Rome and the Barbarians: The birth of a new World – Palazzo Grassi Venice

A genuine cultural event of historical, artistic, archeological, social and political significance. With over 1700 exhibits, the show covers nearly a thousand years of history, from Caesar’s campaigns to the dawn of the second millennium, offering a new outlook on that period according to which the Barbarian people were wreaking violence and devastation, but also in developing exchanges, sharing and integrating with Roman Empire.


The exhibition, or rather this voyage through history, opens with the triumph of Rome over the Barbarians, shown by the famous sarcophagus of Portonaccio, with the high-relief depiction of warriors and prisoners. It is followed by portraits of emperors, including the precious 22-karat gold bust of Marcus Aurelius coming from Avenches, Switzerland (one of three Roman busts of Aurelius which had escaped remelting); the Derune Helmet (320 B.C.) made of gilt silver and iron; the Claudius Table, made of bronze; the refined golden Casket of Teudericus, an example of cloisonné goldsmithery; Hannibal’s Plate, a masterpiece of metallurgical art; Queen bathild’s frock, worn after her vow to live with the poor. The turn of the millennium is represented by the diptych of Rambona, and by the she-wolf with the twins under the crucifixion, symbol of the dominion of Christ over Rome.


The exhibition, curated by Jean-Jacques Aillagon and product of Palazzo Grassi’s collaboration with the Ecole Francaise de Rome and the Kunst und Ausstellungshalle of Bonn, was made possible thanks to articles offered on loan by over 200 museums and other institutes from 23 countries around the world.


Rome and the Barbarians will be on at Palazzo Grassi Venice through July 20