Top 5 Art Works to admire in the Borghese Gallery, Rome

October 7, 2014
Enrico Catani

Located in the very centre of RomeVilla Borghese is the third largest park in the city: an enchanting park, among the most beautiful in the city, which is not only trees and wide open green space, but it also houses several buildings, sculptures, museums, fountains, ponds, formal gardens, a theater, academies and cultural institutions renowned around the world.
The main building of the villa is the Borghese Gallery, was built by the architect Flaminio Ponzio and is now one of the most important museums of the city as it hosts the works of Bernini and Antonio Canova, as well as paintings by TizianoRaffaello and Caravaggio. The gallery is best to be visited through a guided tour with skip-the-line tickets!
So let's have a look at the 5 best art works you cannot miss if you visit the amazing Borghese Gallery!

Apollo and Daphne, by Bernini

Considered one of the masterpieces of Gian Lorenzo Bernini without doubt one of the most famous sculptures in the exhibition in the impressive complex of Galleria Borghese. The sculpture was carried out in three years of work, from 1922 to 1925 and tells one of the legends in the book "Metamorphoses" by Ovid.
The story is very suggestive: the god Apollo claimed to know how to use bow and arrows better than anyone else. Cupid, the god of love, punishes his Apollo's conceit hitting him with one of his arrows and making him fall in love with the nymph Daphne, who had previously decided to devote her entire life to the goddess of hunting, Diana. However, Apollo inexorably loves Daphne to the point that the woman is forced to ask for help to her father Peneus, god of the woods. Peneus decides to turn her into a laurel tree and this is the episode that artist Bernini decided to represent in his sculpture.
Daphne's legs turn into roots and by the hands and the hair sprouting of leaves, while Apollo looks at the woman shocked by this event: Bernini working the marble is able to represent this amazing metamorphosis with unparalleled ease. The sculpture is located on the ground floor of the Borghese Gallery in the "Hall of Apollo and Daphne."

Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix, Canova

The work was commissioned in 1804 by the famous Venetian sculptor by Prince Camillo Borghese to portray his young wife, younger sister of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.Not without cause quite a stir among his contemporaries, the princess wore the guise of the goddess Venus victorious in the judgment of Paris, to enhance their social status and dynastic and its celebrated beauty.
Pauline is lying half-naked on a daybed in painted wood decorated with gold inserts and between the fingers has a bone thin, attributed to the goddess in recognition of his supremacy among the female deities. Grace ancient and compositional artifice agree with the naturalistic rendering, almost painterly, the soft flesh tones and light veils that cover the sides.The genre of the portrait of the deified inspiration of old, it was already been experienced by Canova in Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker. The sculptor became the interpreter par excellence of dynastic glorification of Napoleon's.
After being transported to the residence of Turin Camillo and later in the Roman Palazzo Borghese in Campo Marzio, the statue of Pauline came in 1838 in Casino Pinciano only since 1889 and was placed in the hall I, in agreement with the themes narrated in the paintings shown on the ceiling with the stories of Venus and Aeneas.

Boy with a Basket of Fruit, Caravaggio

This famous painting by Caravaggio is one of the first works that he painted in Rome, where I had attained the age of twenty-two years. At that time it was used to make "flowers and fruit", and it is here that probably was born his interest in still lifes. In this context, the still life, however, is not in itself, but supported by the figure of a young boy.
What you notice first is the extreme realism with which they are made is the figure of the boy is holding basket with fruit in their hands. Already in this note is its extreme ability to depict the reality: the guy does not look 'idealized', but genuine, not handsome, almost a little 'vulgar.
The Borgese Gallery has a unique set, perhaps the best collection of Caravaggio’s works in just a museum, housing five more paintings of the master: theYoung Sick Bacchus (a supposed self-portrait of the artist); the Madonna and Child with St. Anne (Dei Palafrenieri); the Saint Jerome Writing; the John the Baptist(also known as John in the Wilderness) and, last but not least, the David with the Head of Goliath, one of the most interesting work of his career: this painting, in fact, was realized in Naples, where the artist fled in 1606 after being accused of murder.

Sacred and Profane Love, by Titian

The Sacred Love and Profane Love, is a masterpiece by artist Titian (in Italian "Tiziano Vecellio") at the age of about 25 years, was realized at the wedding of Venetian Nicholas Aurelius and Laura Bagarotto in 1514. The white bride, close to the child (who is the god of Love), is assisted by Venus in person. The two women of similar perfection symbolize one another's "short happiness on earth" with the attribute of the vessel and the other joys of eternal happiness and heavenly in hand with the burning flame of God's love. 
The title is the result of an interpretation of the late '700 according to a moralistic reading of the figure undressed, while the intention of the author, on the contrary, there is the exaltation of love in its earthly and heavenly. In fact, in the Neo-Platonic vision, shared by Titian and his circle of friends, the contemplation of the beauty of creation was intended to perceive the divine perfection of the order of the cosmos. 
With this depiction of love in the open countryside Titian has surpassed the delicate poetic and lyrical of a Giovanni Bellini or Giorgione, attributing the figures to the ancient grandeur. The universal work of Titian's fame is again confirmed in 1899, when the bankers Rothschild offered a higher price for this painting than the value estimated at the time for the whole Villa Borghese including works of art (4,000,000 compared to 3,600,000 lire ), but the Sacred Love and Profane Love by Titian remained bound to the Galleria Borghese, almost the same metaphor.

A Titian's masterpiece in Borghese Gallery

The Enchantress Circe (or Melissa), by Dosso Dossi

In the early 1500s the painter John Luther, better known as Dosso Dossi, a native of the city of Ferrara, painted this work using the technique of oil on canvas. The picture captures a magician in the act of making a spell: the female protagonist of the scene is not a cruel witch, but a witch with a sweet and benevolent, who might remember us of Melissa, the character of the Orlando Furioso, the epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto: in the poem, Melissa frees the Christian knights prisoners in the palace of the evil Alcina that had transformed them into stones, trees and animals.
The painting decipts Melissa in a bucolic landscape full of trees and hills, dressed in sumptuous clothes and a turban. The sorceress is surrounded by a dog and some birds. In one hand he holds a board with some mysterious symbols and is sitting in a "magic circle" where she's preparing his spell. With the other hand is lighting a torch with the help of a brazier, which symbolizes clairvoyance. Some small men are suspended in the tree that is to the left of the work, it would be just the riders that she is trying to liberate. Although this painting is located on the ground floor of the Borghese Gallery in the "Hall of Apollo and Daphne".

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