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Making a Prince's Museum: Drawings for the Late-Eighteenth-Century Redecoration of the Villa Borghese

  • Carole Paul
    With an essay by Alberta Campitelli

    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, the author 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 a discussion of sketches for the short-lived Museo di Gabii, the villa's other antiquities museum. The book was published in conjunction with an exhibition that was held 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.

    "Paul's essay and entries are essential to appreciating the programmatic as well as visual aspects of the sheets on display, interwoven as they are in a rich web of allusions, associations, and symbolic references that no exhibition could reveal."
    —Eighteenth-Century Studies

    "Generously illustrated."
    —Easy Reader

    "This is a very well illustrated and interesting volume, with a good bibliography."
    —Architectural Science Review

    "Informative, engaging reading and highly recommended to students of architecture and the history of 18th Century museum development."
    —Midwest Book Review

    "Essential reading for all those interested in this important transition from the princely collection to the public museum."
    —American Society for Eighteenth-century Studies Book Reviews Online

    180 pages
    7 x 10 inches
    13 color and 59 b/w illustrations
    ISBN 978-0-89236-539-5

    Getty Publications
    Imprint: Getty Research Institute