It is recognized as being the most prestigious exhibition gallery of the Universe and given the collection of paintings and modern/ancient sculptures it holds, it is no small wonder. The original residence belonged to Cardinal Camillo Borghese but when he became Pope choosing the name of Paul V, he left the Villa to his nephew Scipione who also happened to be a Cardinal.
It is set in an enormous park and unlike today, it was regarded then as being in the open countryside, rather like the other “suburban” residences such as Villa Aldobrandini, Villa Medici, Villa Albani.
Cardinal Scipione soon began work on his “museum” as he began his collection both out of pleasure and to bring prestige to his coat of arms. Of course the items confiscated by his papal uncle in the name of the Church certainly helped the cause and the Caravaggios, Cavalier d’Arpinos and other big names of the XVth century art world came a’flocking.
The collection depleted somewhat over the three ensuing centuries but the biggest blow came in 1807 when another Camillo Borghese, brother in law to Napoleon Bonaparte, sold off a great deal of his treasures that are now held in the Louvre in Paris. The sum agreed was a staggering thirteen million francs which secured l’Empereur some 600 magnificent pieces.
One of the more prestigious works currently in the museum is the statue of Paolina Borghese by Antonio Canova as she reclines against the cushion-filled backrest of her bergère. A small piece of cloth appears haphazardly thrown across the middle of her otherwise naked body. To give the statue an even greater human appearance and a velvety look about it, Canova covered the nude parts of the statue with liquid wax which gave the marble a pinkish tone of colour.
Enjoy it, it is truly fabulous!!
Opening times: Tuesdays to Sundays 08.30 to 19.30 – Closed Mondays, December 25, January 1
Entrance is allowed up to thirty minutes prior to closing time HOWEVER BOOKING YOUR TICKET IS OBLIGATORY. CALL 06 32810 to do so.