Sara Shmueli - Obelisks from the Patronage of Sixtus V


The papacy of Sixtus V (1585-1590) placed artistic commissions and urbanization projects on the forefront, to establish Rome as Caput Mundi and as the center of Catholicism. Among the most common of his projects includes the reinstallation of obelisks from ancient Egypt as well as the incorporation of obelisks in commissions, specifically Acqua Felice. Despite being pagan in substance, obelisks were appropriated by Sixtus V as symbols of Catholic power, aligning the Church with the Egyptian empire. An obelisk was as much of a statement piece as a landmark. Placed in key locations across Rome, such as in front of churches or as the focal point of a piazza, the reinstallation and usage of such objects in key locations in the city functioned as a means of staking claims in Rome.

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