News in brief: Roman frescoes and goddesses

A round-up the latest news in the world of Art History, including the discovery of Roman frescoes in a former Cinema in Verona, and the Louvre's acquisition of an important watercolour work.

Fire and frescoes

In Verona, northern Italy, excavations in the basement of a former cinema have uncovered a 2nd-century AD Roman building with well-preserved, colourful frescoes on its walls. Charred wooden furniture was found inside the building, which had a heating system under its floor, and the roof had collapsed. The Soprintendenza archeologia belle arti e paesaggio per le province di Verona, Rovigo e Vicenza explained that this building was damaged by a fire, and probably abandoned afterwards.

Looking at the Louvre

IMAGE: Département des Arts graphiques. Musée du Louvre © ADER Maison de ventes.

The Louvre in Paris has announced its acquisition of a c.1817 watercolour showing a view of two rooms in the museum around the time of its reopening during France’s Restoration period. Architects Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine – to whom the watercolour is attributed – were commissioned to complete the earlier Louvre architect Jean-Arnaud Raymond’s work to extend the Greek and Roman galleries. It is their completed galleries that we see in the newly acquired View of the Tiber Room and the Fighting Hero Room, and also in the View of the Melpomene Room, acquired by the Louvre more than 65 years ago. Works visible in the image include the Borgese Gladiator, a representation of the Tiber, and an Egyptian basalt sphinx. The watercolour offers an important view of this part of the museum following an eventful period of closures, name-changes, and the restitutions of works seized during the revolution and under Napoleon.

Depicting the divine

A painting of the Roman goddess Juno by Alonso Cano is the first mythological work by the Baroque Spanish artist to enter the collection of the Prado in Madrid. The Prado is home to 19 paintings and more than 30 drawings by Cano, mostly of religious subjects. Compared to religious scenes, portraiture, and still-life, mythological compositions were relatively rare for Cano and other Spanish artists of his day. Cano is only known to have painted two. Not only is the mythological subject matter unusual, but so is Cano’s handling of the female body, with the goddess’s exposed leg and breast.

The work, which shows Juno with a peacock (one of her attributes) was likely painted sometime between 1638 and 1652, when Cano was working on the decorations of the royal Alcázar in Madrid.