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"Women of Rome: Seductive, Maternal, Excessive" on view at CaixaForum Madrid
The purpose behind the exhibitions that ”la Caixa” Foundation devotes to the field of archaeology and history is to enable audiences to discover the ways in which men and women from different places and periods have attempted to resolve the great universal questions, and to broaden our understanding of the world through knowledge of the most recent historical and archaeological researches.



MADRID.- CaixaForum Madrid is presenting the exhibition Women of Rome. Seductive, Maternal, Excessive. Collections of the Louvre Museum.

This is an exceptional archaeological exhibition devoted to the image of women in Roman domestic decorations, based on works from the collections of the Louvre Museum. Women of Rome… is organised within the framework of ”la Caixa” Foundation’s mission of presenting shows devoted to the great cultures of the past.

The purpose behind the exhibitions that ”la Caixa” Foundation devotes to the field of archaeology and history is to enable audiences to discover the ways in which men and women from different places and periods have attempted to resolve the great universal questions, and to broaden our understanding of the world through knowledge of the most recent historical and archaeological researches. The complexity of cultures from the past helps us to understand the complexity of today’s world; the diversity of ancient peoples, the diversity in the society of our own time.

Rome is amongst the ancient cultures that occupy a prominent position in the organisation’s programme of activities. This is partly because, unlike others that are very distant from us in both time and space, Roman civilisation developed in the very same places that we inhabit today. That is why, through initiatives such as the exhibition Romanorum Vita, which has been travelling throughout Spain for the last four years, ”la Caixa” Foundation seeks to illustrate, not only what Imperial Rome was like, but also the everyday life of our ancestors, presenting the findings of archaeologists and historians.

A multi-layered reading of images linked to the world of women
This new project devoted to Rome, organised in cooperation with the Louvre Museum, focuses on the role of women in Roman society. The show, which traces an exhaustive route through the subject, proposes a multifaceted look at images associated with the female world in this ancient civilisation.

Women played an eminent role in Rome compared to other ancient societies. There was some evolution of women’s status in Roman society, something that could be seen, not only in customs, but also in the prevailing mentality, as well as in representations and domestic decoration. The evolution of the general outlook generated a contradiction between a traditional, aristocratic image and the reality of a society in which women were beginning to become emancipated and in which their achievements allowed them to surpass their ancestral role. The relatively privileged status of women in Rome was translated into different representations of them, seen through the prism of religion and mythology and the vis materna, and in the allegory of seduction and excess.

Roman women were at the same time the object of love and fear, desire and scorn. Despite the subordinate role – basically as mothers and wives – that they played in accordance with laws and customs, women occupied a prominent place in representations, often mythological, created for decoration; from the spiritual inspiration of the Muses to Venus, the very image of beauty and seduction; from virtuous Minerva and Diana, firm champions of virginity and purity, to the monstrous Gorgons and Sirens; from life-giving women, personified by natural forces and the cycles, to the agents of terrible tragedies and unhappy disasters, like Medea and Pasiphae.

An exhibition featuring 178 pieces, including 47 restored especially for the occasion
Women of Rome. Seductive, Maternal, Excessive features 178 Roman pieces of the highest quality from the collections of the Louvre Museum. These works, which represent women, goddesses and mythological beings, place the focus on what was closest to Roman women: the domestic decoration that surrounded them and the objects that accompanied them in their everyday lives.

The exhibition project was generated by the desire to study, restore and disseminate the collections of mural painting and architectural terracotta plaques conserved by the Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities at the Louvre Museum. Accordingly, particularly outstanding amongst the works selected are the series of mural paintings from Pompeii and the so-called “Campana tiles”, some thirty terracotta reliefs recently restored thanks to the cooperation agreement between ”la Caixa” Foundation and the Louvre Museum. These reliefs will be on show for the first time at the CaixaForum centres at which this travelling exhibition is presented.

Besides the mural paintings and the terracotta plaques, the exhibition also features other outstanding pieces, such as many marble sculptures and busts, mosaics and everyday objects: from oil bells to candle-holders, mirrors, hairpins and cameos, as well as several pieces of jewellery.

As usual in exhibitions organised by ”la Caixa” Foundation, the project includes the publication of a catalogue containing descriptions of all the major scientific contributions that made it possible, as well as several essays by international experts.










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