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Museo e Galleria Borghese

Lonely Planet Rome, 10th edition

THE 10TH EDITION of Lonely Planet Rome calls the Museo e Galleria Borghese “the greatest gallery you’ve never heard of” and says “if you only have the time or inclination for one art gallery in Rome, make it this one.”

The collection didn’t go on public display until 1997, but has existed since the 17th century when Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1579-1633), “the most knowledgeable and ruthless art collector of his day,” assembled it.

He housed it in his new villa’s central building, the Casino Borghese. A great deal of Neoclassical remodelling was done to the villa in the late 1700s and in Napoleon’s day much of its antique statuary was taken to Paris and the Louvre, but it still has “the best baroque sculpture in town and some seriously good Old Masters,” says the guidebook.

In particular there’s “a series of sensational sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini [1598-1680],” one of several artists whose career the cardinal helped to prosper. Among the painters assisted by Borghese was the brilliant but combustible Caravaggio (1571-1610). His works are in Sala VIII, including what’s probably his last work, San Giovanni Battista (1609-10).

In the upstairs picture gallery are works by Raphael (La Deposizione, 1507), Rubens (Susanna e I Vecchioni, 1605-07) and Titian, whose early masterpiece Amor Sacro e Amor Profano (1514) “is one of the collection’s prized works.”

Because the museum is in northern Rome it’s less crowded than many of the city’s sights, but it limits its admissions so you need to book ahead. Visit the museum’s website for more information: www.galleriaborghese.it.

When you’re done with art there’s the Villa Borghese’s 80 hectares of gardens and wooded glades to wander in.

 

www.lonelyplanet.com

 

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