This collection, founded by Cardinal Ludovisi in the first half of the 17th century, to ornament his famous villa, was once the small cloister of the ex-Carthusian.
The mosaic floor, one of the largets in existence, measuring nearly 400 square metres, was found in the excavation of “Castel Porziano” the hunting park of king Victor Emanuel III, among the ruins of an ancient Roman bathing establishment. It represents hunting scenes of amphitheatres and mythological subjects, and was presented by the king to the museum.
Beginning by the first wing right on entering:
Beautiful female Statue remarkable for the drapery and the noble dignified attitude, dating from the Greek archaic period, 5th cent. B.C.
Mercury as the God of eloquence, attributed to the first manner of Phidias, when he was still under the influence of the art of Myron.
Minerva a Hellenistic copy by Antiochios of the famous Minerva by Phidias, which ornamented the temple of the goddess in Athens. On the drapery near the right foot is the name of the copyst.
Efebus. A young man seated on the floor, supposed to represent an Efebus. The statue is very much restored.
Venus. One of the many copies of the Venus of Cnidos larger than life size.
The Gaul. A colossal group representing a conquered leader of the Gauls, supporting with his left arm his dead wife, whom he has just killed, while he is stabbing himself with his right hand, rather than surrender to the victor. The group, a beautiful piece of Hellenistic workmanship, is a copy from the famous bronze originals (to which belonged also dying Gaul of the Capitoline museum ), which Attalus king of Pergamus erected in the Temple of Athena Polias in this city and in the Acropoli of Athens in 250B.C., to commemorate the victories he gained over the Galatians, when they invaded Asia. The original was the work of four artists of the school of Pergamus: Antigonos, Phyromacos, Epigonos and Stratonikos. The group, although spoiled by the erroneous restoration of the right arm of the man and the left arm of the woman, is very impressive and most noteworthy fro the wonderful rendering of the determined and ferocious expression on the barbarian’s face.
In the next cabinet, right, is the:
Birth of Venus. The marble throne we see before us, is one of the greatest works of early Greek art, probably used as a pedestal for a statue and representing the birth of Venus, a delicate piece of workmanship of the 5th cent. B.C. This charming work in pentelic marble has on the sides two reliefs, one representing a priestess in the act of offering incense, the other figure of a girl playing the double flute.
The throne is a fine and rare specimen of the developed Greek archaic art, as is demonstrated by the inexperience shown in the eyes which are represented straight in the faces on profile.
The fomuos Ludovisi Juno. A colossal head of a goddess, calm, solemn and dignified, an archaic Greek original of the early part of the 5th century B.C. Although generally known under the name of Juno, opinions vary very much as to the subject the statue was intended to represent.
Mars. The celebrated Ludovisi Mars, a very singular and peculiar representation of the God of War. The melancholy, dreamy and pensive pose of the young Mars, which has nothing of the martial and ferocious expression of the God of War, is explained by the presence of the Cupid who denotes that also the God of War is liable to undergo the influence of the little God of Love. It recalls the art of Lisippus. The most important group in the 3rd wing is: Oreste and Electra meeting each other on the tomb of their father;
The hair of Electra is cut short as a sign of mourning for the death of her father while the funeral stele. Near the leg of Oreste, indicates their father tomb. Electra is represented as urging her brother to revenge the murder of their father, by assassinating their mother Clytemnestra. The group is the work of Menelaus, an artist of the first century B.C., whole signature is visible in the support. Official Rome Guide, Rome city Tours.
Large Sarcophagus. representing a battle scene between Romans and Barbarians. High up in the centre is the leader of the Romans, most likely a portrait of some Roman General. Leaving the Ludovisi collection a door at the end of a Vestibule admits us in the:
Large Cloister. This, of the simplest and purest design, ornamented by a hundred beautiful columns, is a gem af architecture and is attributed to Michelangelo who transformed a large part of the Baths of Diocletian into a Carthusian convent. The Garden in the centre, is very pretty with beautiful cypress trees, said to have been planted by Michelangelo himself. In the arcades around are collected and preserved fragments of statues, pedestals sarcophagi etc. Which, especially on the North West, are very well preserved and give an idea of the monk’s life.
In these cells the monks could live alone a life of retirement in the strictest seclusion from the outer world; every one of them having a little garden and loggia. Guide of Rome.
In the second Wing of the large cloister we see the Lid of a very rare sarcophagus of a married couple, divided by religion but united by love. The husband, who must have been a follower of Christ, wife, a pagan, was cremated and her ashes preserved in the cinerary urn in the same sarcophagus as her husband. Official Rome Guide, Rome city Tours.
Further on, at the bottom of this wing, a large mosaic represents the worship of the animals sacred to the Nile.
Nearby (at the beginning of the third wing) the : Ludi seculars. This inscription, finely and magnificently cut, has great historical interest as it reminds us of the famous “Ludi Suculares” celebrated under the reign of Augustus in 17 B.C., and of the “Carmen Seculares” just written by Horace and sung by boys and girls of patrician families. Rome tours and sightseeing.