Puttin’ on The Fitz: Exploring the Fitzwilliam Museum

When I told my friend Imogen that I wanted to visit Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum, she chuckled quietly to herself. “I’m glad you picked that one to visit,” she said “there’s something in there I want to show you…” she continued enigmatically. So, to the Fitz we went, with Imogen leading the way. Alas, we were denied the treat of seeing the museum’s portico’ed frontage due to building works, but the temporary wooden walls used to screen the sight of the works formed a near-secret tunnel to the museum. This secret tunnel made the entrance hall all the more spectacular.

The Fitzwillam Museum entrance hall
The Fitzwillam Museum entrance hall

(It was only after we had entered that we realised there was an alternative entrance to the side but that one lacked any sense of mystery and adventure. Oh well.)

After getting a quick bite to eat in the cafΓ©, Imogen led me upstairs through the painting galleries; the rooms were just as interesting as the artworks they display. I love it when that happens.

galleries at the Fitzwilliam Museum
galleries at the Fitzwilliam Museum

It wasn’t long until Imogen reached the piece she wanted me to see.

“Look at it,” she said.

“Look at what – oh,” came my reply.

Dominating the painting (a Titian, this one to be specific) was the spitting image of Imogen’s boyfriend. The resemblance was utterly uncanny. This was no passing likeness, reader, the very image of him was leering above us as Tarquin about to have his wicked way with Lucretia. The effect was a trifle unsettling, to say the least, but it made the painting utterly fascinating. Alas, there wasn’t a postcard version available in the gift shop. Sad times.

After that, we wandered around the rest of the museum. Imogen was particularly taken with the Egyptian section. I had a fondness for this:

A Bust of Antinous
A Bust of Antinous

A bust of that infamous hottie from history, Antinous (lover of Hadrian). I’m a little bit enamored with the long-dead demi-god myself, and have created a Pinterest board dedicated to him.Β Feel free to give it a follow if you’re so inclined.

The Fitz has a fantastic collection, even if sometimes the objects’ labels veer on the side of pretentious (“For crying out loud” Imogen and I exclaimed quietly to each other in one of the galleries, “Why can’t they just say it’s a milk jug? IT’S SHAPED LIKED A COW! WHAT ELSE COULD IT BE?”). I’d like to go back when the building work is finished.

I’ve managed to find an old badge from the Fitzwilliam, and you can see it over at the Museum of Museum Badges.

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