Medusa's Gaze: The Extraordinary Journey of the Tazza Farnese

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Oxford University Press, 2012 - Art - 292 pages
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The Tazza Farnese is one of the most admired objects from classical antiquity. A libation bowl carved from banded agate, it features Medusa's head on its outside and, inside, an assembly of Egyptian gods. For more than two millennia, these radiant figures have mesmerized emperors and artists, popes and thieves, merchants and museum goers.

In this, the first book-length account of this renowned masterpiece, Marina Belozerskaya traces its fascinating journey through history. That it has survived at all is a miracle. The Tazza's origins date back to Ptolemaic Egypt where it likely enhanced the power and prestige of Cleopatra. After her defeat by Emperor Augustus, the bowl began an amazing itinerary along many flashpoints in world history. It likely traveled from Rome to Constantinople. After that city's sack by crusaders in 1204, it returned west to inspire the classical revival at the court of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II at Palermo. The Tazza next graced Tamerlane's court at Samarqand, before becoming an obsession of Renaissance popes and princes. It witnessed the rediscovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the turbulent aftermath of the French Revolution, and the birth of the modern Italian state. Throughout its journey, the Tazza aroused the lust of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Mongol rulers, consoled a heart-broken duchess, inspired artists including Botticelli and Raphael, tempted spies and thieves, and drew the ire of a deranged museum guard who nearly destroyed it. More than a biography of the world's most cherished bowl, Medusa's Gaze is a vivid and delightful voyage through history.
  

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Medusa’s Gaze: The Extraordinary Journey of the Tazza Farnese

User Review  - Sue White - Book Verdict

Called the largest existing cameo in the world by its owner, the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, Italy, the 22-centimeter Tazza Farnese may have taken master carvers more than two years to ... Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
3
CLEOPATRAS ARTIFICE
8
GEM MANIA IN ROME
31
THE PAST ACQUIRED REVIVED AND RANSACKED
47
A LARGE DISH OF ONYX IN THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE
71
TIMUR WORLD CONQUEROR AND CONNOISSEUR
87
RENAISSANCE COLLECTORS AND THIEVES
116
IN WOMENS HANDS
152
GEMS AND RUINS IN BOURBON NAPLES
181
THE NIGHT WATCHMAN
215
Notes
227
Bibliography
253
Index
275
Copyright

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About the author (2012)


Marina Belozerskaya is a cultural historian whose previous books include To Wake the Dead, The Medici Giraffe, The Arts of Tuscany, Luxury Arts of the Renaissance, and Rethinking the Renaissance: Burgundian Arts Across Europe.

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