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Deciphering Rome

Israël Silvestre, Panorama of the Vatican from the Dome of St. Peter’s, 1641. Graphite, gray and brown wash, with watercolor over traces of black chalk. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Philip Hofer, 1961.7.


Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy Street
Cambridge MA

Rome assumed its modern form in the 16th and 17th centuries, during the Renaissance and the Baroque period. Though the street network of Old Rome can be confusing to first-time visitors, it makes sense when considered in light of its connection to the dynastic ambitions of successive popes, from Julius II (the pope of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling) to Alexander VII (Bernini’s pope par excellence).

In this lecture, Joseph Connors, professor of the history of art and architecture at Harvard, will explore the shaping of Rome through the creation of targeted streets and celebratory piazzas. Drawing on material on display in the Harvard Art Museums, Connors’s talk aims to make Rome an open book—in which the history of the papacy is expounded.

This lecture is offered in conjunction with the installation Rome: Eternal City, on view in the University Teaching Gallery through May 6, 2018. This talk is also one of the many events on offer in 2018 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the canon’s house of the Church of San Biagio in Montepulciano, Italy, on which our Calderwood Courtyard was modeled.

The lecture will take place in Menschel Hall, Lower Level. Please enter the museums via the entrance on Broadway. Doors will open at 5:30pm.

Free admission, but limited seating is available. Tickets will be distributed beginning at 5:30pm at the Broadway entrance. One ticket per person.

Following the lecture, the University Teaching Gallery will remain open until 8pm.

Complimentary parking available in the Broadway Garage, 7 Felton Street, Cambridge.

Support for the lecture is provided by the Robert and Margaret Rothschild Lecture Fund at the Harvard Art Museums.