Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Rome Treasures - Borghese Gallery

Borghese Gallery
As I post these short pieces, my intention is to recollect for you your own delights , if you've already been there; to highlight a few of the things that stood out for me (editing down from such rich collections is nearly impossible to do fairly); or to introduce readers to some of these venues.  Maybe you will look up something in more detail and become intrigued enough to consider your own trip!

Places like the Vatican Museums have so much to see that it would be like going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and trying to cover it in a day.  You'd be dizzy and exhausted.  The Borghese Gallery, by contrast, is much more manageable.

To begin with, the grounds are lovely - the house is accessed via broad tree lined walkways or carriage roads.  There are plenty of benches where you can sit and have a cool drink, watch people, listen to musicians, and soak up the atmosphere.

You have to have advance tickets, at least this time of year, and you are given a time to enter; there is a two hour limit and then you have to exit and another group comes in.  It means that the rooms are not crowded.  You can see things, walk up to them easily and look closely.

David by Bernini
The art was collected by Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V.  Apparently the collections were  larger at one time, but Napoleon induced Borghese to 'sell' some of the works and they are now in the Louvre.  Look up more information on the history here or google the gallery and look at the professional images of the rooms and art!

I've always been more interested in paintings than sculptures or mosaics, but that was before experiencing some of the things I saw on this trip.  The Bernini sculptures are particularly wonderful.  I loved the set of David's jaw, the dynamic posture as he prepared to deliver the fatal blow with his sling. 

Apollo and Daphne
Even more, I loved this one of Apollo and Daphne.  Do look for other images of this so you can see some of the details.  Apollo has fallen in love with her and gives chase; she tries to escape and when she can't, she transforms herself into a laurel tree.  You see her hair and hands sprouting leaves, bark covers much of her body, her feet begin to root into the ground.  It is the most beautiful sculpture!  And you wonder how anyone can get such fine detail out of marble.

There are other outstanding sculptures, many fine paintings, including artists like Raphael and Caravaggio; and then there were these mosaics by Marcello Provenzale that caught my attention.  The pieces were not that big - maybe something like 18" by 24".  I've seen gorgeous mosaic that are very detailed so that from a distance you see the shadings as though they were paintings.  But these were so much smaller - the individual pieces didn't seem to be much bigger than plump pieces of rice.

Orfeo by Marcello Provenzale
Two hours goes by quickly in this magnificent gallery and that's certainly not enough time to focus on much.  The ceilings and floors deserve close attention as well.  But you do come away with a sense of having had a very full meal; sitting on a bench in the shade afterward to compose yourself and digest is recommended.

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