July 9, 2007

A Thing of Grace and Beauty

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:48 am by classicalmusic

The Villa Borghese in the Borghese Gardens of Rome is not just a museum.  It is
a thing of grace and beauty to behold.

The Villa Borghese

The Villa Borghese, designed and built in the early 1600’s for Cardinal
Scipione Borghese, was restored to its original 17th century brilliance several
years ago.  The restoration took years and years, and when the Villa was finally
opened to the public, it was impossible to visit it without making reservations
weeks in advance.

It was built to house some of the great art collection of the Borghese
family, and, although many sculptures and paintings were sold by some of the
Borghese’s, the remainder which is now in the Villa is certainly a sight to

The Villa itself is a building which can only be described as containing both
grace and beauty.  The facade is a creamy white which glows honey-colored in the
sun, and the double staircase leading up to the entrance has an elegance all its

Two Magnificent Sculptures

On my short visit to the Villa Borghese (we were only allowed three hours
inside), I was most impressed by two sculptures:

-The first is that of Pauline Bonaparet, created by Antonio Canova in 1805. 
It dominates the first room of the villa.  The figure is partially naked and
partially reclining in the fashion of a Venus of antiquity.  The sheen and
patina of the marble makes her look as though in a moment she will begin to
breath.  The sight of her is absolutely breathtaking.  It seems impossible that
the hand of man could have fashioned such an exquisite work from a piece of

-The second sculpture is the statue of David, carved by that great Baroque
sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini.  While Michelangelo’s David, created in the
Renaissance, presents a confident and victorious hereo, Bernini’s David shows
him at the peak of action:  just about to throw the stone from his sling.  There
is a deep and almost human concentration in his face, while the rippling muscles
of his arms and legs create the impression that in an instant he will move.  I
could have stood in front of this statue for hours, full of admiration.

The Villa has many more works of art which really should be seen:  more
Berninis, a Caravaggio room, and a gorgeous Roman copy of a Greek statue of
Hermaphrodite from the Second Century B.C.  If ever in Rome, this museum is a
“must see” item.

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