museum review - Galleria Borghese I Borghese e l’antico
Written by Oryx
For the first time in nearly 200 years, 65 artworks will return to the Galleria Borghese in Rome, making up the centrepieces of the I Borghese e l’antico exhibition.
More than two centuries after Napoleon Bonaparte acquired a number of sculptures from the Villa Borghese in order to add them to the collection of the Louvre in Paris, the works of art have returned to Rome for an exhibition in the Galleria Borghese.
Marking the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, the exhibition celebrates Italian artistic and historical heritage. Now part of the core collection of antiquities in the Louvre Museum in Paris (there is a Borghese wing at the Louvre), the Borghese Collection contains some of the most important masterpieces of ancient art.
Sixty-five pieces can be admired during the exhibition, some of which are world-famous, such as the Borghese Vase, with Dionysiac scenes; the Sleeping Hermaphrodite – a 1st century Roman sculpture later restored by Bernini; the Portrait of Lucio Vero; Silenus and the infant Bacchus; The Three Graces; and the famous Centaur ridden by Love that has previously never left the Paris Museum.
Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the wealthy nephew of Pope Paul V, built the collection of sculptures and vases, and the magnificent building to house them, in the 17th century. A descendant of the Cardinal, Camillo Borghese, was married to Napoleon’s sister, Pauline Bonaparte, and in 1807 Napoleon acquired some 695 ancient statues from the Borghese family collection.
More than just a return to their original home, the pieces of art have been faithfully displayed in their original location within the gallery using 18th and 19th century drawings and texts as references.
Anna Colliva, Director of the Galleria Borghese, says: “I feel very excited, because what we used to study has now become a reality. The art pieces have their original colour, setting, décor, and even meaning, because each piece remained within its own iconographic context. So the statue that was dedicated for a room, gives the room life. Even the marble colours and decorations were chosen to connect the floor colour with the statue.”
The 65 pieces that make up this spectacular collection have been loaned by the Louvre Museum in Paris, and will be on display until April 9, 2012.
Villa Borghese Gardens
The greater area of Villa Borghese includes vast gardens filled with fountains, monuments, and diverse flora. Giardini segreti (secret gardens) are part of Villa Borghese; called ‘secret’ because they were private and for exclusive use of the owner. One is the citrusy ‘Garden of Bitter Oranges’; the second, ‘The Flower Garden’, a beautifully laid out formal garden; and a third secret garden stretches in front of the aviary, accompanied by the Meridiana (sundial) mansion.