The Barberini Palace (Palazzo Barberini) is a 17th-century palace in Rome facing the Piazza Barberini. It houses the Rome’s National Gallery (Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica). It was built in 1549 and occupied by the Sforza family. However, when Cardinal Alessandro Sforza had financial hardships, Maffeo Barberini purchased the building in 1625.
Three famous architects worked to create the palace: Carlo Maderno, Francesco Borromini, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who completed the works in 1633.
In 1953, the Barberini Palace became a museum and joined Galleria Corsini at the seat of Rome’s National Gallery. The collections of both Corsini Gallery and Barberini Palace include masterpieces such as “Allegory of Divine Providence” by Pietro da Cortona, “La Fornarina” by Raphael, “Judith and Holofernes” by Caravaggio, a bust of Urbano VIII by Bernini, and works from the 17th and 18th centuries from the collections of the Barberini and Corsini families.
See also a Guide to Borromini’s Masterpieces in Rome.
Rome’s National Gallery contains masterpieces like Murillo’s “Madonna and Child,” Filippo Lippi’s “Tarquinia Madonna” with baby Jesus, and artworks by Rubens, Van Dyck, Andrea del Sarto, Luca Giordano, Guercino, and others.
Two famous works are masterpieces by Caravaggio and Guido Reni that connected to the life of John the Baptist.
Around 1605, Caravaggio dealt with St John the Baptist about two compositions: one in the Kansas City Gallery and the second in Rome’s National Gallery. The first one is laid out vertically, while the second one is horizontal. In the Roman version, only one cypress tree trunk is located on the left, while the Kansas version is set before many plants. Undoubtedly, both masterpieces are impressive.
Guido Reni, in turn, created “Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist” 30 years later than Caravaggio, in 1630-35. The Bolognese painter depicted one of the New Testament’s stories. Salome, the daughter of Herodias, pleased her father, Herod Antipas, by dancing at his birthday celebration; he promised to realize her wish. However, prompted by her vengeful mother, Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist, whom Herod had imprisoned for condemnation of marriage. So the painting illustrates the moment when the head of the saint is presented to the daughter.
See also a list of artworks by Caravaggio that can be seen in Rome.
Palazzo Barberini Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Closed Mondays, December 25th and January 1st.
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Author: Kate Zusmann
For the last 10 years, I live in the Eternal City. Traveling, exploring new things, writing blogs, and shooting vlogs are my main hobbies, but the thing that I like even more is sharing my experience and thoughts with you! Explore Rome with Us :)
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