by Alexa Hassell, Chapter Intern
As a student of art history, who has never visited the Vatican Museums before, the opportunity to virtually “walk” through the New Wing (the Braccio Nuovo) at the Chiaramonti Museum is unprecedented! As one of my favorite spaces in the Vatican Museums, the New Wing houses Greek and Roman sculptures and busts throughout a long, bright hallway.
Skylights allow for natural light to dominate the space of the gallery and are placed in every barrel vault. Barrel vaults are semi-circular ceilings which connect the walls of the hallway and elongate the space.
Beautiful mosaics line the floors in cream and brown colors at intervals. If the floor does not have scenes of mariner conquests, then gold, white, and deep red marble remind the museum traveler of the importance of this space.
The hallway itself is lined with alcoves which house these sculptures and statues. Packed to the brim, a bust occupies the space between every alcove and a smaller bust rests on a shelf above. Above these busts and alcoves, friezes line the walls with scenes from the ancient Western world. Some of Rome’s most famous pieces are preserved in this expansive hallway.
One such piece, Augustus of Primaporta, resides in an alcove commanding the space just as Augustus commanded the military of Ancient Rome. Every detail, from the Cupid resting upon his right leg to the depictions of victory upon his breastplate, echoes the power and grace of Augustus.
The Braccio Nuovo beckons its visitors to take in every piece, every tile, every step towards the marriage between Renaissance architecture and Greek/Roman sculpture.
During this time of isolation, explore what the Vatican Museums have to offer and step into a piece of history through the virtual tours linked below.