Exhibition: 28.2 - 1.6 2014
20 kilometers south of Rome, at a depth of 300 metres inside the crater of an extinct volcano, lies Lake Nemi. The lake and the surrounding mountain landscape make up one of the most beautiful areas of Italian countryside. Since antiquity, people have been drawn to the location by the combination of natural beauty, a fresh, cool climate and the lurking mystique of the depths of the lake.
In antiquity there was a great deal of activity around Lake Nemi. This was the location of a famous sanctuary dedicated to Diana, the Roman Goddess of Hunting, as well as a number of palatial villas, one of which belonged to Julius Caesar. Since ancient times the relics of this period of Roman greatness have fascinated, and, naturally, attracted travellers: artists, archaeologists and others interested in antiquity. Between 1929 and 1932 two colossal ships, dating from the reign of Emperor Caligula, were raised from the bottom of the lake. The ships had been fitted out as floating palaces with bathing facilities, marble columns and sumptuous ornamentation in bronze and marble. The Sanctuary of Diana, too, has aroused tremendous interest among successive generations. Since the 16th century people have excavated the Sanctuary in search of ancient artefacts, many of which were sold on the international art market. More recently a number of archaeological excavations have revealed even more of the Sanctuary and its history.
Some of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek’s finest marble sculptures actually come from the Sanctuary of Diana. In the special exhibition, Nemi – the Cult and the Splendour you can experience the many aspects of the cult, and, not least, the tremendous interest in the cult of Diana and its bloody priestly rituals, which fascinated and mystified people in the Renaissance and Danish Golden Age as much as they do today. The rituals have been described and depicted from the art and literature of the ancient world, by way of the English painter J.M.W. Turner in the 19th century, right up to the present-day promotion of Nemi as a popular tourist destination. You can also experience the story of Nemi’s floating palaces and see objects recovered from these vessels which have been kindly lent by the Musée du Louvre for this exhibition.
Bronze statuette of a female deity from around 350 BC.
From the Sanctuary of Diana at Nemi. H. 50 cm.
On loan from the Museé du Louvre