Despite the family name, Borghese taste was anything but bourgeois.
The exquisitely cultivated Scipione not only advised his uncle Paul V on artistic matters, but with papal pin money amassed one of the world’s greatest private collections of sculpture and paintings. Later members of the family added to the collection, much of which has landed in the Louvre, thanks to Prince Camillo Borghese, who donated or sold a large portion of it to his brother in law Napoleon.
The Italian State purchased what remained in 1902.
The ground floor stars the Borghese’s marble men and marble women; Scipione was the first to discover precocious talent of Gianlorenzo Bernini, and the sculptor produced many of his earliest works for the cardinal. These statuary groups of mythological subjects date from the early 1620s, before Bernini got religion, and they break new ground, for better or worse, in the contriyed drama of their virtuoso figura serpentine poses, each portrayed in the most intense climactic moments of their stories. Looking at them, you may think, as many have before you, that Bernini was the Michelangelo of the day. The sanctuary in each room lent its theme to the grand 18th-century decor of Prince Marcantonio, who had a weakness for brightly colored, mildly trompe l’oeil ceiling frescos. The rooms are prominently numbered, and begin with the most notorious Room I where Canova’s sculpture of Pauline Bonaparte Borghese as Venus under a ceiling portraying the Judgement of Paris. When asked by an acquaintance however she could have posed nearly naked, Pauline replied that it wasn’t so hard because the artist had a furnace in his studio. Although serenely neoclassical, Napoleon’s sister is one of Rome’s spicier tomatoes (she had the statue made shortly after marrying Prince Camillo Borghese to please him); but as saucy as she was, she was minute-the statue is life sized . Connoisseurs may want to compare her breasts with the cast in the Napoleon Museum.
In Room II Bernini’s David is about to discharge his loaded sling, though his set look of determination is mocked by the playful putti of the ceiling frescoes.
Room III is designed around another hot piece of marble, Bernini’s Daphne and Apollo, the former in the act of turning into a laurel tree to avoid the embraces of the god.
Room IV the large Sala degli Imperatori a chilly cynosure of 18th-century design, the 17th-century alabaster and porphyry busts of the emperors in perfect chromatic accord with the precious marbles of the floor, pillars, and ceiling, all looking icily at Bernini’s Rape of Proserpina, the goddess struggling in Pluto’s arms, though perhaps not as desperately as she might have done.
Room V contains a replica of the famous Hellenistic Hermaphrodite, the inspiration of the Hermaphrodite Room.
Room VI features Aeneas and Anchises, Carved by young Bernini with his father Pietro; Aeneas is carrying his father out of burning Troy, while the older man clutches the Palladium.
The Egyptian room, Room VII is actually built around an archaic Greek statue of a young girl.
Room VIII contains the gallery’s finest ancient sculpture, the dancing Faun, restored by Thorvaldsen.
Beyond this is the Salone, crowned by a fresco of Marcus Furius Camillus breaking the treaty with the Gauls and a relief of Marco Curzio leaping the abyss. Set into the floor are rather grisly 3rd-century AD mosaics of gladiatorial scenes from Torronuova. There’s a bar in the adjacent portico if you need liquid support at this point.
Sometime, somehow, the treasure trove of paintings upstairs will reopen. Among the celebrated works are Raphael’s Manneristic Deposition , inspirited by Leonardo and Michelangelo and filched with papal aid from a church in Perugia; also his Lady and the Unicorn, believed to a portrait of his financeè Maddalena Strozzi; Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love, the beautifully coloured , ambiguous masterpiece of his youth, in which the two women have the same face; Correggio’s melting, erotic Danae; Madonnas by Giovanni Bellini, Perugino, Piero di Cosimo and Caravaggio (the latter with a serpent); here too, is one of his most important early works, the Boy with a Fruit Basket and David with Goliath’s head.
There are excellent portraits by two masters of the genre, Lorenzo Lotto and Antonello da Messina, whose Italian gentlemen is a prototype of the genre; and Dosso Dossi’s mysterious Circe, contemplating her next spell.
Among the sculpture, don’t miss Bernini’s portrait busts of cardinal Scipione Borghese and Paul V, and his model for the curly flowing equestrian statue of Louis XIV, and Algardi’s statue of Sleep-aslumbering boy with a sleepy dormouse.
OFFICIAL TOUR OF BORGHESE GALLERY
Book your tour of Borghese Gallery and skip the line: take advantage of jumping the queue with reserved tickets and enjoy your Borghese Gallery guided tour
The reopening to the public of the Borghese Gallery, has been greeted as the most important event which has taken place in the art world in recent years.
This museum houses the personal collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, Pope Paul V’s nephew, a preeminent personality in his time, with a great passion for art and with the means to accomplish his projects.
The Gallery is immersed in Rome’s most beautiful park, close to the city’s historical center.
The Borghese Gallery has maintained its prestige and its works of art are exposed today as they were in the past: furniture, paintings and sculptures.
It is one of Rome’s richest and most interesting villas, the Borghese Gallery and Museum houses a vast and diverse collection of sculptures and paintings produced by masters such as Bernini, Canova, Caravaggio and Titian.
Your guide will lead you through the gallery’s breathtaking rooms and reveal the secrets, stories and techniques behind the masterpieces.
Among the gallery’s paintings we will see Titian’s “Sacred and Profane Love”, Raphael’s “The Deposition” and “Young Woman with Unicorn”, Caravaggio’s “Madonna and Child with St. Anne” (Dei Palafrenieri) and “Saint Jerome Writing”.
We will admire sculptures such as Bernini’s “The Rape of Proserpina” and “Apollo and Daphne” and Canova’s “Pauline Bonaparte”.
In other words, don’t pass up this once in a lifetime opportunity to admire such masterpieces, for which we must be thankful to Cardinal Scipione Borghese’s foresight.
Then, only on request, you can go for an enchanting stroll though the Villa Borghese Gardens and enjoy the surprises and tranquility of this Eden in the heart of busy Rome.
The famous Villa Borghese is a truly magical setting, surrounded by vast gardens filled with fountains, monuments and diverse flora.
Itinerary in Borghese Gallery:
The Caravaggio Room (St. Jerome, David with the Head of Goliath)
Bernini sculptures (Apollo and Daphne, David)
Canova sculpture (Pauline Bonaparte)
Works by Raphael (The Deposition, Lady with Unicorn)
Perugino (Madonna and Child)
Rubens (The Deposition)
itian (Sacred and Profane Love)
Tours are conducted in small groups (maximum 25 people) or private tour (V.I.P. service) with an English-speaking tour guide.
[box type=”info” ]
INFORMATION TO VISIT BORGHESE GALLERY
The gallery is closed every Monday and is open from 9 AM to 7 PM.
This means you have five two hour time slots to choose from (you must leave the gallery at the end of your two hour period):
Walking tour of Villa Borghese Gardens available on request (Villa Borghese Gardens Casino dell’Uccelliera, Fontana dei Puppazzi, Piazza di Siena, Tempietto di Diana, Obelisco di Antonio and stunning view over Piazza del Popolo).
We are able to offer tours in a wide range of languages, should you wish to book a tour in a specific language (apart from English and Italian) please follow the relevant link below.
|2 pers.||3 pers.||4 pers.||5 pers.||6 pers.||7 pers.|
|100,00 €||75,00 €||60,00 €||52,00 €||46,00 €||42,00 €|
Include the above walking tour plus guide and tax.