Beautiful Galleria Borghese

The Galleria Borghese (built 1613-16), what a beautiful place to begin the day, a wistful mansion retreat  built almost exclusively to house hundreds of Italian Masterpieces, not necessarily to live in.  We met first with Maria Assunta Sorrentino, Exhibitions Coordinator and Register, along with some of her colleagues.  The speakers explained how Borghese is one of 3,000 some federal museums in Rome.

Ceiling Painting, Galleria Borghese

Most any cultural institution in Rome is run by the government in some capacity, greatly influencing funding and their abilities to collaborate with other museums or institutions.  Though the collection here is massive a large portion of the original collection survives in Paris.  One of the Borghese sisters married Napoleon Bonaparte and during his raging plunder of European high culture and arts, the Galleria Borghese was not spared.  However, because of his relationship to the sister, the Borghese art was “sold” not stolen.

Hands down the most amazing things (for me at least) here are the collection of Bernini sculptures.  This man was a true artist and my “stolen” photos, aka hip shots, do no justice to the beauty of these pieces.  Every muscle, every expression, EVERY LITTLE THING is intricately perfect. Love, love, love.

Bernini Sculpture

After, we met with Manuela Cuccuru at the Gagosian Gallery to view the exhibition, “Made in Italy.”  There were some big name artists in the show including, Damien Hirst, if you remember my post about the Golden Dipped Cow.  However, you all know me and modern art, our relationship is fairly non-existent.  The meeting with Manuela was interesting however, learning about how they jury their shows and how they feel they are comparing to other galleries around Rome.  We spent a really long portion of our day at Borghese so we all sort of split ways at this point.

A small group of us travelled on over to the Cimeterio dei Cappuccini/Crypt of the Cappuchins.  This is sort of one of those weird things you think only exist on the travel channel. It’s a little crypt under a church, Santa Maria della Concezione, built by the Cappuchin monks out of the dead exhumed from a cemetery, and later their own relatives and brothers. Thousands of bodies literally adorn the walls and ceilings in intricate mosaics of random bones.  You have light fixtures made from spinal discs and walls stacked with skulls.

The bodies age from 1500 to the 1870s, though this particular crypt wasn’t in existence until 1631.  The bodies aging older than that were ordered to be moved from another cemetery in Rome. Unlike most people I wasn’t unsettled by being surrounded by so many dead bodies, I was struck by the fact that people had spent hours below ground with rotted/rotting corpses creating ornate designs in bones and fastening them to walls.  To each his own I suppose.

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