A Curious Image of a Carthusian Monk
Museo Nazionale Romano (Baths of Diocletian)
The Museo Nazionale Romano, the national collection of ancient Roman art, was founded in 1889 in the halls of the ancient Baths of Diocletian. The collection is also housed in the two 16th century cloisters that were once part of a Carthusian monastery.
In a doorway of the Great Cloister, traditionally ascribed to Michelangelo, there is an amusing trompe l'oeil painting of a Carthusian monk (1855), the work of Filippo Balbi (1806-90). The monk, whose name is Fra Fercoldo, points to his son, who became Pope Clement IV (r. 1265-68).
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My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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