We cannot tell you the history of Galleria Borghese in Rome and its masterpieces without telling you aboutScipione Borghese. Son of the sister of Camillo Borghese, who became in 1605 Paul V, important nepotistic pope , Scipione was decreed Cardinal immediately after the election of his uncle, just two months after.
Scipione was only 26 years old and was entrusted several important tasks of responsibility: he was prefect of the Congregation of the Council, protector of churches, religious orders and regions, Grand Penitentiary, Archbishop of Bologna, and more. But despite all the heavy commitments he never gave up on his true passion: the art. He subsidized many talents such as Caravaggio, Bernini, Nicolas Cardier, Guido Reni, Domenichino and Rubens, and he was also famous and feared for the lack of scruples with which he got the artworks.
"If you don’t give me the painting, you’ll go to jail!” Thus was born Galleria Borghese
Domenichino was a victim of this ruthlessness and arrogance in 1616-17, when he was imprisoned for refusing to give to the Cardinalthe painting of Diana’s Hunt that was ordered by another cardinal, Pietro Aldobranchini. But also the monks of the church of San Francesco in Perugia lost their masterpiece of Raphael’s Deposition without their authorization. Moreover in 1607 were confiscated 107 paintings to the painter Giuseppe Celestial, just to increase its already impressive collection. The collection of Scipione Borghese was already considerable when the Cardinal in 1609 acquired a building in Via dellaConciliazione, next to St. Peter’s. This house became the first one of the collection which remained there until he moved into the villa Pinciana, at the top of Villa Borghese: thus was born Galleria Borghese.
Borghese Gallery – Galleria Borghese
The artworks of Galleria Borghese are divided into twenty rooms on two floors. On the ground floor are located some sculptures, not only the ancient ones, but also those ordered to some artists of the period, in addition to those received in the following centuries. A spiral staircase leads from the ground floor to the first floor where in twelve halls there is the gallery with hundreds of paintings: an anthology of paintings from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. A huge, great, uniquecollection, , where all schools are represented: the Italian Mannerism and Florentine one, the Lombard school, Ferrara, Florence, Siena, Brescia, Venetian and Roman. On this page some of the must-see works at the Galleria Borghese.
Canova and Bernini: Paolina Borghese, Apollo and Daphne, David, and the Rape of Proserpine
At the centre of the first room, stands one of the most famous statues in the world, the one of Pauline Borghese that Antonio Canova created between 1805 and 1808. No less famous is, in the second room, the David that Cardinal Scipione commissioned to the young Gian Lorenzo Bernini; Apollo and Daphne are in the middle of the third room, and in the fourth the marble group depicting the Rape of Proserpine. The fifth room is called the Hermaphrodite because of the presence of a Greek sculpture of Hermaphrodite, which dates back to the first century after Christ. There are other two works by Bernini in the sixth room, Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius, while in the seventh room, the Egyptian room , there are two statues of Isis, a first-century AD bronze, the other in black marble, about 150 AD.
Beloved Caravaggio by Scipione Borghese
Caravaggio was the favourite artist of Cardinal Borghese, so no wonder that here there are six works: Our Madonna and Child with St. Anne (Dei Palafrenieri) , the famous Boy with a Basket of Fruit, Young Sick Bacchus, St. Jerome Writing, St. John the Baptist and David with the head of Goliath, Caravaggio’s portrait.
Also Raffaello was loved by Scipione Borghese, infact there are three paintings : Portrait of a Man, Portrait of Young Woman with Unicorn, and the Entombment known as the Pala Baglione. The way the Entombment reached Rome can explain the character of Scipione Borghese: it was painted for AtalantaBaglioni in memory of her son Grifonetto, killed in the struggle for the rule of Perugia. The painting was in the church of San Francesco in Perugia. Here it remained for 101 years, until when , with the complicity of the local clergy, was picked up and sent to Paul V, who gave it to his nephew for the collection.
Tiziano and the Sacred and Profane Love
When Tiziano was just 25 years old, painted in 1514 “The Sacred and Profane Love” for the wedding of Nicholas Aurelius, and Laura Bagarotto. The candid bride, close to Love, is assisted by Venus herself. The two perfect women symbolize: the first one the “short happiness on earth” with the vase of joys and the second one the eternal and heavenly happiness, holding the burning flame of God’s love.
Where: Villa Borghese
How to get there: Take metro line A stop Spagna and follow the indication for Villa Borghese – Via Veneto. With the bus: 5, 19, 52, 53, 63, 86, 88, 92, 95, 116, 204, 217, 231, 360, 490, 491, 495, 630, 910, 926.
Booking compulsory through the number 06 32810 (active Mon-Fri 9 am – 6 pm , Sat 9 am – 1 pm)
Timetable of Galleria Borghese
Tuesday – Sunday from 9 am to 7 pm
Last entrance at 5 pm – The tour can last two hours for a maximum of 360 people
From 9 – 11 am / 11 am – 1 pm / 1-3 pm/ 3-5 pm/ 5-7 pm
Closing days: Monday, December 25th, January 1st
Ticket: Full ticket € 11.00 (9.00 + 2.00 Reservation required through number 06 32810 (active from Monday to Friday 9 am to 6 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm)