TEFAF LOAN EXHIBITION 2017: GALLERIA BORGHESE - AN ITALIAN LEGACY

The loan exhibition at TEFAF Maastricht 2017, housed in TEFAF Paper, came from the renowned Italian museum Galleria Borghese in Rome. Treasures to be exhibited in the exhibition ‘Galleria Borghese - An Italian Legacy’ include a selection of highly significant Italian paintings and sculptures from the 15th-, 16th- and 17th- centuries. The Galleria Borghese is a lasting tribute to Scipione Borghese (1577-1633), who used his position as Cardinal Nephew to his uncle Pope Paul V (1552-1621), to create one of the richest and most sought after collections of the time. The extraordinary Villa that houses the museum itself is an embodiment of the history and development of Italian collecting between the 17th- and 19th- centuries.

The artworks presented at TEFAF Maastricht 2017 were an exquisite example of Borghese’s passion for collecting. The Museum’s oeuvre ranges from antique to modern, from sculptures to bas-reliefs and paintings. This will be the first time that so many important works will be exhibited outside of the Galleria in Rome. Although on display in TEFAF Paper, a cross-section of works in a variety of mediums will be available to view. TEFAF Maastricht visitors will be given the unique opportunity to view this opulent exhibition of 13 pieces, providing an insightful look into the art of collecting.  

Among the highlights to be exhibited are a large canvas by the Neapolitan painter, Giovanni Battista [Battistello] Caracciolo (c. 1578-1635) depicting David holding the head of Goliath, which shows the faces of the victim and his executioner emerging dramatically from a dark background. Caracciolo was heavily influenced both by Caravaggio and then later, after he had moved to Rome, by the Emilian school; a recently restored painting by Dosso Dossi [Giovanni di Luteri] (c. 1486 – 1542), who was a court painter in the Renaissance Court of Ferrara. Entitled Melissa or The Sorceress Circe and dating from around 1522, the work belongs to a group of paintings that the Cardinal Enzo Bentivoglio sent to Scipione Borghese from Ferrara in 1607; a selection of paintings by Pietro da Cortona (c. 1596-1669), including the 1626 portrait of Marcello Sacchetti.

Standing 140cm high, La Zingarella or Gypsy Girl, was commissioned by Scipione Borghese and executed by Nicolas Cordier [Franciosino] (1567-1612) c. 1610. The statue is a hybrid of ancient grey marble and Cordier’s white marble with gilded bronze additions. The upper part of the cape features eagles and dragons from the Borghese crest. Other sculptural highlights include Capra Amaltea or The Amalthea Goat by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) and Il Sonno or The Sleep by Alessandro Algardi (1598-1654).

 

The Bernini sculpture, considered to be a very early work, shows a crouched goat lying between a satyr and the infant Zeus carved from white marble. The surface of the marble has been treated to create different textures and reflect light in different ways demonstrating Bernini’s painterly skill. An ancient sculpture was used as the model for Algardi’s naked cherub lying dreamily on a sheet, which was typical of work from this period. Black marble was used to denote the night and sleep.
Scipione Borghese commissioned the architect Flaminio Ponzio (1559-1613) to build the villa, which is now the Galleria Borghese, to house his collection of painting and sculpture. The project was completed by Giovanni Vasanzio (1550-1621).