A space rich in art and history. Immersed in the gardens of the Villa Borghese, the gallery is an arch of beauty of humanity. The Galleria Borghese is one of the treasures that few cities in the world can boast. Among other things, it is located in the vegetation of the public park most loved by Romans.
The Borghese Gallery in Rome today has the largest collection of Caravaggio’s paintings in the world, including the famous “A Young Man with a Basket of Fruit” and “David with the Head of Goliath”.
The Galleria Borghese is a work of art that contains many others, a treasure dear to Scipione Borghese in the 17th century. The Villa Borghese, outside the Porta Pinciana, in the inner part where the gallery is located, appeared in the early seventeenth century, around an initial possession of the family, which was gradually annexed to other lands until the formation of a huge park.
The rapid rise of Borghese, of Sienese origin, in the context of the Roman Empire, culminated with the election of the pontiff Camillo (1605-1621) who, under the name of Paul V, began the great era of urban interventions and extraordinary collection undertakings. The main protagonist of this scenario, and of the diplomatic and ceremonial representation of the ecclesiastical court, was the favorite nephew of the pope, cardinal Scipione Caffarelli Borghese. Scipione can be considered a talent hunter like Caravaggio and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
In the gallery you can find the largest collection in the world of works by Caravaggio and a large number of masterpieces by Bernini. Inside you can also see some of Canova’s most famous works such as the magnificent portrait of Paolina Borghese (Pauline Bonaparte), the fruit of the collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who in the early 1600s built this gallery just to organize all his treasures.
Do not miss the series of sculptures made for the cardinal by the young Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Eneas, the abduction of Proserpina, Apollo and Dafne, and David) that seems to invite us to participate in his events, sacred love and profane love for Titian, masterpieces of Caravaggio and the admirable Princess Pauline Borghese, Napoleon’s favorite sister, represented by Canova as Venus the Victor. A priceless artistic heritage of the rooms of the Galleria Borghese of the seventeenth century. Paintings, sculptures, mosaics and bas-reliefs from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century are part of the collection exhibited on the two floors of the building: on the first floor are the sculptures, while on the second floor is the art gallery.
The rooms on the second floor are introduced to a journey through color and canvas with treasures of their own such as “Portrait of a Man”, “The Deposition”, “Portrait of the Young Woman with a Unicorn” by Raphael, “Madonna and Child” by Perugino, “Portrait of a Young Man” by Ghirlandaio, “Young Man with a Basket of Fruit”, “Sick Bacchus”, “David with Goliath’s Head”, “Madonna of Loreto” by Caravaggio”, “Susanna and the Elders” by Rubens, “Sacred and Profane Love” by Titian, to name a few.
One of the symbols of the gallery is, in fact, the charming “Venus, the winner”, by Antonio Canova, of Paolina Borghese, represented on the triclinium with the fruit in his hand. Other famous sculptures are “David”, “The Abduction of Proserpina” and “Apollo and Dafne” by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
In the gallery there is a first floor with a large entrance hall called the Mariano Rossi Room, imposing both for its size and for its sumptuousness, for the decoration and for the monumental sculptures it houses. The first floor is a jubilation of Bernini’s masterpieces, Greek and Roman sculptures of great value, Canova’s Paolina, the Madonna of Loreto and Caravaggio.
The Picture Gallery is rich in works for connoisseurs, besides Raphael, Guercino, Domenichino, it is possible to appreciate some jewels of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which are in their natural habitat. The arch made by the Sicilian Mariano Rossi (1731-1807), which also bears the name of the room, is the most important. As we have already said, the Galleria Borghese is divided into two floors, one dedicated to sculptures and the other to paintings, although the visiting rooms are very small, inside which we always find great masterpieces.
Paolina Bonaparte Borghese
The room opens the way to the museum with one of the most famous sculptures of the Borghese collection, the portrait of Paolina Bonaparte Borghese in the dress of Venus, the Victor by Antonio Canova (1757-1822). Although the work has only been placed in this environment since 1889, it finds a natural destiny in the room dedicated to the stories of Venus and Aeneas, through episodes told in the paintings of the arch.
The five paintings by Domenico de Angelis
The five canvases, in fact, painted by Domenico de Angelis in 1779, represent the key moments in the life of the Trojan hero, son of the goddess Venus and mythical founder of the Roman civilization. The room of the Sun has taken this name by the presence of the ancient relief of the Sun God on the chariot, the Ocean and the Moon on the descending chariot, which connect the paintings of the ceiling. In the center of the room is exposed David by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), created by the artist between 1623 and 1624.
Of course, there are other rooms with other masterpieces, both on the first floor and on the second floor, but you have to visit them and realize that a masterpiece of humanity must be seen at least once in his life. It should be remembered that the Borghese Gallery was born as a private collection and therefore the works and their arrangement do not meet didactic criteria (period, subject) but reflect the taste and intentions of their former owners.
How to get to the Borghese Gallery?
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 9am to 7pm Last entrance at 5pm. Estimated time of visit: 2 hours
Ticket price: 20 €, it is highly recommended to buy it online. The first Sunday of each month, the entrance is free.
Take metro line A and get off at Flaminio or Spain.
Internal bus to Villa Borghese – Line 116; Buses that cross the Villa: 88, 95, 490, 495; Buses: 52, 53, 63, 86, 92, 116, 217, 360, 491, 630, 910, 926. Streetcar: 19, 3, or 2.
The Borghese Galleries are located in the park of Villa Borghese, Viale delle Belli Arti, 131.
Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5, 00197 Roma RM, Italy