One of the most enigmatic figures of ancient Rome is certainly that of Nero. A character who still divides historians and who has fascinated directors, writers and artists of all ages. The myth of Nero comes back to life today in two important initiatives: a monumental exhibition at the British Museum and the reopening of the east wing of the Domus Aurea.
From 23 June 2021, in conjunction with the exhibition dedicated to the grotesques and Raphael, the east wing of the Domus Aurea will reopen for visitors. Many news for visitors, starting with the elimination of scaffolding and the restoration of many frescoes. “The sun seems to finally enter the Domus Aurea,” said Alfonsina Russo, director of the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum. “The new lighting simulates natural light in some environments, such as the large Cryptoporticus, highlighting painted walls and perspectives. Here, the arrangement of the points of light also made us discover a trick of the ancient architects: the tall lancet windows were in front of other placed lower, so as to filter the sunlight into dark back rooms “.
In the new immersive path there will be the typical “grotesques”, the frescoes that characterize the Domus Aurea and have been an example for many artists, and even some statues. Do not miss the interactive and multimedia exhibition entitled “Raphael and the Domus Aurea. The invention of the grotesques ”, scheduled until 7 January 2022.
The exhibition, curated by Vincenzo Farinella and Alfonsina Russo with Stefano Borghini and Alessandro D’Alessio, promoted by the Colosseum Archaeological Park and produced by Electa, should have been inaugurated on 6 April 2020 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the painter’s death. As Minister Dario Franceschini said while attending the inauguration, “this exhibition in view of the next G20 of culture here at the Colosseum shows that Italy is investing in the future. We have enriched an extraordinary and unique place that leaves everyone speechless also thanks to a contemporary quality intervention that performs a function and at the same time is reconciled with protection and conservation. Now we have to make the outside beautiful too, on the degradation and safety of Colle Oppio which we can take care of as the Colosseum Park ”.
The exhibition at the British Museum, “Nero: the man behind the myth”, boasts over two hundred artifacts, and traces its history through frescoes from Pompeii, statues of the family and members of the dynasty, jewels, coins, passing from the glories of his ascent to the throne until death. In particular, the London exhibition can exhibit a treasure consisting of coins, bracelets, gold rings and earrings, military silver medals, dating back to around 60 AD and found in Colchester.
The Nero of the British Museum is an emperor who loves beauty, the grandiose, the spectacular. The relationship with his mother, Agrippina Minore, is also fascinating, the victim of the same son that she had helped to put on the throne. The London exhibition also rejects one of Nero’s most stereotypical images, namely that of being an arsonist. Modern historians are quite in agreement in affirming that if anything Nero “took advantage” of those flames. In short, a character still to be discovered.
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