Sunday, April 17, 2016

Tour: The Sacred and the Sexual

The Sacred and the Sexual, a visit of Palazzo Barberini.
Discovering this unique art collection we will focus on the development of European taste in matter of nudity, sexuality and love to find out that both profane and sacred art pieces are valuable historic sources to comprehend the morality of the European society through the centuries.

We will enter the Barberini Palace built for pope Urban VIII around 400 years ago. It is an extraordinary palace and hosts the National Collection of Renaissance and Baroque art with masterpieces of artists like Raphael, Caravaggio, Bernini and Pietro da Cortona.
Address: Palazzo Barberini, via delle Quattro Fontane, 13.

Strolling through the streets of downtown Rome literally means being surrounded by beauty. Streets, squares, churches, museums, sun, colors are an ode to beauty. The concept of beauty is a pillar of the classical Greek-Roman art and often shows sensuality and eroticism; just think of the various female and male classical nudes visible in the museums of the city.
But, as the reader would rightly think, "religion is something else". Nevertheless, sometimes, walking through museums and churches - almost without realizing it, perhaps because unexpected - all sorts of nudes jump out at us as we wander by. Naked flesh of the Saints and corporal ecstasy, the breasts of a Madonna nursing the Holy Baby, and often even the groin of the child Jesus unveiled! All of a sudden we stop dead in our tracks thinking "Hey wait, but, what did I see?". Is this Christian art, is this the Roman Catholic Church? Wasn't nakedness sinful, embarrassing? The sense of it exists and is connected to the innermost part of the Christian faith.

- In Christian societies, patrons and artists valued chastity and celibacy. Depictions of unclothed bodies were very rare and used just to convey ideas of shame, how and when did it change?

- What is the influence of "classical" Greek and Roman art nudes on the development of European art?
- Nudity in Christian art is just a consequence of Renaissance naturalism or it is an aesthetic choice guided by deep religious beliefs? 
 - What is the difference in-between nudity and nakedness?
- Are sex objects in art shown just for the viewer's gratification?
- Could sexuality in mythological and biblical themes panting be elevated as a legitimate subject of art?

-Practical information-
Every day exept mondays.
Duration:       2 hours
Languages:    italian / english / español / nederlands


  1. Very catching topic, great, can't wait to come to Rome!

  2. The tour of Palazzo Barberini (Palace) was thrilling, discovering masterpieces of painting and architecture, new to me. Guide Christaan told of the dynamics between Popes, rich benefactors, and the unbelievably gifted artists who created the beauty we see in Rome today. He explained how the theologian debates on the nature of Christ resulted in centerpiece nudes hanging in the Palazzo today. I seldom take tours but this one was invaluable to me. Christiaan is an art historian and lively storyteller. Let him guide you to the fresco vaulted ceiling of the Palazzo Barberini reception hall and then try to tear yourself away.


About Us

Christiaan Santini, Rome, Italy / - Tour Designer, Tour Guide, Tour Manager / Official Tour Guide license issued by the Regional Administration of Rome (nr. 4545) / p.iva: 12307641006 / c.f.: sntcrs79e19h501o / Nationality: Italian-Dutch

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