The colours of Rome

Palazzo Massimo illustrates all the vivid colours that the Romans, like the Greeks, loved to use to celebrate the traits of the important figures of their time and to decorate their homes. The bronze statue of the Boxer at Rest still shows the traces of red copper used to illustrate his wounds. Traces of purple, the imperial colour par excellence, are visible on the toga and base of the statue of Augustus as Pontefix Maximus, while gold covers the heroic face of Alexander the Great.

But the colours used in ancient times can be felt most strongly walking through the rooms on the second floor, where visitors can immerse themselves in the lush garden of the Villa di Livia or stroll through the beautiful rooms of the Villa Farnesina. Using pictures, stuccoes and mosaics, these rooms reveal the everyday spaces of an imperial mansion. And so do the numerous mosaic floors, found in the representational spaces of large houses and villas, illustrating the themes used to decorate these residences: victorious athletes, images of distant Egypt, and depictions of seasons, elements of the cosmos and the gods themselves.