The Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are the museums of the Vatican City located within the city’s borders. The collection of modern religious art in the museum have enthralled millions for centuries now. Comically referred to as “the rooms full of papally collected or commissioned art that you have to schlep through to get to the Sistine Chapel,” Musei Vaticani is actually a favourite inspiration of mine believe it or not.

The origins of the Musei Vaticani trace back to one marble sculpture, purchased 500 years ago: The sculpture of Laocoön and his Sons, discovered on the 14 January 1506, in a vineyard near the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. After sending Giuliano da Sangallo and Michelangelo Buonarroti, who were working at the Vatican at the time to examine the discovery, Pope Julius II immediately purchased the sculpture from the vineyard owner. Subsequently the pope decided to put the sculpture of Laocoön and his sons on public display at the Vatican exactly one month after its discovery, and as they say, the rest is history.

Interestingly enough some of the artists that help decorate and fill the halls of the museum with their art, such as Michaelangelo and Raphael, would visit Florence’s Uffizi Gallery “for beauty, for work and for recreation” – arguably, the Uffizi was one of their own inspirations. The gallery is one of the best in the world after all. Its where some of the work of great artists from the Italian Renaissance are found, with a large portion of the masterpieces owned by *the Medici family.

The Collection of Modern Religious Art of the Vatican Museums houses paintings and sculptures from artists like Carlo Carrà and Giorgio de Chirico. In the 20th and 21st century art lovers have visited Italy to witness the most renowned classical sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art. Other great names to have portraits in these museums are Leonardo da Vinci , Fra Angelico, Giotto, Nicolas Poussin and Titian.

Its these same walls which have greatly influenced fashion today, particularly the gothic urban look that has emerged within hip hop culture, with the original architect of this design being Riccardo Tisci. In all honesty the designer’s apparent need to insist on the repetition of motifs and silhouettes since his first revolutionary gothic menswear collection has proven somewhat arid to me of late. But regardless, the beauty of his inspirations, like mine, can only be admired.

*The House of Medici was a political dynasty, banking family and later royal house that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de’ Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. The family originated in the Mugello region of the Tuscan countryside, gradually rising until they were able to found the Medici Bank. The bank was the largest in Europe during the 15th century, seeing the Medici gain political power in Florence — though officially they remained simply citizens rather than monarchs.

-Written by Jonathan Lubala and Hlumelo Ntsokolo