Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Favorite Artworks at Galleria Borghese, Rome

After the miracle of the Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums), it might be tempting to say that I was saturated and couldn't take in any.  But my greediness knew no bound, therefore, my pilgrimage continued, in the eternal city itself.

The other major art museum in Rome, besides the Vatican and the Musei Capitolini, is Galleria Borghese - the Borghese Gallery, housed in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana. "The Galleria Borghese houses a substantial part of the Borghese collection of paintings, sculpture and antiquities, begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V (reign 1605–1621)." [Wikipedia]

I remembered that during my visit to Roma, in late September, it was very still quite hot and I was very grateful to be inside the cool villa after long trek in the endless garden ground.  The museum's arrangement was like that in someone's own home - a supremely rich person's home.  I saw the art collections as the residents or guests would have seen, only need to remind myself that they ought not to be touched.

The scale of the villa, though big, was not as big as a palace, therefore deeply deceptive.  I was constantly amazed at how many treasures it had held.  It had a hugely important sculpture collections and some very important paintings.  Flipping through the materials I collected and browse online, I zoom in for these two my favorites:

Apollo and Daphne Carrara's marble cm. 243 | Gian Lorenzo Bernini

This tall marble sculpture by the great sculpture Gian Lorenzo Bernini, was a marvel, vividly captured the moment Daphne, fleeing from the passion of Apollo, transformed into a laurel tree.  Look at how the barks started to encase her lithe body and how her flowing hair and the tips of her hands were turning into leafy branches, therefore the obvious characteristics of Baroque epoch. 

The official website of the Galleria provided further details on this masterpiece: "This life-size marble sculpture, begun by Bernini at the age of twenty-four and executed between 1622 and 1625, has always been housed in the same villa, but originally stood on a lower and narrower base set against the wall near the stairs. Consequently anyone entering the room first saw Apollo from behind, then the fleeing nymph appeared in the process of metamorphosis: bark covers most of her body, but according to Ovid's lines, Apollo's hand can still feel her heart beating beneath it. In 1785, when Marcantonio IV Borghese decided to place the work in the centre of the room, Vincenzo Pacetti designed the present base by using the original pieces, adding plaster to the plinth and another cartouche bearing the Borghese eagle, sculpted by Lorenzo Cardelli."

The second piece of my favorite in this Gelleria is an enigmatic painting by the great Titian (Tiziano), Sacred and Profane Love:

Sacred and Profane Love (1514 ca.) oil on canvas cm. 118x279 | Titian

This painting, made when Titian was about twenty-five to celebrate the marriage of the Venetian Nicolò Aurelio (coat of arms on the sarcophagus) and Laura Bagarotto in 1514, was actually a celebration of beauty of perfection and the chaste and stern woman in white was the bride herself, accompanied by Cupid and Venus, in her most alluring pose and attire. The strong contrast of these two evocative and provocative figures, the wonderful Arcadian landscape, and the playful putto, constituted an enchanting lyrical poetry.

According to the Galleria's description, the current allegorical title "is the result of a late 18th-century interpretation of the painting, which gives a moralistic reading of the nude figure, whereas the artist intended this to be an exaltation of both earthly and heavenly love. Titian's Sacred and Profane Love has virtually become the symbol of the Borghese Gallery itself."

My Favorite Museum Collection Series

>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 12: My Favorite Sculptures at Museo Nazionale Romano, Roma
<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 10: My Favorite Art Collections at Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums)

List of My Favorite Artworks in the Museums I've Visited

1 comment:

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