Galleria Borghese

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The Villa Borghese Pinciana (begun 1605) houses the Galleria Borghese. (Photo by Mike Reed)

The Borghese Gallery (Italian: Galleria Borghese) is a former villa, the Villa Borghese Pinciana ("Borghese villa on the Pincio") in the eponymous park of the Villa Borghese in Rome. It houses a substantial collection of paintings, sculpture and antiquities begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V. The Villa was built by the architect Flaminio Ponzio, developing sketches by Scipione Borghese, who used it as a villa suburbana, a party villa, at the edge of Rome.

Many of the sculptures are displayed in the spaces they were intended for, including three early works commissioned by Scipione Borghese from Gian Lorenzo Bernini: Apollo and Daphne, Pluto and Proserpina and David. Napoleon Bonaparte's sister Pauline married into the Borghese family and Antonio Canova's half-nude portrait of her as Venus Victrix takes pride of place in one of the galleries. A famously controversial woman in her lifetime, when asked how she could pose for the sculptor wearing so little, she reputedly replied that there was a stove in the studio that kept her warm.

Aeneas flees burning Troy, Federico Barocci, 1598
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Aeneas flees burning Troy, Federico Barocci, 1598

Scipione Borghese was an avid collector of works by Caravaggio, who is well represented in the collection by his Boy with a Basket of Fruit, St. Jerome, Sick Bacchus and others. Other paintings of note include Titian's Sacred and Profane Love, Raphael's depiction of the Entombment of Christ and works by Peter Paul Rubens and Federico Barocci (illustration, left).

One of the joys of the Galleria Borghese is that it is so compact: it is housed in 20 rooms across two floors and a visit encompassing everything on display could take as little as two hours. The main floor, mostly devoted to sculpture and Roman antiquities of the 1st3rd centuries AD, has a consistently breathtaking decorative scheme. The trompe l'oeil ceiling fresco in the first room, or Salone, by the Sicilian artist Mariano Rossi makes such good use of foreshortening that it appears almost three-dimensional.

The Villa Borghese is home to two other museums, namely Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, which specialises in 19th- and 20th-century Italian art, and Museo Nazionale Etrusco, a collection of pre-Roman objects, mostly Etruscan, excavated around Rome.

External link

it:Galleria Borghese di Roma sv:Galleria Borghese

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