Galleria Borghese (Borghese Gallery)
The Galleria Borghese houses the largest private collection of art in the world.
Originally conceived by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the building project was commissioned to architect Ponzio. However, when he died suddenly, the project was handed to Vasanzio.
The building was designed to recall a suburban Roman villa, in classic style in accordance with the Cardinal's personal taste. Vasanzio covered the original structure built in a "U" formation, with a new façade with niches and classical sculptures (which were later removed). This splendid neoclassical mansion drew the avenue up to a regal, elevated end.
The museum entrance via the arcade is accessed by a double stairway leading to the Museo Borghese on the ground floor. Above, on the first floor, is the extensive Galleria Borghese which gives its name to the entire complex.
Scipione Borghese was an art enthusiast, particularly for classical and contemporary works, (less so for Medieval works). He gathered a large collection under his roof, including ancient sculptures and paintings by several artists including Titian, Raphael and Caravaggio. Later, Olimpia Aldobrandini, Paolo Borghese's wife, added to the riches of the museum her collection, which already featured works previously owned by Lucrezia D'Este and the Cardinal Salviati.
The fluctuating fortunes of the centuries have led to various acquisitions and losses for the Museum: notably the sale of 500 works of art to Napoleon by Camillo Borghese, found today in the Fondo Borghese in the Louvre, in Paris. There have also been significant acquisitions: Raphael's "Deposizione Baglioni", illegally transported from Perugia in 1600 and donated to Scipione, and Correggio's Danae, purchased in 1827, to name but two.
Added to these renowned painted works, the museum hosts the splendid and equally famous sculptures of Bernini, including his "David", the "Ratto di Proserpina", "Apollo e Daphne"; then Canova's reclining "Paolina Borghese"; Tiziano's "Amor Sacro e Amor Profano", Caravaggio's "David con la testa di Golia", and Rubens' "Pietà", all contribute to this stunning collection.
This parallel universe carries the observer through time, observed by the watchful eyes of characters captured on canvas and stone, immortalized by masters' hands.