A report arose on April 18, 1485, that the corpse of a young Roman lady of the classical period--wonderfully beautiful and in perfect preservation--had been discovered. Some Lombard masons digging out an ancient tomb on an estate of the convent of Santa Maria Nuova, on the Appian Way, beyond the tomb of Caecilia Metella, were said to have found a marble sarcophagus with the inscription: 'Julia, daughter of Claudius.' On this basis the following story was built. The Lombards disappeared with the jewels and treasure which were found with the corpse in the sarcophagus. The body had been coated with an antiseptic essence, and was as fresh and flexible as that of a girl of fifteen the hour after death. It was said that she still kept the colors of life, with eyes and mouth half open. She was taken to the palace of the 'Conservatori' on the Capitol; and then a pilgrimage to see her began. Among the crowd were many who came to paint her; 'for she was more beautiful than can be said or written, and, were it said or written, it would not be believed by those who had not seen her.' By order of Innocent VIII she was secretly buried one night outside the Pincian Gate; the empty sarcophagus remained in the court of the 'Conservatori.' Probably a colored mask of wax or some other material was modelled in the classical style on the face of the corpse, with which the gilded hair of which we read would harmonize admirably. The touching point in the story is not the fact itself, but the firm belief that an ancient body, which was now thought to be at last really before men's eyes, must of necessity be far more beautiful than anything of modern date.Jacob Burckhardt (1818-1897), The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (Die Geschichte der Renaissance in Italien, 1867), tradução de S.G.C. Middlemore, Londres, 1878.
Meanwhile the material knowledge of old Rome was increased by excavations.
- "Histoire de l'Art, Histoire de Fantômes. Renaissance et Survivance, de Buckhardt à Warburg" in Véronique Mauron, Claire de Ribaupierre, Le Corps Évanui. Les Images Subites, Lausanne, Hazan, 1999, pp. 60-71.
- "L'Image Matière. Poussière, Ordure, Saleté, Sculpture au XVIe Siècle", L'Inactuel, nº 6, Automne 1996, pp. 63-81.
Para pensar a relação entre o museu e o mausoléu (o museu e a morte), consulte-se Douglas Crimp, "On the Museum's Ruins", October, nº 13, 1980, pp. 41-57. Existe no C.D. do Ar.Co com a cota P XVII 01. O artigo seria incluído no já famoso volume homónimo (On the Museum's Ruins, Cambridge(MA)-London, The MIT Press, 1993), também existente no C.D. (com a cota 15 CRI 01).
Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), "Cristo no Sepulcro", c. 1488, têmpera sobre madeira, 21 x 41 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florença