I set out with a modest but fulfilling schedule, two museums: Borghese Gallery & Capitoline Museum. I had a train at 6:30 pm and I did not want to possibly miss my train. Well, in the end I over doubled my load: Borghese Gallery & Gardens, Capitoline Museum, Palazzo Barberini, Catacombs of St. Callixtus, and Palazzo Massimo.
Note: I’m going to have to break up this day. Too much art for one post, even for me!
Borghese Gardens & Gallery
My arrival time was at 9:00 am (they limit you to 2 hours) so I arrived early, as always, and strolled the gardens for half an hour before entering.
I make it a habit to not look up every famous piece before I go to a museum so it’s like opening little presents with each room (although I generally know which one’s are “good” to go to). An boy this museum did not disappoint! Highlights:
So many Bernini statues! Bernini is an important Baroque artist and he is soooo Baroque! Meaning there are twists and turns and surprises from every angle, unlike much medieval and Renaissance art, in Baroque sculpture there isn’t “one” good vantage point, no “correct” way to look at his sculptures. And that’s the beauty of it. They are meant to be seen from every angle and each one holds a different surprise. You’ll see what I mean with these photos (note they are not mine – no photos allowed).
My favorite is a toss up between the David and Apollo and Daphne.
David has so much energy! He feels like is slinging his rock right at your face and it is instinctive to duck. The story depicted has Apollo attempting to seduce the nymph Daphne but she prays to be turned into a laurel tree so he cannot have her. The statue shows her body in the midst of transforming into a tree.
Some other mentionable pieces are Canova’s Pauline Borghese, Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love, and a few Caravaggio’s, but sadly Boy with Fruit Basket was on loan. Canova was Napoleon’s favorite sculptor and he produced this semi-nude reclining figure of his sister, Pauline Bonaparte, the wife of Camillo Borghese. It was never meant for public observation.
Titan’s Sacred and Profane Love has always puzzled me. I couldn’t figure out which side is “profane” and which side is “sacred,” but I am leaning towards the right side being sacred and the left “profane” since she is dressed richly and there’s a rabbit in the background. We all know what rabbit do…honestly, the rabbit is what sold me.