On Oct. 14, a selection of over 90 ancient marble sculptures from one of the world’s most prestigious private collections, The Torlonia Collection, will be on display in an exhibition titled “The Torlonia Marbles: Collecting Masterpieces” at Rome’s Capitolini Museums at Villa Caffarelli.
Comprising several important collections, the exhibited marbles are a small portion of the over 600 in the Torlonia Collection, known wholly as the collection of collections, according to the press release.
Rome is particularly important in the history of art collecting—as the birthplace of collecting ancient sculptures for private display. Through the “Torlonia Marbles” exhibition, curators Salvatore Settis and Carlo Gasparri, who are archaeologists and art historians from the Academie dei Lincei, chart the history of collecting ancient Greek and Roman sculptures.
The exhibition begins with the Torlonia Museum founded in 1875 by Prince Alessandro Torlonia, in an old grain store, to publicly display his vast collection. There it remained until the museum’s closure in the 1940s. This section replicates the original museum layout, which only small groups accessed.
The rest of the exhibition explores how the Torlonia Collection came together, traveling chronologically backward. For instance, it starts in the 19th century, when the Torlonia family excavated their vast estates. Some of what they discovered is on display.
Moving further back in time, we see the 18th-century collection of one of Rome’s finest art restorers of ancient statuary: sculptor Bartolomeo Cavaceppi. Included in Cavaceppi’s collection are rare, ancient sculpture collections from 15th- and 16th-century collectors; most collections from such times had been dispersed.
The Torlonia family also acquired the most remarkable marbles from the 17th-century collection of Marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani. In his collection are the astonishing statues of the goddess Hestia Giustiniani and King Euthydemus of Bactriana, and an astounding array of imperial busts and portraits.
The exhibition ends in the Marcus Aurelius Exedra, a hall displaying sculptures from the Capitolini Museums’ collection. Here, the curators connect the privately owned Torlonia Collection to some of Rome’s famous ancient sculptures, donated by Pope Sixtus IV in 1471 to be part of a public collection: the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, the Capitoline she-wolf, and the bronzes of the Laterano.
The exhibition is the result of an agreement between the Italian Heritage and Tourism Ministry and the Fondazione Torlonia.
“The Torlonia Marbles: Collecting Masterpieces” exhibition at Rome’s Capitolini Museums at Villa Caffarelli runs until Jun. 29, 2021, when it then embarks on an international tour that includes Washington. To find out more, visit FondazioneTorlonia.org