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7 masterpieces of Borghese Gallery in Rome

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Villa Borghese, Rome

The Borghese Gallery in Rome is home to a remarkable collection of art and sculptures, showcasing some of the most iconic masterpieces from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. This is an ideal place to enjoy the pieces without crowds. The Borghese gallery collection is one of the biggest private collections of artworks made by Cardinal Borghese in the 17th century. Here you can find artists like Bernini, Titian, Rubens, Caravaggio and Raphael. I picked for you 7 of the most notable masterpieces you can find within its hallowed walls.

Tip: If you are planning to visit Rome I suggest you to book Borghese gallery tickets ahead. If you are visiting the gallery for the first time, I think a guided tour is the best way to understand and appreciate great masterpieces of Borghese collection.

The Rape of Proserpina by Bernini

The Rape of Proserpina sculpture is one of the famous pieces made by Bernini. It shows the moment when Pluto, the god of the underworld, kidnaps Proserpina, a nymph, and takes her to his world. The sculpture is carved from a single block of marble and is incredibly detailed. You can see Proserpina’s body turning into stone as she struggles against Pluto’s grasp. Bernini was really talented at making stone look like it’s alive, and the way he used light and shadow makes the sculpture even more powerful and emotional. It’s a remarkable piece of art.

Apollo and Daphne by Bernini

The sculpture “Apollo and Daphne” by Gian Lorenzo Bernini shows a dramatic scene from a Greek myth. It’s about Apollo, the sun god, chasing after Daphne, a nymph who is turning into a tree to escape him. Bernini was really good at carving marble, and you can see how Apollo’s hand almost touches Daphne’s skin as she changes. It’s a powerful and lifelike sculpture that tells a captivating story from ancient times.

David by Bernini

Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sculpture of David is a piece that brings the biblical hero to life in a way that’s both dynamic and emotionally charged. The sculpture captures the intense moment just before David hurls a stone at Goliath, showcasing the young hero’s focused determination and muscular tension. Bernini’s incredible skill in marble sculpting is evident in the lifelike quality of David’s expression and posture. This work exemplifies the essence of Baroque art, showcasing movement and emotion through complex detail.

The Young Sick Bacchus by Caravaggio

 Caravaggio’s “The Young Sick Bacchus” on display at the Borghese Gallery is a captivating painting that portrays Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and revelry, in a vulnerable and humanizing light. The image showcases Bacchus as a young man with flushed cheeks, holding a bunch of grapes. His paleness and delicate manner suggest both intoxication and illness. Caravaggio’s signature use of chiaroscuro effect, contrasting light and shadow, brings an intimate and almost physical quality to this portrayal.

Boy with basket of fruits by Caravaggio

Caravaggio’s “Boy with a Basket of Fruit” is a stunning painting of a young boy holding a basket of delicious fruits. Caravaggio’s amazing attention to detail makes the fruit and the boy look very real. The model in this painting was Sicilian artist Mario Minniti, Caravaggio’s friend and companion. This painting shows how Caravaggio could make ordinary things look extraordinary, and it’s a beautiful example of his talent as a painter. The painting related to the period when Caravaggio just moved to Rome from Milan and was making his way in the competitive Roman art world.

Young woman with unicorn by Raphael

Young Woman with Unicorn in the Borghese Gallery is considered a masterpiece. I think it is important to see it, the technique painters used during the Renaissance period. The artwork depicts a young woman holding a small unicorn, symbolizing purity and chastity. Raphael’s exquisite attention to detail and delicate brushwork give the painting a soft and ethereal quality. But for me this painting looks strange. The look of the lady seems irritated with a little anger. The unicorn looks like a dead sheep with a horn, sorry. I think it looked mush better before the restoration. Anyway I think it is significant to see it, and make your own conclusions.

Sacred and profane love by Titian

Titian’s “Sacred and Profane Love” was made in 1514 with oil paintings. The painting probably shows the figure of a bride dressed in white, seated next to Cupid and accompanied by the goddess Venus. The setting is richly detailed, with classical elements and sumptuous fabrics. The title of the painting was first recorded in 1693, when it was included in the inventory as Amor Divino e Amor Profano, and may not at all correspond to the original plan.

Want to learn more about Rome? Read my post about things to do in Rome.

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