Imperial Forums: the road that no longer exists in a painting

The archaeological area of ​​the Imperial Forums and the Republican Forum, the largest in the world within a modern city, has always been experienced by the Romans as an area of ​​transit and passage thanks to the numerous streets that crossed it, as documented by the views of painters of the ‘700 and’ 800 and also the first photographic shots of the time.

But Rome grew as a city and as a traffic, disrespectful of historical places, until the cry of the then mayor Giulio Carlo Argan “Either cars or monuments”. A cry from his successor Luigi Petroselli, who decided, at the beginning of the eighties, to dismantle the street that connects the Forum to the Campidoglio, via della Consolazione, and created a pedestrian area between the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine, anticipating full pedestrianization dei Fori Imperiali, decided four years ago.

Thus we find via della Consolazione, before it was dismantled and when it was considered the most beautiful street in the world, protagonist in the painting by Salvatore Mangione (1947 – 2015), belonging to the E. Greco Collection. As you can see in the painting, the street connected via dei Fori Imperiali to Piazza della Consolazion on the Campidoglio, crossing the ancient republican forum and following the path of the ancient Clivus Capitolinus.

In the painting the artist captures the salient features of the monuments

According to the study on the work – carried out by the Sorgente Group Foundation, chaired by Valter Mainetti – the artist captures the salient features of the monuments depicted, maintaining their formal correctness and the proportion of spaces in the view of the northwestern area of ​​the Forum. On the left you can admire the three surviving columns surmounted by Corinthian capitals, of the Tempio del Divo Vespasiano, built by his son Tito and then completed by his brother Domitian, in honor of the deified father Vespasian. Also in the center of the painting is the background of the facade with dome of the Church of Santi Luca e Martina by Pietro da Cortona, built in 1635 to a design by Pietro Berrettini da Cortona with a Greek cross and dome layout, the only survivor not to be demolished due to the opening of Via dell’Impero.

The scrupulous observation of the painting then sees the sloping roof of the Curia Iulia, with a simple parallelepiped shape, which started by Caesar, was completed in 29 BC to host the meetings of the Senate. In front of the Curia, the Arch of Septimius Severus, built between 202 and 203 AD, appears majestic, slightly by three quarters, at the behest of the Senate in honor of the Emperor and his two sons, Caracalla and Geta, on the occasion of the victory obtained against the Parties. Finally, the columns of the Temple of Saturn rise to the right, in gray and pink granite with an Ionic capital and the entablature with a fragment of the tympanum. The building was one of the oldest sacred places present in the Roman Forum, consecrated in 497 BC, with a religious and also administrative function since the state treasury, the aerarium, was kept inside.

The metaphorical value of “ The view of via della Consolazione ”

The painter with the pseudonym of Salvo, paid great attention to the ancient ruins, since in his eyes they became the perfect metaphor of the transience of time, reinforcing the importance of reminiscence. In the 1980s – as the study of the Sorgente Group Foundation underlines – Salvo gave life to the most distinctive series of all his production: that of landscapes where the shapes became simple and geometric, accompanied by bright chromatic tones, combined with each other in an anti- naturalistic. This new style seemed to be yet another homage to the past, to the expressionist movement of the early twentieth century, when color wanted to guide the viewer’s eye towards the most intimate and introspective aspect of the painting. Salvo used to insist on how personal memory filtered and selected various memories, thus creating personal and unique images. Thus also in the painting real and easily recognizable landscapes become idealized views, with a magical and fairytale atmosphere, enhancing the importance and power of memory.




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