A dazzling biography of the Eternal City - 'A tour of the great city with a great guide: who could do this better?' EVENING STANDARD.
For almost a thousand years, Rome held sway as the spiritual and artistic centre of the world. Hughes vividly recreates the ancient Rome of Julius Caesar, Marcus Aurelius, Nero, Caligula, Cicero, Martial and Virgil. With the artistic blossoming of the Renaissance, he casts his unwavering critical eye over the great works of Raphael, Michelangelo and Brunelleschi, shedding new light on the Old Masters. In the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when Rome's cultural predominance was assured, artists and tourists from all over Europe converged on the city. Hughes brilliantly analyses the defining works of Caravaggio, Velasquez, Rubens and Bernini.
Hughes' Rome is a vibrant, contradictory, spectacular and secretive place; a monument both to human glory and human error. In equal parts loving, iconoclastic, enraged and wise, peopled with colourful figures and rich in unexpected details, ROME is an exhilarating journey through the story of one of the world's most glorious cities.
With elegance and beauty, Hughes, who for three decades was Time's chief art critic, majestically conducts us through the rich history of Rome, a city he discovered as a young man, which for him gave physical form to the ideal of art and "turned art, and history, into reality. From its foundation to the modern world, Hughes points out the wealth of Rome's art and its influence on Roman history. For example, propaganda statues in ancient Rome perpetuated the power of leaders; the statue of the emperor Augustus, for instance, has few equals as an image of "calm, self-sufficient power. Hughes characterizes 19th-century Rome as a movement between orthodoxy and modernism, and reflects artists' commitment to or rejection of Italian unification. During this period, Rome was also swarming with foreign artists, notably a group of young Germans dubbed the Nazarenes for their demonstrative piety. Hughes bemoans the rampant tourism that has turned Rome into a kind of Disney World for the art set; yet the glories of the past remain. In a delightful guide, Hughes whose The Shock of the New was recently named by Britain's Guardian one of the 100 greatest nonfiction books of the 20th century provides a sometimes cantankerous but always captivating tour through the remarkable depth and breadth of the ancient city.