In 1775 Prince Marcantonio Borghese IV (1730-1800) and the architect Antonio Asprucci (1723-1808) embarked upon the decorative renovation of the Villa Borghese that still largely determines the appearance of this justly celebrated showplace on Rome's Monte Pincio. Initially their attention focused on the Casino. The principal building at the villa, the Casino functioned from the first as a semipublic museum, and by 1625 it housed much of the Borghese's outstanding collection of ancient and "modern" sculpture. Integrating this statuary with vast ceiling paintings and richly ornamented surfaces, Asprucci created across the rooms of the renovated Casino a dazzling and unified homage to the Borghese family, from its legendary ancestors to its newly born heir.
In Making a Prince's Museum, Carole Paul reads this inventive decorative program as a set of exemplary scenes for the education of the ideal Borghese prince. Her wide-ranging essay also situates the Villa Borghese among the sumptuous palaces and suburban villas of Rome's collectors of antiquities and outlines the renovated Casino's pivotal role in the historic transition from the semiprivate princely collection to the modern public museum. Rounding out this volume are a catalog of the Getty Research Institute's fifty-nine drawings for the refurbishing of the Villa Borghese and Alberta Campitelli's discussion of sketches for the short-lived Museo di Gabii, the villa's other antiquities museum.
Making a Prince's Museum was published in conjunction with an exhibition at the Getty Research Institute in 2000.
Carol Paul is a lecturer in the history of art and architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Alberta Campitelli is director of the Unitá Organizzativa di Ville e Parchi Storici, Sovraintendenza Beni Culturali, Comune di Roma.
Series: Bibliographies & Dossiers