Featuring a rare exhibition of ancient Roman art organized by China and Italy, the “Light of Ancient Roman Civilization” opened at Beijing World Art Museum. The event showcases remarkable finds, including a marble statue of the “Leaning” Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty, dating back to the second century. Alongside Italy’s National Archaeological Museum of Naples (MANN) collection, Florence’s Uffizi Gallery contributes 50 self-portrait paintings displayed at the National Museum of China.
With 69 Italian works exhibited, the hall comes alive with the presence of mythical sculptures like Aphrodite and Dionysus, accompanied by a live performance of Bach’s prelude. Dating from the first and second centuries, these artworks embody the essence of Greco-Roman philosophy, shaping Western art’s principles and aesthetics during that era. In addition to sculptures, the exhibition presents Pompeii frescoes, mosaics, and intriguing everyday objects, offering a glimpse into ancient European lifestyles.
While these relics represent only a fraction of MANN’s extensive collection, they symbolize the rich historical era coinciding with China’s Han Dynasty. The Beijing exhibition strives to highlight the “different but comparable aspects of Roman society” and draw parallels with Chinese civilization, fostering a sense of connection that transcends space and time.
Paolo Giulierini, director of MANN, envisions reciprocal understanding between Italian and Chinese cultures, emphasizing the importance of museums as non-political spaces for cultural exchange. Integrating digital technology, MANN has developed a Chinese video game to enhance the visitor experience and showcase the museum’s collections and history. Similarly, Italy has embraced digital technology to restore ancient art, expressing a desire to collaborate with China in recreating virtual reality representations of ancient buildings and sculptures.
The opening ceremony witnessed the presence of Massimo Ambrosetti, the Italian Ambassador to China, who emphasized the significance of understanding the civilizations behind the artworks. He highlighted the longstanding tradition of cultural exchange between China and Italy, referencing historical figures such as Marco Polo and Matteo Ricci. The “Light of Ancient Roman Civilization” exhibition adds to a series of cultural exchanges that have been taking place between the two countries for decades, showcasing the enduring partnership between China and Italy.