Rome’s Torlonia Collection Finally Open To Public

After about half a century of setbacks and the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Torlonia Collection was finally revealed to the public in October at the Villa Caffarelli in Rome’s Capitoline Museums. Called the Torlonia Marbles: Collecting Masterpieces, the collection amasses 620 ancient Greek and Roman busts, statues, vases, and sarcophagi dating back to the 5th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D., reported Elisabetta Povoledo of The New York Times.

Torlonia Collection’s only bronze statue, Roman general Germanicus dating back to the 1st Century A.D. Copyright image by Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times

The collection was privately owned by Prince Alessandro Torlonia and displayed briefly around 1875 to a select few. By the second World War, all 620 pieces were hidden away to safeguard them entirely. In the 1960s, the Italian government worked to reach an agreement with the Torlonia family to open the collection to the public to be stalled for the next few decades. It wasn’t until 2016 that the heirs of the Torlonia prince, the foundation managing the pieces, and the government reached an accord to display the collection. Sponsored by Bvlgari, 92 out of the total 620 works were restored at the Torlonia Laboratory for the viewing until June 2021.

Greek marble relief of a ship and port scene. Copyright image by Lorenzo de Masi for Fondazione Torlonia via The New York Times

Crispian Balmer of Dailymail reported that Anna Maria Carruba assisted in the restoration of the pieces. While many of them had been restored from 1600 onwards, the process included cleaning and removing the dust and material used in the previous restoration.

Installation view of the Torlonia collection. Copyright image by Oliver Astrologo for Fondazione Torlonia via The Art Newspaper

According to James Imam from The Art Newspaper, the “key players” in bringing the collection to the public eye had been curators Carlo Gasparri and Salvatore Settis, the luxury brand, Bvlgari, and David Chipperfield, a British architect who designed the exhibition.

Torlonia Marbles: Collecting Masterpieces. Copyright image by Oliver Astrologo for Fondazione Torlonia via The Art Newspaper

Balmer reported that post-June 2021, this “collection of collections”— as called by Settis— would tour “at least one other European country and the United States” before returning to Italy. In conversation with Imam, Italian culture and heritage minister Dario Franceschini said that Italy is “ready to provide resources and spaces” to give the collection a permanent home. Franceschini had also revealed a €40 million allocation to renovate Palazzo Silvestri-Rivaldi for the same.


Featured Image Via Unsplash

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