Exquisite Collections–Greek and Roman Statues of Italian Aristocratic Families: A Four-Part Course with Livia Galante - Context Travel

Exquisite Collections–Greek and Roman Statues of Italian Aristocratic Families: A Four-Part Course with Livia Galante


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This four-part course led by an expert in ancient Roman culture and topography will explore the Greek and Roman statues in the collections of four great families of Rome: Farnese, Borghese, Ludovisi, and Torlonia. From the end of the fifteenth-century, the rebirth of interest in classical antiquity inspired all noble families to acquire and collect ancient statues as a means to show their wealth and good taste.

These extraordinary collections of antiquities were, sometimes, heavily restored. When the wealthy patrons owned only a part of the body of a statue they appointed well-known artists to integrate the ancient pieces, giving the statues back beauty and meaning, while also, often creating hybrids. These heavy restorations, very different from conservation practices today, also aimed to grant collectors the possibility to display a whole series of figures, such as certain groups of divinities (the Muses), the series of the Emperors, or some mythical characters. To pursue this goal, if they did not have a certain statue, they would have it remade. Emblematic is the famous group of Cupid and Psyche of the Ludovisi collection: a male torso was transformed into a female bust with breasts being attached to change it into a rather colossal Psyche. Often the ancient part of the statue was minimal, but still necessary, in the Renaissance perspective, as it provided a reproduction of the subject needed to complete the collection.

Led by an expert on Ancient Roman Topography, Livia Galante, this course will explore the great collections of antiquities in Rome, most now dispersed in important museums of the world. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with increased comprehension of collections as well as the evolution of Roman and Greek art through absolute masterpieces

 

Lecture 1: Farnese

A legendary collection of statues, bas-reliefs, and inscriptions was begun by Alessandro Farnese, the future Pope Paul III (1543-1549) and continued by his nephews, the Duke of Parma Ottavio Farnese and Cardinals Alessandro and Ranuccio. It stood as one of the largest, if not the largest, historical collection of antique sculptures in the world. Michelangelo designed internal niches to display statuary in the massive Palazzo Farnese in Rome. Many of the most famous works in the Farnese collection, such as the Farnese Hercules and the Farnese Bull, Flora, Gladiator, Athena, and others were all found at the Baths of Caracalla. Our first lecture will explore this stunning collection, which is now displayed in its entirety at the Italian National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

Lecture 2: Borghese

The Borghese Collection of ancient Roman sculptures, together with old masters and modern art, was started by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V. The artworks were displayed just off the walls in the villa the cardinal had built and in its lavish gardens as the ancient Romans did. The collection grew with the purchase of statues from the collections of Lelio Coeli and Giovanni Battista della Porta. In 1807, Prince Camillo Borghese, an heir of Scipione, was forced to sell to his brother-in-law, Napoleon Bonaparte, 695 pieces from the family collection. Ennio Quirino Visconti, a famous antiquarian of the time, was responsible for selecting the most important works to be sent to Paris. Camillo replaced the missing statues with similar ones found for sale and through excavations in the Borghese properties in Lazio. Our second lecture aims to present the pristine collection and how it changed after the “sale” to Napoleon, focusing on some extraordinary pieces such as the Borghese Vase, Silenus with Baby Dionysus, and the Hermaphroditus on a Mattress sculpted by G. Lorenzo Bernini.

Lecture 3: Ludovisi

The Ludovisi marble collection was acquired between 1621 and 1623 by Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, nephew of Pope Gregory XV, for his villa on the Quirinal Hill. Cardinal Ludovisi acquired a rather impressive quantity of ancient statues, often restored by extraordinary artists such as G. Lorenzo Bernini and Alessandro Algardi. Among the most impressive pieces, the statue of Ares, the Dying Gaul, the sarcophagus Ludovisi and the mysterious Ludovisi Throne, recovered in 1887 during the urban development works undertaken in the area surrounding the villa. In the 1990s they were then transferred to the Palazzo Altemps, a 1500s stately mansion, now one of the four seats of the National Roman Museum. We’ll discuss these magnificent ancient statues that are properly displayed in the elegant rooms of the palazzo.

Lecture 4: Torlonia

This collection was begun by one of Rome's nineteenth-century patricians, Prince Alessandro Torlonia, and was created in part from archaeological excavations of the Torlonia family's various estates in Rome. Other pieces arrived after the acquisitions of the collections of ancient sculptures of Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, of the Giustiniani and the Cesi families. The Torlonia is one of the world’s most precious private collections, with 620 statues depicting Greek and Roman gods, goddesses, and mythical heroes, as well as portraits of Roman emperors. Unseen by the public and known to most scholars only through its catalog, published in the late nineteenth century, these 96 sculptures are now on view in a beautiful exhibit in the Capitoline Museums. Among the magnificent pieces, the Maiden of Vulci, the Goat restored by Bernini, and the Hestia Giustiniani.

Livia obtained a degree in Archaeology at the Sapienza University of Rome and has a Master's degree in the History and Conservation of Cultural Heritage from the University of Roma Tre. Her main field of interest is ancient Roman topography and early Christian architecture; however, she is an accomplished scholar whose teaching ability extends to the Renaissance and Baroque Rome. As a native Roman, Livia is very enthusiastic in sharing the deep love and knowledge she has for her hometown with clients.

 

How does it work?

This is a four-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background on feminist art history, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $140 for four lectures.

Is a recording available?

In general, our courses are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 8 reviews
100%
(8)
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A
A.
Livia's seminars are an adventure in learning

Livia's enthusiasm for her subject sends me on a reading journey of Rome's history. I have seen all these collections but they are more alive to me now because of her explanation of their back story which you do not get from a guide book or from articles. She has helped me to understand the why of things.

A
A.
A Fascinating Overview of Four Collections

The instructor gives a very comprehensive overview of four collections, looking at the family and collection history over many centuries, and looks in depth at many of the individual sculptures and works in the collection. She is also wonderful at context, weaving together the threads of the works with other historic works, myths, and events in the Greek and Roman world. She is passionate and engaging in her lectures, and despite being familiar with some of the material, I always learn something new and interesting in the presentations.

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment

N
N.L.
Collecting in Italy - the exquisite sculpture

This was the third segment of a wonderful course exploring the principles of collecting and rehousing some of the great sculpture of Rome. Livia Galante is so enthusiastic and precise: she's a treasure.

N
N.L.
Sculpture and Power in Rome

Another wonderful segment of the four-part study of Italian collections of Greek and Roman statues. Livia Galante's intelligence and enthusiasm keep you on the edge of your seat!

Customer Reviews

Based on 8 reviews
100%
(8)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
A
A.
Livia's seminars are an adventure in learning

Livia's enthusiasm for her subject sends me on a reading journey of Rome's history. I have seen all these collections but they are more alive to me now because of her explanation of their back story which you do not get from a guide book or from articles. She has helped me to understand the why of things.

A
A.
A Fascinating Overview of Four Collections

The instructor gives a very comprehensive overview of four collections, looking at the family and collection history over many centuries, and looks in depth at many of the individual sculptures and works in the collection. She is also wonderful at context, weaving together the threads of the works with other historic works, myths, and events in the Greek and Roman world. She is passionate and engaging in her lectures, and despite being familiar with some of the material, I always learn something new and interesting in the presentations.

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment

N
N.L.
Collecting in Italy - the exquisite sculpture

This was the third segment of a wonderful course exploring the principles of collecting and rehousing some of the great sculpture of Rome. Livia Galante is so enthusiastic and precise: she's a treasure.

N
N.L.
Sculpture and Power in Rome

Another wonderful segment of the four-part study of Italian collections of Greek and Roman statues. Livia Galante's intelligence and enthusiasm keep you on the edge of your seat!