Galleria Borghese, Rome
The Galleria Borghese in Rome is a famous museum of fine arts, with pieces dating from Antiquity to the 18th century, located in the Villa Borghese Gardens.
History, building, and site
Completed in 1613 after a design by architect Flaminio Ponzio, the Villa was founded by the powerful Cardinal Scipione Borghese on the Pincian hill, just outside the ancient Aurelian walls of Rome, as the centerpiece of an ensemble of gardens, orchards, game preserve, and buildings now collectively known as the Villa Borghese Gardens. It must be noted that, at the time of its construction, the Villa was a sort of “country estate” on the outskirts of Rome, rather than being in a central urban area like it is today. The main seat of the family was indeed a large palace situated in heart of the city, not far from the Ara Pacis museum.
The Villa was conceived as a venue for the large art collection of the Cardinal Borghese, it was not a museum in a modern sense, since it was not open to the public, but rather a private art gallery for members and guests of the Borghese family.
Sold to the Italian Government in 1901, together with its entire collection, the Galleria Borghese is today a public-owned museum and one of the most popular cultural attractions in Rome.
The art collection
The permanent collection of the Galleria is composed of several masterpieces, including ancient Roman statues and mosaics; sculptures by Bernini and Canova; paintings by Antonello da Messina, Correggio, Titian, Raphael (including the “Lady with Unicorn”, 1505 and “The Deposition”, 1507), Caravaggio (including the famous “Boy with A Basket of Fruit”, 1593 and the “Sick Bacchus”), and Peter Paul Rubens, among others.
The Villa Borghese can be easily accessed from Piazza del Popolo or from the metro station Flaminio. Visits must be booked in advance (you can do it by phone or from the museum’s website). A walk in the gorgeous gardens surrounding the Galleria is also highly recommended.
Galleria Borghese, interior view; photo by David Macchi (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
Photo by Daryl Mitchell (CC BY-SA 2.0).
Caravaggio, “Saint Jerome Writing” 1605-1606, Galleria Borghese, Rome; photo Sergei Mutovkin (CC BY-NC 2.0).
Cover image: exterior view of the Galleria Borghese in Rome; photo © Inexhibit 2015
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