Category Archives: Renaissance

What inspired Bernini?

For one thing…Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 11.57.56 AMthis amazing work from the 1st or 2nd c. CE, a copy after a Greek original. Called The Dying Gaul, the sculpture was discovered in Rome in the early 17th c. It was first mentioned in writing in 1623…around the time Bernini was working for Cardinal Scipio Borghese.

This is the kind of work that also inspired Donatello and Michelangelo, although they never saw this particular sculpture. But Rodin knew it, as well as every other great sculptor in the Western tradition.

It’s on exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. until March 16, 2014.

Here’s the press release from the NGA, and an article about the work from today’s Washington Post with additional views.

First depiction in Europe of indigenous Americans?

In 1494, Pinturicchio completed a fresco of the Resurrection in the Borgia Apartments of the Vatican f0r his patron, Pope Alexander VI Borgia.  The painting has recently been cleaned and scholars are debating the identity of the nearly nude dancing male figures in the distant background (visible immediately under the figure  of the resurrected Christ).


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This raises interesting questions.  Is this an accurate representation of the men Columbus encountered?  What did artists in Rome know about Columbus’s voyages, especially his first voyage of 1492?  If Pinturicchio depicted indigenous people here, why?  What might this say about views the Christian world held at this time?

For more, read this related article.

“Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe”

“Adoration of the Kings.” Girolamo da Santacroce, circa 1525–30 , oil on panel, 67.7 x 81.2 cm. Acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection, 1902.
The Walters Art Museum


If you’re near Baltimore, this is an important exhibit to see at the Waalters Art Museum, and here is a review by Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, October 25, 2012.

“Head of an African Man Wearing a Turban,” Peter Paul Rubens, circa 1609, oil on paper, laid down on panel, 54 x 39 cm,
Private collection, courtesy of Jean-Luc Baroni Ltd., London