SOME DATA RE THE PANTHEON IN ROME
~ PAGE 2 ~

We start off this page with a composite image of the exterior of the building. At top left is a photograph said to be dating from 1875 but more accurately 1882 or 1883 at the earliest (see below re asses' ears for why). It must have been taken at an odd time of day because there is nobody or almost nobody around. Beside that is a reduced image of the top of the portico, a fine image incidentally complete with some Roman pigeons. It came, I know from a page on the site of the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. But seems no longer to be available. A side view is bottom right, with a delightful 1667 statue of an elephant - but I do not know where I found that image. And to the left is an item really not related to the Pantheon but to me is quite humorous. A 1905 postcard of the 'Grand Hôtel du Quirinal'. Now I know little about that hotel except that it was very famous indeed. Does it still exist? I do not know. The comment is priceless. (The postcard sold on e-Bay for U.S. $4.00 in early Sep. 2002. I saw another fine old Quirinal Hotel postcard, available for purchase. The writer sure didn't waste any available space, did he!)

The elephant? To continue my 'diversion' for a moment. I learn that in 1655 a small obelisk (about 5.5 metres long) inscribed with hieroglyphs on each side, was discovered in a garden belonging to the Dominican monastery by St. Mary's church which was built on the site of a temple dedicated to Minerva, Roman goddess of knowledge. The obelisk once decorated the Iseum or Temple of Isis, an important building of ancient Rome. The obelisk was dedicated to Pharaoh Ofra, who is mentioned in the Bible, I understand. Anyway, Pope Alexander VII decided to have the obelisk raised in front of St. Mary's church upon an appropriate base. While the elephant was the proposal & design of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, a famous neapolitan architect & sculptor, the marble statue would seem, in fact, to have been sculpted by Ercole Ferrata. The Romans call it 'Minerva's Chick', apparently (my previous link to a page that explained that has vanished) & it stands in piazza della Minerva, just behind the Pantheon. One quote I saw said that the writer 'loved the elephant's wrinkly bottom and cheeky expression!' Another said "that the Pope deliberately had the elephant placed with its rear end towards the Dominican monastery!"

If I later find a good image of the elephant's 'wrinkly bottom', I will show it to you!

Now I have been asked why I provide the images as I do throughout these pages - specifically the combination of a number of images into a single image. This is as good a place as any to say that I try to present images on a related subject together so they can be viewed at a single glance. (I don't always succeed in an ideal way as these pages are added incrementally.) And then, of course, I do not own the images that I use. Now many of them are centuries old anyway & for many I do not need permissions. But I think that there would be few objections to my use of an image when the end product is totally unsaleable. One is not supposed to use e-Bay images, I know. But who would object to the image of the "Grand Hôtel du Quirinal" postcard above. The seller who has already sold the item years ago? Surely not. The purchaser who bought it? Again surely not. The following is an example of what I mean. I would like to show you, in these pages, something of the construction of the Pantheon & the Étienne Du Pérac (or should it correctly be Dupérac?) mid 16th century print does that job better than anything of later date I have so far seen. When I add to that image essentially thumbnails of other images such as detail of what the frieze would have looked like, the end product is one which may please you, the visitor, but will hopefully not give offence to others. The fine 1620 print came courtesy of Kalervo Koskimies, of Helsingfors, Finland whose superb site can be found here. The smaller thumbnail image at top right came from here ~ click on the Pantheon link in the 3rd line. The other is a very tiny portion of a large print of source presently unknown to me.

Now from time to time, I check out what items are available for sale on e-Bay related to the Pantheon. A 1621 edition of the print that I have just featured sold on e-Bay on Oct. 18, 2002 for U.S. $152.50. Since the vendor's words add materially to my knowledge of such an early print, and that print is so very fine, I repeat here the print title & most of those words. Here is the vendor's site by way of thanks.


VESTIGIJ DEL PANTEONE DI M. AGRIPPA - 1575

Although artists from Northern Europe had begun to make the journey to Italy to see the work of Italian artists (and meet with them personally, if possible) the artistic inspiration of the ancient ruins in Rome and other locations was not immediate. Durer and Breughel made trips to Italy, for example, but made no records of these sites. Etienne Duperac (c. 1525-1604), a painter, architect and printmaker from Paris, was one of the first artists to publish prints of the ruins at Rome in 1575. Nearly two centuries before Vasi and Piranesi, Duperac saw the aesthetic potential of these ancient ruins. The only other artist I know of to do so at such an early date was Hendrick van Cleve (1524-1589).

The prints in this collection, known as "I Vestigi dell' Antichita di Roma," were published 6 times in the following century but impressions are uncommon nonetheless and early prints like this one are quite scarce. This impression comes from the third edition published in 1621. This particular plate shows Duperac, the artist, at his best, not just chronicling the architecture but the traffic and the landscape around the Pantheon.

Impression measures 15 by 8 3/8 inches including inscription at bottom on a sheet 17 by 11 inches.

So far I do not think that I have mentioned Bernini's "Asses' Ears" have I? (the Bernini referred to above). That is what the two bell towers that you can see in upper portions of the composite image below were called. They were constructed in the early-mid 1600s (have not found an exact date yet) & removed in 1882 or 1883. The main image is part only of an albumen image that must date therefore from prior to those dates. That image sold on e-Bay in Oct. 2002 for U.S. $57. At bottom right is a slightly later postcard image which shows the 'Asses' Ears' removed. The tiny image at top right comes from an 1882 edition of 'Museum of Antiquity' by L. W. Yaggy and T. L. Haines, which work was originally published in 1880. The text of such volume mentioned that below the main inscription on the frieze was another smaller line of text which 'states the building to have been restored by Septimus Severus and Caracalla' (in A.D. 202 it would appear - from other sources). Now that fact is mentioned, I can just see what looks like lettering in the image at the very top of this page. 'Museum of Antiquity' also had a fine half-section of the building which I will save to include in these pages later.

And after the exterior, the interior! I was interested to see that the Pannini work at top right below (full image here) has a band of quite prominent inscriptions running around the building interior. Interested because not only do they seem NOT to be there now (bottom image), but there seems to be no place physically in the building's design where there where they could EVER have been any such inscriptions. Artistic licence perhaps? But strange none the less. At top left (below) is a mid 18th century engraving by Giovanni Battista Piranesi that comes from the fine web site of Kalervo Koskimies, of Helsingfors, Finland. The main link to his site is on Pantheon datapage 1 but here is the particular full image as it appears on his site. The bottom image, in fact, is a portion of a 1999 photograph, also on Kalervo Koskimies site. 'Tis strange how these images evolve. I started this composite image with an albumen photographic image attributed to 'Anderson' that was for sale on e-Bay in Nov. 2002. But fine as it was, it did not compare in quality with what I finally present.

More when I have more!

To Pantheon datapages 1 & 3.

back to page 11, ~ Pantheon Lake Applet page ~ Special Pages Index