The Borghese Gallery is an elegant palace with remarkable artworks, mostly from fourteenth and fifteens centuries. It is mandatory for visiting and extremely popular among English speakers. Moreover, the Gallery considered as one of the most famed art museums in the whole world. Not only the Gallery attracts visitors, but also amazing gardens that surround it and the third largest park in Rome, where Galleria Borghese located. There is an entrance fee and you can also use Roma Pass to go inside.
- 1 History
- 2 Exhibitions
- 3 Main Art Works
- 3.1 Pauline Bonaparte
- 3.2 David by Bernini
- 3.3 Apollo and Daphne
- 3.4 The Rape of Prosperina
- 3.5 Truth Revealed by Time
- 3.6 Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius
- 3.7 Madonna and Child with St. Anne
- 3.8 Boy with a Basket of Fruit
- 3.9 The Deposition by Raphael
- 3.10 Young Woman with Unicorn
- 3.11 The Bust of Cardinal Borghese
- 3.12 The Hunt of Diana
- 3.13 Portrait of a Man by Raphael
- 3.14 Portrait of a Man by Antonello da Messina
- 3.15 Sacred and Profane Love
- 3.16 The Triumph of Galatea
- 3.17 La Fornarina
- 3.18 Dancing Satyr
- 3.19 David with the Head of Goliath
- 3.20 The Deposition by Rubens
- 4 Tickets
Previously, the Villa Borghese was the summer residence of the Borghese family. It was built in 1600’s. In 1605, Camillo Borghese became Pope Paul V and his nephew, Scipione Borghese (1577 – 1633), decorated and furnished the Galleria according to his tastes.
In 1800’s, when Rome was under French rule, another Camillo Borghese, a prince, married a member of Bonaparte family, Paolina. In 1807, Prince Borghese gave about 500 pieces of art from the Borghese Gallery to Napoleon, and today you can find them in the Louvre in Paris.
However, in 1902, the Borghese family sold the villa and all the masterpieces to Italy
The Borghese Gallery has a lot of masterpieces as ancient sculptures and marvelous collecions.
The Galleria Borghese has a substantial part of the collection begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1577 – 1633), who was a nephew of Pope Paul V
It was called the most beautiful collection in the world and was assembled in 1607 by Cardinal Borghese. Moreover, it was considered one of the largest collections of his time. The first set of paintings consisted of masterpieces by Caravaggio, Titian, and Raphael, Rubens, Botticelli. Talking about his collection of ancient sculptures, the extraordinary mixture of modern and classical statuaries made it universal and impressive.
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From 1615 to 1623, Gian Lorenzo Bernini executed his favorite artworks for the cardinal and you can still find in the Galleria Borghese: the Aeneas and Anchises, the Rape of Prosperina, the David, and the Apollo and Daphne. Each of these masterpieces placed in the middle of every room and link the entire decorative theme. Moreover, they have never been moved.
The ground floor represents works of classic antiquities from the first to the third centuries A.D. There you will find marvelous sculptures as well as impressive mosaics and frescoes that decorate the walls and ceilings. Moreover, the décor consists of marbles, inlays, stuccowork, and different insertions of antiquity.
The works are displayed in the 20 rooms with frescoes
Also, more than 260 paintings located in the Galleria Borghese’s storage rooms, which can be visited upon booking. Importantly, for security reasons, access to the Museum is limited to two hours with a maximum of 360 people at a time.
Main Art Works
There are many important and notable paintings, sculptures, statues and busts in the Borghese Museum.
Here’s the list of the most famous and distinguished art works created by worldwide known artists.
Portrait of Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix by Antonio Canova located in the Room I. Pauline Bonaparte, the sister of Napoleon, is depicted with the golden apple in her left hand, thanks to which Paris started to consider her beauty as being greater than other two goddess: Juno and Minerva.
At the time of its creation, nude statues of the aristocracy were uncommon and it is said that Camillo Borghese permitted close friends to view the art work, and only by candlelight
David by Bernini
David is a life-size marble statue by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Its creation took seven months from 1623 to 1624. David is the biblical character, who is about to throw the stone that will hit Goliath, so David will behead him. It is located in the Room I.
Apollo and Daphne
Apollo and Daphne is another masterpiece by Bernini, located in the Room III. The sculpture was commissioned in 1622, where Bernini was assisted by Giulianno Finetti. The nymph became a symbol of virtue because of the late 15th century moralizations by Christians on the mythological topic of Apollo and Daphne. The art work represents Daphne and Phoebus in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
The Rape of Prosperina
The Rape of Prosperina is one of the most famous art works of the gallery, located in the Room IV. This is another sculpture from the Ovid’s Metamorphoses. It represents the moment when Prosperina, the daughter of Ceres and Jupiter, is abducted by Plato, the king of the underworld. The statue was created in 1621-1622 by Bernini when he was just 23 years old.
Truth Revealed by Time
The Truth Revealed by Time by Bernini located in the Room VI. The statue belongs to the sculptural group that was never finished. Moreover, when Bernini died, the large marble block dedicated to the creation of Time in Flight and the Revealer of Truth was sold by artist’s heirs.
Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius
Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius statue by Bernini is representation of the figures of the father, son and grandson. There is a reference to the theme of three ages of man. It is located in the Room VI. The art work depicts a scene from the Aeneid, where the hero Aeneas leads his family from burning Troy.
Madonna and Child with St. Anne
Madonna and Child with St. Anne (dei Palafrenieri) is one of the mature religious works by Caravaggio. It was painted in 1605-1606 for the Altar in the Basilica of St Peter. The painting was exhibited in several places before Scipione Borghese bought it. Madonna dei Palafrenieri represents a theological concept of the importance in humanized terms by depicting St Anne, the embodiment of divine grace, in a role of passive detachment. It is located in the Room VIII.
Boy with a Basket of Fruit
Boy with a Basket of Fruit is one of the most famous art works by Caravaggio, located in the Room VIII. The painting dates to the beginning of the career of the notable master. Moreover, the model for the boy in the painting was a friend of Caravaggio, Mario Minniti. He was only 16 at the time and might fill in as one of Caravaggio’s models later on.
The Deposition by Raphael
The Depostion, also known as the Entombment, by Raphael is the art work from 1507. It was completed when the artist was only 24 years old. The painting was commissioned as an Altarpiece by a Perugian noblewoman. Moreover, the faces of suffering allude to the family’s grief, while the representation of fainting Virgin Mary on the right side is a remark to the patron herself. It is located in the Room IX.
Young Woman with Unicorn
Young Woman with Unicorn by Raphael is a painting which dates to 1505-1506, located in the Room IX. In 1760, the subject of the masterpiece was identified as Saint Catherine of Alexandria and referred to Perugino. Moreover, the unicorn is considered as the symbol of chastity.
The composition of the art work was inspired by the Mona Lisa
The Bust of Cardinal Borghese
The Bust of Cardinal Borghese exists in two versions, both done in 1632. If you look closer, you will notice that there is a crack in the head of the first version made by Bernini. Since Cardinal was a good friend of the artist, he remade the sculpute in 15 days, which is similar in details, so it is difficult to find differences. It is located in the Room XIV.
The Hunt of Diana
The Hunt of Diana by Domenico Zampieri was created in 1616-1617 and today, it is located in the Room XIX in the Borghese Gallery. Diana is the Roman goddes of the hunt and protector of children. Her Greek equivalent is Artemis. The painting represents Diana and her nymphs with connection to the events of the archery contest of book five in Virgil’s Aeneid.
Portrait of a Man by Raphael
The Portrait of a Man by Raphael was created in 1502 and is located in the Room XX. Previously, it has been attributed to Hans Holbein and Perugino. Most probably, the portrait contains an embodiment of a duke, where the expression is highly vivid and the approach is quite different from the realistic style of the northern artists.
Portrait of a Man by Antonello da Messina
Portrait of a Man by Antonello da Messina contains a man with the gaze which constitute the most intriguing feature of the art work. It is one of the masterpieces of the artist’s mature period. The man is dressed in in the red tunic and the black cap that are typical garments of Venetian patricians. In addition, the artist spent two years of his life in Venice, where he created this painting. It is located in the Room XX.
Sacred and Profane Love
Sacred and Profane Love is one of the most famous works by Titian, which was created in 1514. Today, it is located in the Room XX of the Borghese Gallery. The painting contains the bride dressed in white, sitting beside Cupid along with the goddess Venus.
The Triumph of Galatea
The Emperor’s Room in the Borghese Gallery includes the 18 poryphy and alabaster busts of the Twelve Caesars, various replicas and the goddes Juno. In the centre of the room is the Triumph of Galatea, daughter of Nereus, who is desired by the cyclops Polyhemus on the left side and loved by the shepherd Acis, embodied on the right side.
The Portrait of a Young Woman, also known as La Fornarina is a painting by Raphael. It was created in 1520 and located in the Room IX. The woman on the painting is identified as the fornarina (daughter of a baker) Margherita Luti, who was Raphael’s Roman lover. There are many different versions of reasons why she covers her left breast on the painting. One of them suggests that the right hand on the left breast is connected to the cancerous breast tumour, while another reveals to the last fed her child on, where the child is being Raphael’s.
Dancing Satyr is a restoration by Thorvaldsen, located in the Room VIII. The original sculpture from which this cast is taken was restore in the 19th century. The face shows that the satyr was playing a flute. However, Thorvaldsen ignored this fact and decided to change the art work according to his vision of it.
David with the Head of Goliath
David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio has been dated to 1605-1610. The sword in David’s grasp conveys a shortened H-AS OS, which has been translated from the Latin “humilitas occidit superbiam” as “humility kills pride.” The depiction of the story of David and Goliath was commissioned by Cardinal himself and is thought to be at the same time when Caravaggio killed a man and was sentenced to death by Pope. It caused him to move away from the city. Thus, the dark nature of the masterpiece is considered to be a self-portrait.
The Deposition by Rubens
Peter Paul Rubens is called the Genius European Baroque. The Deposition art work was created during his first coming to Rome. The masterpiece shows an impressive interpretation of the theme of incarnation of the divine and human nature of Chirst, hanging in between death and potential future life. It is located in the Room XVIII.
The Galleria Borghese is one of the most impressive museums in the world. Undoubtedly, it will be interesting to visit for all ages. However, since it is extremely popular, booking in advance is mandatory and you won’t be able to go in without a pre-paid admission ticket. There are two ways to reserve a ticket: online or by phone. The price is 20 euro for adults + 2 euro for booking fee and 2 euro for children under 18 years old (so only the booking fee is paid). EU citizens from 18 to 25 years old have reduced ticket cost option which is 13.50 euro + 2 euro booking fee. I advise you to book a ticket in advance to make sure that tickets for your date aren’t sold out.
The official website of the Gallery for reservations and information is here
Ticket booking is in any case obligatory.
Visitors possessing the Roma Pass are requested to make a reservation 2-3 weeks before visit by phoning (+39) 06 32810
Moreover, when you choose a ticket, you have to choose among several categories + pay 2 euro presale fee.
Guided tour in English or Italian included in the price of the ticket
The admission charge may be higher when there are temporary exhibitions. Tickets will not be refunded or exchanged.