The Santarelli Collection
This room houses the glyptic collection of the Dino and Ernesta Santarelli Foundation, on loan for 10 years at the Capitoline Museums, with items from ancient Egypt, the Near East, from the Greek-Roman world and modern Europe, and presented with a complete educational resource, accompanied by explanatory panels, multimedia tools and illustrative films on the technical processes of glyptic art.
Besides a large group of Egyptian scarabs which bear the names of pharaohs, there are numerous carvings and cameos from the Roman period, including the portrait of Commodus as Hercules, there are some interesting magical amulets of the imperial age, rare works of the era of Frederick and works by the most important engravers working between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The museum's glyptic collection of the Dino and Ernesta Santarelli Foundation, promoted by the Municipality of Rome, Department of Cultural Affairs and Communications - Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali, represents the culmination of a larger project launched in 2010 with the presentation of the Foundation Santarelli and a ten-year loan of the collection at the Capitoline Museums. The collection was amassed by Ernesta D'Orazio and her husband Dino Santarelli, expanded by their offspring and catalogued by the Foundation, through the purchase of private collections and finds at antique markets over the last twenty years, with the aim of providing a comprehensive scientific documentation.
Engraved gemstones have always fascinated collectors, connoisseurs and art historians: used as seals or simply considered as valuable miniature artefacts, they are present in many cultures. They were valued both for aesthetic reasons and for the information that they can give about art, material culture and history of the civilizations that produced them. Direct expression of the individual talent or of the public authority, gemstones have deeper meanings in a small expressive space. In addition, the handling of the stones (thus the ease with which they could be transported) helped to spread the iconographic models. For this reason they were one of the most effective means by which the European civilization began the rediscovery of the ancient world: starting from the Renaissance in Italy and in Europe, the master engravers copied and were inspired by the works of their ancient predecessors. The first numismatic and glyptic collections were amassed in the princely courts and among the noble families, often competing with each other: driven by passion for history, but also to show a status symbol. The collections of families such as the Medici, the Orsini and the Farnese are a great example of this fashion. Archival papers and private correspondence show a bustling world of commerce, trade and networking around the glyptic art that increasingly needed help from scholars.
When historical sciences began to develop and archaeological methods were improved, glyptic studies became more and more intense.
Giovanni Pichler (1734-1791)