the gallery

The Galleria del Cembalo, new exhibition space opened upon initiative of Paola Stacchini Cavazza at Palazzo Borghese in the heart of ancient Rome, between the Spanish Steps and the river Tiber, returns to fans and art collectors some of the ground floor rooms decorated by Marcantonio IV Borghese in the late eighteenth century in order to house his own collection.
The exhibition’s central focus, conducted in collaboration with Mario Peliti, will be photography and its relationship with other forms of artistic expressions. The organization of the exhibitions and the sale is byPeliti Associati.
La Galleria del Cembalo: description and history

In the wing of Palazzo Borghese that stretches towards the river Tiber giving to the building the unusual shape of a cymbal, on the ground floor there is a gallery which consists of five adjoining rooms, with fresco ceilings, overlooking the nymphaeum. From the entrance of the building on Largo della Fontanella di Borghese, the view of the magnificent fountains made by Rainaldi and of the hedges encourages to uncover the peace of the garden and leads to the entrance of the gallery.
A staircase leads to the spacious rooms, all with very high ceilings and a rich golden cornice that frame the painted walls, which immediately recall the “Grand Tour” era, during which the same rooms hosted visitors from all over Europe.

Galleria del Cembalo - Fotografia di Massimo Siragusa

During that period, around 1770, Marcantonio IV Borghese, who was the head of the household and was very ambitious and wealthy, wanted to regain the importance and fame that the Borghese family had during the time of Paul V and his nephew Cardinal Scipione. In less than a hundred years, the Borghese family became one of the most important families of the Roman aristocracy and the rooms of the ground floor overlooking the garden a mandatory place to visit for travellers, who were welcomed in the gallery to admire the art collection, the sculptures and the paintings. The decoration of the rooms was done between 1767 and 1775 and, at the time, represented one of the most important decorative work in Rome of the late eighteenth, being commissioned to the most appreciated artists.

Galleria del Cembalo - Fotografia di Massimo Siragusa

In the first room, on the ceiling there is Francesco Caccianiga’s painting Aurora, which was a common theme in the aristocratic buildings, which depicts the goddess while spreading flowers in the first light of day; moving on to the princess’ antechamber, there are neoclassical decoration done by Laurent Pécheux, in which in the center there is Le nozze tra Cupido e Psiche (1774) and on the side panels cards the wedding scenes with Jupiter, Mercury and the four elements.
On Piazza Borghese’s side there is the room which once served as prince Marcantonio IV’s antechamber that holds Ermenegildo Costantini and Pietro Rotati’s painting Ebe rapita dal Tempo (1769-70). From this room you then enter the Audience Hall, the largest and most outstanding room of the gallery, whose vault is decorated with Ermenegildo Costantini’s painting Il Trionfo dei Borghese e delle Arti (1773-74), which has been addressed by critique as “the final rumble of the Roman Baroque”. The family emblem is depicted as if it were in Heaven and crowned in a triumph of putti, amongst the Arts – sculpture, architecture, painting and music – and the Sciences, depicted by the side with a magnificence of colours and gold decorations.
In the last room, which points towards north, there is the Riconciliazione di Venere e Minerva painted by Pietro Angeletti (1773-1775) surrounded by monochrome panels depicting scenes from the Trojan War.