation of more and varied materials within mosaics is depicted within the second room, as you are met with a wall mosaic frame that is lined with seashells. The shells used within this piece are used to provide a scenographic effect in the interpretation of the environment. As you direct your eyes into the opposite direction, a stunningly intricate piece known as a Polychrome Emblema meets your gaze, with its image of a powerful lion and cupids. It is composed of minute marble and vitreous paste and was found in Anzio, in Rome.

The intensity provided by the immaculate detailing of the tiny mosaic tiles that are beautifully spread out and organized is absolutely jaw-dropping. The next room is taken up by a stunning first century BC mosaic composed of Palombino barre, basalt and colored limestone. The Polychrome Coffered Mosaic is a large floor mosaic made of what is known as twenty coffers, each displaying its own decorative element, either belonging to a plant or weapon element.

Colors of the Romans: Mosaics from the Capitoline Collections is a new exhibit hosted at Centrale Montemartini in Rome until September 2021.
Musei Capitolini, Antiquarium , AC 32360 Mosaico policromo parietale con nave e faro

The next sight is even more impressive, displaying in great detail and vibrant colors various species of fish, providing an incredible sense of realism with its background, shifting tones, and simulating seabed. A group of wall frescoes discovered in 1880 occupy the next room and are composed of third-century AD painted watercolor on plaster. 

The exhibition concludes with a small collection of ancient statues and architraves, one being from the well-known Italian noble family, Barberini. The exhibition is truly a must-see as it provides an artistic and visual insight into Roman society over centuries. 


till June 15, 2022

Where
Centrale Montemartini
Via Ostiense, 106 

Opening hours
From Tuesday to Sunday 9am – 7pm

Tickets
Museum + exhibit: €8-€10
More info here

centralemontemartini.org

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