Egypt, Babylonia, objects belonging to the Gonzaga family, and a magnificent portrait of the creator of Palazzo Te: collections that were destined to come together, illustrating different epochs in the history of humanity. The Gonzaga family, and in particular Isabella D’Este and her son duke Frederick, were passionate collectors.
One of the seven small wooden boards of the collection. The cuneiform writing on it is a list of several vases, offered, during ceremonies, to the goddess Ninissina, “Lady of Isin”, one of the main divinities of the Sumerian city-state of Isin, in southern Mesopotamia. Also inscribed on the board is the name of the year the list refers to.
The main section of the Giovanni Acerbi collection was donated to the Civic Museum of Mantua in 1840. Already at the end of the eighteenth century this museum possessed two Egyptian statues. The donated works became part of the permanent collection in 1925 and were displayed in the halls of Palazzo Ducale; in more recent times they formed the core of the collection belonging to the Museum in Palazzo Te. This beautiful sculpture of a cat is one of the most important items of the collection for its artistic value. Thirty-six centimetres in height, it was shaped with great attention and realism, giving particular emphasis to the musculature and to the noble pose of the head. The cat was a sacred animal in ancient Egypt, and was linked to the goddess Bastet. The work of art dates to the twenty-fifth dynasty, in the Third Intermediate Period after the New Kingdom, characterized by the rule of Nubian sovereigns, descendants of the priests of Amon who had been driven out of Thebes centuries before.
A beautiful bronze head from the Hellenistic era. According to some experts it is the head of Queen Arsinoe the Third, who married her brother Ptolemy the Fourth. According to others, this is the goddess Aphrodite, and the work dates to the years just before the advent of Christ, a hypothesis that is supported mostly by the shape of the hair. The face is very beautiful, also, the missing eyes – glass pearls or gems once filled the sockets - contribute to the overall intensity of the work.
This coloured statuette was part of a set of funerary object dating to the New Kingdom of Egypt. It was part of the complex Egyptian religion to surround dead people with a rich ensemble of sacred images that would protect the deceased during their afterlife voyage. The falcon symbolizes the Egyptian god Horus, associated to the sun, son of of Isis and Osiris. Here the eye of the falcon is represented like the sun.
Duamutef was one of the four powerful sons of Horus, the god protecting one of the canopic vases in which the viscera of the dead person were preserved, while the body would have been mummified. This cover represents Duamutef’s head, with the face of a jackal, while the other divinities have falcon, baboon and human features. Traces of black colour are still visible on the artifact.
This fragment is 11,5 cm high.
It represents a man offering a naos to the divinity. In architecture the naos is the inner part of the temple, a sort of cell that hosts the divine figure. The main character represented is showing the god the place where he is going to be venerated. The text engraved on the little statue explains that the offer is for Osiris. The rite is presided over by a priest with a shaved head.
Pisanello, also a well known medal-maker, spent a considerable period of time working for the Marquis Gianfrancesco. On the front of this medal the name and title of the Marquis are visible, while on the back the artists signed his name, next to the image of the Marquis riding a horse; another rider also visible on the back presents traits that are similar to some details of the frescoes in Palazzo Ducale. The paintings tell the deeds of the knights of the Round Table and depict the tournament they took part in.
Under the lower side of this bucket-shaped container is this sentence: “OLEARUM SOLEI SEX DEC EXEMPLUM PARTIS 1554”. It mentions the year it was made and explains that the measure contained it’s the sexteenth part of Mantua’s solio.
The artifact is enriched by a vegetal decoration and by four coat of arms: those of Hercules, Gonzaga, the city of Mantua, Margherita Paleologo. The fourth emblem is the composite coat of arms of Paleogo and Gonzaga.
Ideato e promosso da / Founded and Promoted by:
Mattia Palazzi (Sindaco del Comune di Mantova)
con Lorenza Baroncelli (Assessore alla rigenerazione urbana e del territorio, marketing urbano, progetti e relazioni internazionali del Comune di Mantova)
Coordinamento Scientifico / Scientific Coordinator:
Curatore testi e immagini / Superintendent texts and images:
In collaborazione con / in cooperation with:
Stefano Benetti (Palazzo Te e Musei Civici)
Foto di / Photo by:
Gian Maria Pontiroli
Redazione / Editors:
Un ringraziamento speciale a / A special thanks to:
I ragazzi del FabLab di Mantova
Lo staff di Palazzo Te che ha fatto il turno dalle 19 all’1 del mattino per la gigapixel per tre giorni di fila