One of the most important private collections of ancient Greek and Roman marble sculptures is going on display in Rome as part of the Eternal City’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
The 90 works from the Torlonia Collection were opening Monday in the newly refurbished Villa Caffarelli, one of the Capitoline Museum’s exhibition spaces overlooking the ancient Roman Forum. Organizers said there were plans to offer to lend the works to other museums, but said the coronavirus pandemic had put those plans on hold for now.
The 620-piece Torlonia Collection is considered one of the greatest private collections of classical art, featuring marble busts, reliefs, sarcophagi and statues. It was begun by one of Rome’s 19th century patricians, Prince Alessandro Torlonia, and was created in part from archaeological excavations of the Torlonia family’s various estates in Rome.
The selections presented in the new exhibit recount the history of the collection’s growth itself and include the 1884 catalogue the prince commissioned to show off his collection when he opened his own museum to house it.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini told a press conference Monday that it was unfortunate that COVID-19 restrictions would limit the number of people who can visit as well as the show’s near-term lending prospects. But he said the works “take your breath away.”
The new exhibit, which is open until June 29, is the fruit of a public-private collaboration among the culture ministry, the city of Rome, the Torlonia Foundation and key sponsor Bulgari, the Roman jeweler.