Borghese Museum and Gallery evening tour organized by AICR.
HISTORY OF THE BORGHESE GALLERY
The Borghese Gallery is an art gallery located in Villa Borghese, a large park in the center of Rome. There’s a permanent display of highlights from the Borghese collection, including paintings, sculptures, and Roman antiquities, and there are occasional temporary exhibitions. The gallery is best-known for its collection of Bernini statues on the ground floor, including Apollo and Daphne, the Rape of Proserpina and Aeneas, Anchises & Ascanius. There are also numerous paintings by Bellini, Raphael, Titian, Rubens, and Caravaggio.
The extraordinary collection of the Borghese Gallery is the result of one man’s obsession. Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1577-1633) was the pope’s personal secretary, a patron of Caravaggio, and an avid collector of Bernini’s sculptures. He was wealthy, powerful, and utterly ruthless, stopping at nothing to get his hands on a work of art. He would imprison artists in order to steal their work, and even had Raphael’s Deposition removed from an altar in Perugia, so it could be displayed in his own home. Scipione Borghese was essentially the mastermind behind the villa (now the Borghese Gallery) and the surrounding gardens. The house was intended to be used as a “party villa”, a location for extravagant events, and homoerotic liaisons that scandalized his contemporaries. It was also the ideal place for showing off his art collection, and visitors were duly impressed. The English writer John Evelyn, visiting in 1644, described the house and gardens as “an Elysium of delight”. In the early 19th century the villa lost two of its greatest works – the Borghese Gladiator and the Borghese Hermaphroditus – when they were sold to Napoleon. They remain in France, on display at the Louvre. The villa became the Borghese Gallery in 1903, making the cardinal’s art collection and gardens accessible to the public at last.
The Borghese Hermaphroditus, now at the Louvre Museum, once property of the Borghese Gallery
FACTS ABOUT THE BORGHESE GALLERY
- The Borghese Museum and Gallery were built in the 17th century, and before it became a public art gallery, it was the private home of Scipione Borghese, located in what was then the outskirts of Rome. The gardens were once home to ostriches and peacocks.
- The gallery has the greatest collection of works by Bernini in Rome. As well as famous masterpieces such as Apollo and Daphne, you can also see the earliest known work by the sculptor, The Goat Amalthea with the Infant Jupiter and a Faun. According to some estimates, Bernini was in his early teens when he produced his first sculpture. There are numerous classical antiquities on display, including a Roman mosaic of gladiators that was excavated on another Borghese estate, just outside of Rome.
Spaces are sold out!
When: Saturday, November 10th
Where: Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5, 00197 Roma. Meet at the museum entrance.
Donation: €40 per person
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Bookings are closed for this event.