Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Off with their Heads: a tour of the Vatican Museum

Although I'm not a big fan of religion I do have an insatiable curiosity of art and culture, so a visit to Rome wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Vatican Museum.

The first word that describes the experience is “overwhelming.” Seven hours of non-stop art covering everything from ancient Egyptian artifacts, Greek and Roman sculpture, Renaissance tapestries and maps, ending with the religious works commissioned by various popes and cumulating with the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Of course, that’s just about the only liberal policy the Vatican has – even when it comes to classical art, they’re prudishly conservative in their attitude towards displaying artistic expressions of one of the most glorious things in nature, the human form.

Fig leaves abound, and not just in paintings of Adam & Eve. While the rest of Europe was enjoying the Renaissance and Enlightenment, a series of popes decided that certain parts of the human anatomy were obscene and directed hundreds of sculptured crotches to be covered with fig leaves.

This isn't Adam... so what's with the fig leaf?

In some cases they even went so far as to have the offending anatomical features chiseled away – off with their heads!

That had to hurt!

I wanted to talk to the Pope about this but I don't think he was home - I didn't see his car in the Vatican parking lot.

No Pope-mobile... he must be on tour.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the fig leaf pic and would like to reproduce it at the end of an article on growing figs. Could I have your permission please. Thanks John.