Monday, October 30, 2017


The 620 pieces of the TORLONIA COLLECTION founded in 1859 by Alessandro Torlonia were exhibited until the Fifties in seventy-seven rooms
It was sculptures, busts, sarcophagi and ancient reliefs collected by the family and, for the most part, bought from the most important private collections:
115 pieces from the Giustiniani collection and other pieces from the Savelli and Caetani collections as well as from the Cavaceppi studio
The collection was later enriched with the excavations in areas owned by the Torlonia family: Villa dei Quintili, the Circus of Maxentius on the Appian Way (the tomb of Romulus was transformed into a “country home” with the addition of a porch in the nineteenth century) Cerveteri, the Port of Trajan in Fiumicino and the area around Lake Fucino which was drained by Alessandro in the mid-nineteenth century (he later founded the Bank of Fucino of which the family is still a shareholder) and other locations
It is considered the most important private collection of ancient sculptures in the world and it constitutes for quantity and quality almost a third of all the ancient sculptures in Rome
Among the masterpieces shamefully hidden:
The famous “Hestia Giustiniani” perhaps a copy of the second century AD from a bronze original of about 470 BC
In the seventeenth century it was property of the Giustiniani family who kept it in their palace and from whom took its name
Hestia was the Greek goddess of hearth and home, even if this beautiful Roman statue was perhaps a Hera or Demeter, as a type of representation in the round of Hestia in Greek sculpture is not yet known
Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717/78) considered it erroneously an example of the kind of classical Greek art described as “severe”
The statue is now in the Palazzo Torlonia on Via della Conciliazione
Other pieces:
Two copies of the “Eirene” from the original by Kefisodotos
An “Athlete” from the original by Myron of Eleutere (about 500/about 440 BC)
A “Diadoumenos” from the original by Polykleitos of Argos (about 490/about 425 BC)
A copy of a “Feminine Figure” from the group of Menelaus
An “Aphrodite Anadyomene”
A “Statue of woman sitting with a mastiff” among the most significant examples of such neo-attic representations
“Relief with Vesta during a sacrifice” found near the Port of Trajan in 1867
A “Greek object offered as a vow to some Athenians deity” of the fifth century BC
“107 Imperial Busts” including “Colossal and veiled portrait of Plotina”, “Julia Domna”, “Portrait of a Man veiled known as Massenzio” from the Circus of Maxentius and some of the most remarkable examples of portraits dating back to the late empire
Until the Fifties the collection was accessible to those who would ask the Torlonia, but they would discretionarily limit the entrance only to the rich and nobles, so that it is said that Professor Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli had to pretend to work as a cleaner to see the collection
The end of this amazing private museum was chilling: in 1979 seventy-seven rooms were converted into 93 STUDIO APARTMENTS for rent. The whole operation was done in a completely illegal way as it was established by the Supreme Court!
The poor sculptures were either closed in boxes in the basement where they are still now or were transported elsewhere
For years a controversy has been going on between the City of Rome and the Torlonia family so that the 620 treasures could be finally exhibited
Palazzo Rivaldi, which is being renovated, has been proposed as a suitable place for a new museum

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