Memories of the Ancient Past

Giovanni Paolo Panini, Capriccio con il Pantheon, statue e figure (1739)
Porcelain and furnishings during the days of the Grand Tour
07/03 - 06/07/2008
Musei Capitolini,
Palazzo Caffarelli

When artefacts recovered from important archaeological sites in Rome and the excavations in Pompeii and Herculaneum went on public display in the 18th century, they certainly rekindled a general interest in the ancient world. This exhibition, featuring porcelain manufactured in Doccia and items in biscuit by Giovanni Volpato, makes that fact very clear as the displays include the original ancient prototypes with which to compare them. Examples of Naples and foreign porcelain are also on show as are a selection of paintings, drawings and engravings.

The exhibition sets out to explore the huge interest taken in archaeological relics - small sculptures and items in biscuit (porcelain that has been fired but not glazed) in particular - that ended up adorning the side tables, shelves and mantelpieces of those who took the Grand Tour.
It also sheds new light on and explores the artistic formation of some of the major and best-known artists of the period, such as Giovanni Volpato and Filippo Tagliolini, and their connection to Roman neo-classic sculpture, and the world of restoration generally that so represented the taste in antiques at that time.
Much of the exhibition is concentrated on taking a closer look at the reproductions of some of the most famous prototypes of ancient Rome and archaeological collections of Roman remains, as seen in the porcelain items made by Doccia and Giovanni Volpato’s items in biscuit. They can be compared with original, ancient pieces and bronzes that became collector’s items almost as soon as they had been taken out of the ground.
Porcelain from Naples is also on display, as are various drawings and engravings that all serve to illustrate the extent of the influence on taste that was incurred as a result of the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum. To round off the exhibition, a few items originating from countries other than Italy are also being included to show the extent that news about what was being recovered from archaeological digs underway in Italy proved influential. Of particular interest in this regard are pots bearing a strong resemblance to those brought to light that - as seen in illustrations of various publications of the period - brought about changes to the design and decoration of tableware and dinner services being bought at that time.
Using ceramic items displayed amidst archaeological relics, paintings, sculptures, water-colours, drawings and engravings, the exhibition showcases the figurative and cultural climate that generated such an intense fascination with Ancient times.


Musei Capitolini
, Palazzo Caffarelli
Opening hours

Tuesday - Sunday 9.00am - 8.00 pm
The ticket office closes one hour before closing time
Closed on Monday, 1st May

Entrance ticket

A single ticket includes the Musei Capitolini and the Exhibition
€ 8,00 ordinary
€ 6,00 reduced
Tickets and reservations


060608 every day 9.00 am - 7.30 pm

Exhibition|Archeology, Exhibition|Modern Art, Exhibition|Applied Arts
Booking compulsory:
Zètema - Progetto Cultura S.r.l.
Sponsored by

BNL-Gruppo BNP PARIBAS, Banca di Roma-Unicredit Group, Monte dei Paschi di Siena-Gruppo MPS, Vodafone

With technical contributions from

La Repubblica

Andreina D’Agliano e Luca Melegati

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