Borghese Gallery Rome

The Casino Borghese was built by wishes of cardinal Scipione Borghese Caffarelli by the architects Giovanni Vasanzio and Flaminio Ponzio

The authors of the age often describe with admiration the richness of the villa and also the remarkable collection of statues and paintings housed in the building. The artistic collection of the original villa was increased and enriched, through the years, mostly in the beginning of the XIX cent. when the Duca Marcantonio Borghese began excavations in the territories possession of the family, during which numerous ancient statues were found. In addition to this many princes and nobles, who wished to contribute to the fame of the collection, offered important works of art. Although, in the beginning of the XIX cent., the collection suffered a considerable loss because of the wedding that occurred in 1803 between the Duca Camillo Borghese and Napoleon’s sister, Paolina Bonaparte, woman of renowned beauty. In this occasion the Emperor persuaded his brother-in-law to “offer” some pieces to the Louvre of Paris.

The workpiece of the Rape of Proserpina is also a creation of young Bernini. In these two figures, beyond the movement of the terrified young virgin, the technical elaboration of the marble is extraordinary: the hand, that tightens the thigh, touches warm and soft flesh of woman. Under the marble surface one almost feels the pulsation of the blood and any single vibration of the nerves in the expression of fear. This same reality and pulsing life characterizes also the group of “Apollo and Daphne” in which the artist depicts the very moment in which the beautiful Daphne, pursued by God Apollo, is turned into a laurel tree. We see the process of the sudden transformation, bark covers most of her body and on her hands, raised up, the branches of laurel wave already. The are no traces of this restless world in the works of Canova, who lived a century later.

The leaning figure of the “Venus Victrix” represents beautiful duchess Borghese and reveals the infuence of Neoclassic style. This new style aimed at freeing art from the restless and exaggerated movement of the baroque, in order to return to the tranquillity and stillness of Ancient times. Therefore Canova represents in Paolina, a cold and more than precise beauty. On the first floor are housed also works by Caravaggio as the “Madonna of the Palafrenieri”, in which he paints real persons in ancient history. David with the head of Golia, painted in 1610, year of Caravaggio’s death, that prophetically represents himself in the features of the giant’s head. Bacchino Malato (Young Bacchus ill), is again a self-portrait rich in ominous symbolisms. St. Jerome, wrapped in a bright red cloak, strangely familiar with the cardinal’s purple, a clear homage to cardinal Scipione Borghese. The picture gallery is extremely important because here the different schools of the Renaissance and the Italian and foreign Baroque are represented with excellent works. Among the great pieces the ”Deposition of Christ” by Raphael executed in 1507. Commissioned by princess Atalanta Baglioni, in memory of her prematurely dead son. Another excellent work is the “Danae” by Correggio, master of Parma in the years between 1530-32, “Sacred and Profane Love” by Titian, one of the most precious paintings in the world, that the Venetian artist painted when he was young.

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