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Villa Albani-Torlonia

Villa Albani-Torlonia-Foto: Massimo Listri - Fondazione Torlonia

Owned by the Torlonia family since 1866, the Villa was built in the mid-18th century for Cardinal Alessandro Albani, nephew of Pope Clement XI, to house the collection of highly valuable Greek and Roman sculptures curated by Johann Joachim Winckelmann, librarian and confidant of the cardinal for the preparation of the collection. The architect Carlo Marchionni (1702-1786) was entrusted with the work and completed it in 1763.

The architectural complex - built on an expanse of countryside planted with vines, leveled following the water supplies, through slopes and terraces - included the villa, terraces and stairways, and on the opposite side a hemicycle with the Kaffeehaus, an Italian garden, fountains, various smaller buildings and a small temple, used as an aviary. The pieces of the cardinal's wonderful collection of antiquities were placed inside the garden of the villa. The villa bears witness to one of the highest expressions of the particular antiquarian taste that established itself in the mid-eighteenth century, in the transition between Rococo and Neoclassicism, in which Rome had become a privileged destination for the Grand Tour. In 1761, in the Gallery, the neoclassical painter Anton Raphael Mengs he painted the Parnassus fresco, perhaps the most important pictorial manifesto of the then nascent neoclassical style.

The inscription in bronze letters on the façade tells its long history: Alexander Albani vir eminentissimus instruxit et ornavit / Alexander Torlonia vir princeps in melius restituit (“The most eminent Alessandro Albani built and adorned / Prince Alessandro Torlonia restored and embellished”).

The Torlonia Collection preserved there is known as the most important private collection of ancient art in the world. This is an exceptional set of works, celebrated in the pages of Johann Joachim Winckelmann: sarcophagi, busts and masterpieces of Greco-Roman statuary, the result of a series of acquisitions from the major Roman patrician collections, as well as excavations in the lands owned by the family. Among these, we remember the famous relief with Antinous from Hadrian's Villa, the relief of Daedalus and Icarus, or the precious bronze statuette of Apollo Sauroctonos by Praxiteles. There were approximately 517 sculptures at the time the collection was established (1875) which reached 620 works a few years later, until reaching the end of the nineteenth century when the collection now included an extraordinary number of ancient marbles. The picture gallery also houses works by Niccolò da Foligno, Perugino, Rubens, Guido Reni, Luca Giordano, Gaspar van Wittel.

Preserved and kept intact up to the present day, the Torlonia collection represents a synthesis of that complex historical-cultural phenomenon referred to as the rediscovery of the Antique which from the early Renaissance laid the foundations in Rome of antiquarian "science", of ancient art collecting up to to the formation of modern museum collections and archaeological studies.

Photo credits: courtesy of Massimo Listri - Torlonia Foundation

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POINT (12.4975781 41.9135883)

To visit Villa Albani Torlonia it is necessary to fill in the request form (see link above) specifying the language spoken and send it by email.

The Torlonia Foundation will propose the first available date after acceptance of the request.

Visits last two hours in the presence of an art historian. They include the Casino Nobile and the collections of Villa Albani Torlonia, the Italian garden and the Kaffeehaus, featuring the collection of recently restored sculptures.

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Villa Albani-Torlonia, Via Salaria, 92
Via Salaria, 92
41° 54' 48.9168" N, 12° 29' 51.2808" E

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