BORGHESE GALLERY TOUR - Abraham Lincoln - James M. McPherson

Rick Steves Rome 2016 - Rick Steves, Gene Openshaw (2015)

BORGHESE GALLERY TOUR

More than just a great museum, the Borghese Gallery is a beautiful villa set in the greenery of surrounding gardens. You get to see art commissioned by the luxury-loving Borghese family displayed in the very rooms for which it was created. Frescoes, marble, stucco, and interior design enhance the masterpieces. This is a place where—regardless of whether you learn a darn thing—you can sit back and enjoy the sheer beauty of the palace and its art.

It’s hard to believe that a family of cardinals and popes would display so many works with secular and sensual—even erotic—themes. But the Borgheses felt that all forms of human expression, including pagan myths and physical passion, glorified God.

Orientation

(See “Borghese Gallery-Ground Floor” map, here.)

Cost: €11, includes €2 reservation fee; covered by Roma Pass (see “Reservations” below); free and very crowded first Sun of the month.

Hours: Tue-Sun 9:00-19:00, closed Mon.

Reservations: Reservations are mandatory and simple to get. It’s easiest to book online on their user-friendly website, www.galleriaborghese.it. When the site asks what “Dispatch Type” you want, choose “Pick-up at the venue box office.” You can also reserve by telephone (tel. 06-32810, press 2 for English). Call during Italian office hours: Mon-Fri 9:00-18:00, Sat 9:00-13:00, office closed Sat in Aug and Sun year-round.

Every two hours, 360 people are allowed to enter the museum. Entry times are 9:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, and 17:00 (and you’ll get exactly two hours for your visit). The sooner you reserve, the better—at least several days in advance for a weekday visit, and at least a week ahead for weekends.

After you reserve a day and time, you’ll get a claim number. The museum recommends that you arrive at the gallery 30 minutes before your appointed time to pick up your ticket in the lobby on the lower level. After getting your ticket, check your bags (free and mandatory), and then peruse the gift shop or relax in the garden before entering at the designated time. Don’t cut it close—arriving late can mean forfeiting your reservation.

You can use a Roma Pass for entry, but you’re still required to make a reservation (by phone only—not online; specify that you have the Roma Pass).

Getting There: The museum is set idyllically but inconveniently in the vast Villa Borghese Gardens (see here). To avoid missing your appointment, allow yourself plenty of time to find the place. A taxi drops you 100 yards from the museum. Your destination is the Galleria Borghese (gah-leh-REE-ah bor-GAY-zay). Don’t tell the cabbie “Villa Borghese,” which is the park, not the museum.

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Bus #910 goes from Termini train station (and Piazza Repubblica) to the Via Pinciana stop, 100 yards from the museum. Coming from Largo Argentina, bus #116 drops you off inside the park, at the Cavalli Marini stop, 200 yards from the museum.

By Metro, from the Barberini Metro stop, walk 10 minutes up Via Veneto, enter the park, and turn right, following signs another 10 minutes to the Borghese Gallery. From the Flaminio Metro stop (specifically from the traffic island just outside the wall), you can catch bus #61, #89, #160, #490, or #495, any of which will take you up the street between the twin columned temples and on a short ride through the Villa Borghese Gardens to Piazzale Brasile (the last stop in the park, just before the city wall); from there it’s a 10-minute walk up to the museum. The Spagna Metro stop is equally close, but involves a circuitous walk through underground passageways—a less-than-idyllic approach.

Information: Tel. 06-32810 or 06-841-3979, www.galleriaborghese.it.

Tours: Guided English tours are offered at 9:10 and 11:10 (€6.50). You can’t book a tour when you make your museum reservation—sign up as soon as you arrive. Or consider the excellent 1.5-hour audioguide tour (€5), which covers more than this chapter.

Length of This Tour: Two hours is all you get...and you’ll want every minute. But if you have less time, focus on the ground-floor sculptures, especially Bernini.

Museum Strategy: Visits are strictly limited to two hours. Budget most of your time for the more interesting ground floor, but set aside 30 minutes for the paintings of the Pinacoteca upstairs (highlights are marked by the audioguide icons). Though my tour starts on the ground floor, you can avoid the crowds by seeing the Pinacoteca first. The fine bookshop is best visited outside your two-hour entry window (it closes 30 minutes before the gallery).

Services: Baggage check is free, mandatory, and strictly enforced. Even small purses must be checked. The checkroom does not take coats. There’s a WC in the staircase between the two floors.

Photography: Allowed without flash.

Cuisine Art: A café is on-site. A picnic-friendly park with benches is just in front of the museum (you can check your picnic with your bags and feast after your visit). CineCaffè, located at Casa del Cinema within the park, has a café and offers an elegant buffet-lunch in its restaurant (€15, Mon-Fri 12:30-15:00, nice seating inside and out, a pleasant 10-minute walk directly downhill from the museum, near the bike-rental stand).

Starring: Sculptures by Bernini and Canova; paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, and Titian; and the elegant villa itself.

OVERVIEW

As you visit this palace-in-a-garden, consider its purpose. Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1576-1633) wanted to create a place just outside the city where he could showcase his fine art while wining and dining the VIPs of his age. He had the villa built, collected ancient works, and hired the best artists of his day. In pursuing the optimistic spirit of the Renaissance, they invented Baroque.

The cardinal was controversial because he was not religious. But as nepotism was routine in the 17th century, just being a nephew of the pope was justification enough to be made a cardinal. And the power of a cardinal could be parlayed into great wealth, still on incredible display here in the gallery.

The Tour Begins

(See “Borghese Gallery-Ground Floor” map, here.)

✵ Go downstairs (into the basement) to pick up your ticket. Head back outside and up the stairs to begin the tour on the ground floor, in the main entry hall. If you want to start in the Pinacoteca, find the entrance at the far end of the basement and go upstairs to the second floor.

GROUND FLOOR (SCULPTURE)

Main Entry Hall

The first room that guests saw upon entry was a “theater of the arts”—a multimedia and multi-era extravaganza of art treasures. Baroque frescoes on the ceiling, Greek statues along the walls, and ancient Roman mosaics on the floor capture the essence of the collection—a gathering of beautiful objects from every age and culture inside a lavish 17th-century villa.

The cardinal was a man of power—gathering all this culture and showing it off added to his prestige. And with men of great culture like him, the glories of ancient Rome and Greece were being surpassed in their own time, and here that could be celebrated. So he made this palace not to live in but as a museum to flaunt his treasures.

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Five second- and third-century mosaics from a private Roman villa adorn the floor with colorful, festive scenes of slaughter. Gladiators—as famous in their day as the sports heroes of our age—fight animals and each other with swords, whips, and tridents. The Greek letter Θ marks the dead. Notice some of the gladiators’ pro-wrestler nicknames: “Cupid(-o),” “Serpent(-ius),” “Licentious(-us).” On the far left, a scene shows how “Alumnusvic” killed “Mazicinus” and left him lying upside down in a pool of blood.

High up on the wall is a thrilling first-century Greek sculpture of a horse falling. The Renaissance-era rider was added by Pietro Bernini, father of the famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

✵ We’ll tour this floor counterclockwise. From the entrance, turn right and head into...

Room I

Antonio Canova—Pauline Borghese as Venus (Paolina Borghese come Venere, 1808)

Napoleon’s sister went the full monty for the sculptor Canova, scandalizing Europe. (“How could you have done such a thing?!” she was asked. She replied, “The room wasn’t cold.”) With the famous nose of her conqueror brother, she strikes the pose of Venus as conqueror of men’s hearts. Her relaxed afterglow and slight smirk say she’s already had her man. The light dent she puts in the mattress makes this goddess human.

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Notice the contrasting textures that Canova (1757-1822) gets out of the pure white marble: the rumpled sheet versus her smooth skin, the satiny-smooth pillows and mattress versus the creases in them, her porcelain skin versus the hint of a love handle. Canova polished and waxed the marble until it looked as soft and pliable as cloth.

The mythological pose, the Roman couch, the ancient hairdo, and the calm harmony make Pauline the epitome of the Neoclassical style.

Room II

Gian Lorenzo Bernini—David (1624)

Duck! David twists around to put a big rock in his sling. He purses his lips, knits his brow, and winds his body like a spring as his eyes lock onto the target: Goliath, who’s somewhere behind us, putting us right in the line of fire.

The face of David is a self-portrait of the 25-year-old Bernini (1598-1680). Looking ready to take on the world, David is charged with the same fighting energy that fueled the missionaries and conquistadors of the Counter-Reformation.

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Compared with Michelangelo’s David, this is unvarnished realism—an unbalanced pose, bulging veins, unflattering face, and armpit hair. Michelangelo’s David thinks, whereas Bernini’s acts—with lips pursed, eyes concentrating, and sling stretched. Bernini slays the pretty-boy Davids of the Renaissance and prepares to invent Baroque.

Flanking David are two ancient sarcophagi carved with scenes from the Labors of Hercules (A.D. 160). The twisting bodybuilders’ poses were the Hellenistic inspiration for Bernini’s Baroque. The painting high on the wall between them, by a follower of Caravaggio, shows a triumphant David with the giant’s head.

Room III

Bernini—Apollo and Daphne (Apollo e Dafne, 1625)

Apollo—made stupid by Cupid’s arrow of love—chases after Daphne, who has been turned off by the “arrow of disgust.” Just as he’s about to catch her, she calls to her father to save her. Magically, her fingers begin to sprout leaves, her toes become roots, her skin turns to bark, and she transforms into a tree. Frustrated Apollo will end up with a handful of leaves. (Notice the same scene, colorized, painted on the ceiling above.)

Stand behind the statue to experience it as Bernini originally intended. It’s only when you circle around to the front that he reveals the story’s surprise ending.

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Walk slowly around the statue. Apollo’s back leg defies gravity. Bernini chipped away more than half of the block of marble, leaving airy, open spaces. The marble leaves at the top ring like crystal when struck (but don’t try it). The statue is now in particularly fine form, having spent two years in restoration (described to me as being similar to dental work). It’s virtually flawless—yet Bernini couldn’t entirely overcome Nature’s imperfections. At the last minute, the sculptor discovered a flaw in the marble that now forms a scar across Daphne’s nose.

Bernini carves out some of the chief features of Baroque art. He makes a supernatural event seem realistic. He freezes the scene at its most dramatic, emotional moment. The figures move and twist in unusual poses. He turns the wind machine on, sending Apollo’s cape billowing behind him. It’s a sculpture group of two, forming a scene, rather than a stand-alone portrait. And the subject is classical. Even in strict Counter-Reformation times, there was always a place for groping, if the subject matter had a moral—this one taught you not to pursue fleeting earthly pleasures. And, besides, Bernini tends to show a lot of skin, but no genitals.

The cardinal’s private chapel (between Rooms III and IV) is the only even vaguely religious room in the palace. It’s relatively humble, a reminder that the cardinal probably didn’t stop in here for much longer than tourists do today.

Room IV

Bernini—The Rape of Proserpina (Il Ratto di Proserpina, 1622)

Pluto, King of the Underworld, strides into his realm and shows off his catch—the beautiful daughter of the earth goddess Ceres. His three-headed guard dog, Cerberus (who guards the gates of hell), barks triumphantly. Pluto is squat, thick, and uncouth, with knotted muscles and untrimmed beard. He’s trying not to hurt Proserpina, but she pushes her divine molester away and twists to call out for help. Tears roll down her cheeks. She wishes she could turn into a tree.

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Bernini was the master of marble. With this work, at the age of 24, he had discovered his Baroque niche. While Renaissance works were designed to be seen from the front, Baroque is theater-in-the-round—full of action, designed to be experienced as you walk around it. Look how Pluto’s fingers dig into her frantic body as if it were real flesh. Bernini picked out this Carrara marble, knowing that its relative suppleness and ivory hue would lend itself to a fleshy statue.

In a niche over Pluto’s right shoulder, find...

Artist Unknown—Diana the Hunter (Artemide)

The goddess has been running through the forest. Now she’s spotted her prey and slows down, preparing to string her (missing) bow with an arrow. Or is she smoking a (missing) cigarette? Scholars debate it.

The statues in the niches are classical originals. Diana the Hunter is a rare Greek original, with every limb and finger intact, from the second century B.C. The traditional contrapposto pose (weight on one leg) and idealized grace were an inspiration for artists such as Canova, who grew tired of Bernini’s Baroque bombast.

The Marbles in Room IV

The many ancient Roman statues and portrait busts of Roman emperors in this room were intended as a reminder that the pope was essentially a king, the successor to ancient Roman rulers of the past. (Until around 1800, popes held vast political—and even military—power.)

Appreciate the beauty of the different types of marble in the room: Bernini’s ivory Carrara, Diana’s translucent white, purple porphyry emperors and the granite-like columns supporting them, wood-grained pilasters on the walls, and the various colors on the floor—green, red, gray, lavender, and yellow, some grainy, some “marbled” like a steak. Some of the world’s most beautiful and durable things have been made from the shells of sea creatures layered in sediment, fossilized into limestone, then baked and crystallized by the pressure of the earth—marble.

✵ Before leaving this room, notice the staircase in the corner. You’ll later return here in order to reach the Pinacoteca upstairs. But for now, continue through Room V and into...

Room VI

Bernini—Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius (1618-1619)

Aeneas’ home in Troy is in flames, and he escapes with the three most important things: his family (elderly father Anchises on his shoulder, baby boy Ascanius at his leg), his household gods (the statues in Dad’s hands), and the Eternal Flame (carried by his son). They’re all in shock, lost in thought, facing an uncertain future. Aeneas isn’t even looking where he’s going; he just puts one foot in front of the other. Little do they know that eventually they’ll wind up in Italy, where—according to legend—Aeneas will house the flame in the Temple of Vesta and found the city of Rome (and the Borghese dynasty).

Bernini was just 20 when he started this, his first major work for Cardinal Borghese. Bernini was probably helped by his dad, who nurtured the child prodigy much like Leopold mentored Mozart, but without the rivalry. Bernini’s portrayal of human flesh—from baby fat to middle-aged muscle to sagging decrepitude—is astonishing. Still, the flat-footed statue just stands there—it lacks the Baroque energy of his more mature work. More lively are the reliefs up at the ceiling, with their dancing, light-footed soldiers with do-si-do shields.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680)

A Renaissance Man in Counter-Reformation times, Bernini almost personally invented the Baroque style, transforming the city of Rome. If you’re visiting Rome, you will see Bernini’s work, guaranteed.

Bernini was a child prodigy in his father’s sculpting studio, growing up among Europe’s rich and powerful. His flamboyant personality endeared him to his cultured employers—the popes in Rome, Louis XIV in France, and Charles I in England. He was extremely prolific, working fast and utilizing an army of assistants.

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Despite the fleshiness and sensuality of his works, Bernini was a religious man, seeing his creativity as an extension of God’s. In stark contrast to the Protestant world’s sobriety, Bernini shamelessly embraced pagan myths and nude goddesses, declaring them all part of the “catholic”—that is, universal—church.

Bernini, a master of multimedia, was a...

✵ Sculptor (Borghese Gallery and St. Teresa in Ecstasy, pictured above and described on here)

✵ Architect (elements of St. Peter’s—see “Bernini Blitz,” here, and the Church of Sant’Andrea al Quirinale)

✵ Painter (Borghese Gallery)

✵ Interior decorator (the baldacchino canopy and other works in St. Peter’s)

✵ Civic engineer (he laid out St. Peter’s Square, and he designed and renovated Rome’s fountains in Piazza Navona, Piazza Barberini, Piazza di Spagna, and more).

Even works done by other artists a century later (such as the Trevi Fountain) can be traced indirectly to Bernini, the man who invented Baroque, the “look” of Rome for the next two centuries.

Room VII

The “Theater of the Universe”

The room’s decor sums up the eclectic nature of the villa. You’ve got everything here—your Greek statues, your Roman mosaics, even your fake “Egyptian” sphinxes and hieroglyphs (perfectly symmetrical, in good Neoclassical style). Look out the window past the sculpted gardens at the mesh domes of the aviary, once filled with exotic birds. Cardinal Borghese’s vision was to make a place where art, history, music, nature, and science from every place and time would come together in “a theater of the universe.”

Room VIII

Caravaggio

This room holds the greatest collection of Caravaggio paintings anywhere. Michelangelo Merisi (1571-1610), nicknamed “Caravaggio” after his hometown (near Milan), brought Christian saints down to earth with gritty realism. Caravaggio’s straightforwardness can be a refreshing change in a museum full of (sometimes overly) refined beauty.

Trace the course of his brief, dramatic, and sometimes messy life. Self-Portrait as Bacchus shows twentysomething Caravaggio as he first arrived in Rome, a poor bohemian enjoying the wild life.

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On the facing wall, Boy with a Fruit Basket dates from when he eked out a living painting minor figures in other artists’ paintings. His specialty? Fruit. Ultrarealistic fruit.

In 1600, Caravaggio completed his first major commission, a painting of St. Matthew for San Luigi dei Francesi, a church across town (see here). Overnight, Caravaggio was famous.

In the next 10 years, Caravaggio pioneered Baroque painting, much as Bernini soon would in sculpture. Caravaggio’s unique style combined two striking elements: uncompromising realism and strong light-dark contrasts. His saints (e.g., St. Jerome) are balding and wrinkled. His models were ordinary people—St. John the Baptist is a nude teenager with dirty feet, whose belly fat wrinkles up as he turns. The Madonna of Palafrenieri was forbidden to hang in St. Peter’s because the boy Jesus was buck naked, and because the Madonna’s likeness had been inspired by Rome’s best-known prostitute. Caravaggio’s figures emerge from a dark background, lit by a harsh, unflattering light, which highlights part of the figure, leaving the rest in deep shadows.

Now rich and famous, Caravaggio led a reckless, rock-star existence—trashing hotel rooms and picking fights. In 1606, he killed a man (the details are sketchy) and had to flee Rome to escape prosecution. In one of Caravaggio’s last paintings, David sticks Goliath’s severed head right in our face—and “Goliath” is the artist himself. From exile, Caravaggio appealed to Cardinal Borghese (one of his biggest fans) to get him a pardon. But while returning to Rome, Caravaggio died under mysterious circumstances. Though he lived only to 38, in his short life he’d rocked the world of art.

✵ Caravaggio is the perfect transition between the elegant sculpture rooms and the paintings upstairs, in the other half of the museum. To reach the Pinacoteca, head through the main entry hall back to Room IV, find the entry to the staircase in the far-right corner, and spiral up to the...

PINACOTECA (PAINTING GALLERY)

(See “Borghese Gallery-Pinacoteca” map, here.)

You must visit the Pinacoteca within the two-hour window of time printed on your Borghese Gallery ticket. Most visitors wait until the last half-hour to see the Pinacoteca, so that’s when it’s most crowded (and the ground floor is less crowded). If you see the paintings first, remember to save most of your two-hour visit for the ground-floor sculptures.

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✵ From the top of the stairs or elevator, step into the large Room XIV. This fine room was once a loggia, with open spaces rather than windows. Notice the ceiling and how painted statues literally raise the roof to let in the sun. Along the long wall, you’ll find the following statues and paintings by Bernini. First, look for the two identical white busts set on columns.

Room XIV

Two Bernini Busts of Cardinal Borghese (1632)

Say grazie to the man who built this villa, assembled the collection, and hired Bernini to sculpt masterpieces. The cardinal is caught turning as though to greet someone at a party. There’s a twinkle in his eye, and he opens his mouth to make a witty comment. This man of the cloth was, in fact, a sophisticated hedonist.

Notice that there are two identical versions of this bust. The first one started cracking along the forehead (visible) just as Bernini was finishing it. No problema—Bernini whipped out a replacement in just three days.

Between the busts, find these paintings...

Two Bernini Self-Portraits (Autoritratto Giovanile, 1623, and Autoritratto in età Matura, 1630-1635)

Bernini was a master of many media, including painting. The younger Bernini (age 25) looks out a bit hesitantly, as if he’s still finding his way in high-class society. His jet-black eyes came from his southern Italian mother who, it’s said, also gave him his passionate personality.

In his next self-portrait (roughly age 35), with a few masterpieces under his belt, Bernini shows himself with more confidence and facial hair—the dashing, vibrant man who would rebuild Rome in Baroque style, from St. Peter’s Square to the fountains that dot the piazzas.

On the table below, find the smaller...

Bust of Pope Paul V (1618)

The cardinal’s uncle was a more sober man. As pope, Paul V ruled over the artistic era of Caravaggio and Bernini. He reopened an ancient aqueduct, helped steer St. Peter’s toward completion, and personally met with Galileo to discuss the heliocentrism controversy.

He was also a patron of the arts with a good eye for talent, who hired Bernini’s father. When Paul saw sketches made by little Gian Lorenzo, he announced, “This boy will be the Michelangelo of his age.”

To the right of the Borghese busts, find a small statue of...

The Goat Amalthea with the Child Jupiter and a Faun (La Capra Amaltea con Giove Bambino e un Faunetto, 1609/1615)

Bernini was barely entering puberty when he made this. (That’s about the age when I mastered how to make a Play-Doh snake.) But already its arrangement takes what would become one of Bernini’s trademark forms: the sculptural ensemble. The two kids are milking a goat and drinking it. The kids lean one way, the goat the other, with the whole composition contained neatly in a circle of good fun.

✵ Backtrack to the staircase/elevator and turn right to find...

Room IX

Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio)—Deposition (Deposizione, 1507)

Jesus is being taken from the cross. The men struggle heroically to support him while the women support Mary (in purple), who has fainted. Mary Magdalene rushes up to take Christ’s hand. The woman who commissioned the painting had recently lost her son. She wanted to show the death of a son and the grief of a mother. We see two different faces of grief—mother Mary faints at the horror, while Mary Magdalene still can’t quite believe he’s gone.

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Enjoy the rich colors—solid reds, green, blue, and yellow—that set off Christ’s porcelain-skin body. Note Mary’s face: She’s fainted and is the same deathly gray as her dead son. Notice also the hand of Mary Magdalene holding Jesus’ hand—the pink of the living on the gray of the dead. In true Renaissance style, Raphael (1483-1520) orders the scene with geometrical perfection. The curve of Jesus’ body is echoed by the swirl of Mary Magdalene’s hair, and then by the curve of Calvary Hill, where Christ met his fate.

✵ Also in Room IX, to your left as you face the Deposition, is...

Raphael—Portrait of Young Woman with Unicorn (Ritratto di Giovane Donna con un Unicorno, c. 1506)

Raphael’s genius as a portrait painter was his ability to simultaneously portray his subjects with masterful photorealism, yet also show them in their best light.

This is likely a wedding portrait. The blonde teenager poses, cradling her little dog (transformed later into a unicorn). Her body faces formally in one direction. Meanwhile, her eyes turn the other way, as if someone had just interrupted the sitting, capturing an unplanned moment. And the colors! Her rich red clothes, accented by the ruby pendant; the pellucid skin; and her delicate face, framed perfectly by the window behind, with its pale blue atmosphere. It’s little wonder that Raphael’s sweet style dominated painting for a century, until the coming of Caravaggio.

✵ Continue into...

Room X

Correggio—Danae (c. 1531)

Cupid strips Danae as she spreads her legs, most unladylike, to receive a trickle of gold from the smudgy cloud overhead—this was Zeus’ idea of intercourse with a human. The sheets are rumpled, and Danae looks right where the action is with a smile on her face.

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✵ Backtrack through the room with the two cardinal busts, continue through Room XV, then turn left in the small room to get to...

Room XIX

Domenichino—The Hunt of Diana (La Caccia di Diana, 1616-1617)

Half-naked Greek nymphs are frolicking under the watchful eye of the goddess of the hunt, Diana (with her crescent-moon diadem). Notice the archer’s fine marksmanship with arrows in the post, the ribbon, and the bird. All eyes turn to see that one of the nymphs has successfully shot the bird. The playful scene is epitomized by the girl sprawled backward with abandon in the pond. No man should look at Diana and her nymphs, but we’ve been spotted. (Psst—see the two Peeping Toms on the right?)

✵ Continue into the next room.

Room XX

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)—Sacred and Profane Love (Amor Sacro e Amor Profano, c. 1515)

While you might guess that the naked woman on the right embodies profane love, that’s actually represented by the material girl on the left—with her box of treasures, fortified castle, and dark, claustrophobic landscape. Sacred love is represented by the naked woman who has nothing to hide and enjoys open spaces filled with light, life, a church in the distance, and even a couple of lovers in the field.

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The clothed woman at left has recently married, and she cradles a vase filled with jewels representing the riches of earthly love. Her naked twin on the right holds the burning flame of eternal, heavenly love. Baby Cupid, between them, playfully stirs the waters.

Symbolically, the steeple on the right points up to the love of heaven, while on the left, soldiers prepare to “storm the castle” of the new bride. Miss Heavenly Love looks jealous.

This exquisite painting expresses the spirit of the Renaissance—that earth and heaven are two sides of the same coin. And here in the Borghese Gallery, that love of earthly beauty can be spiritually uplifting—as long as you feel it within two hours.

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