The Cembalo Gallery in Rome
La Cembalo Gallery occupies part of what in the 1700 was the Galleria Terrena del Palazzo, overlooking the nymphaeum with the magnificent fountains of the Rainaldi, over time become an exhibition space in which to show the collection of paintings and sculptures of the Borghese family. It currently represents an ideal setting for art exhibitions, private events or conferences.
After crossing the courtyard of the palace, you enter the gallery right through the garden, characterized by geometric green segments and small boxwoods at the top and crowned by the fountains, which are active in summer and the sound of water adds to the quiet of the garden. A polychrome mosaic surrounds the semicircular staircase that leads to the gallery, which is at a level raised above the green area.
Of the original Galleria Terrena, the Cembalo Gallery it occupies five large communicating rooms, three of which overlook the nymphaeum, with high ceilings adorned with frescoes and gilded stuccos.
The first reception is entrusted to Aurora, which is represented in the large canvas on the ceiling of Francesco Caccianiga (1773) in the act of scattering flowers in the sky at daybreak. The canvas is surrounded by a rich gilded wooden frame, with the heraldic symbols of the family, eagle and dragon, at the ends, as if to underline that at that time the Borghese family was experiencing a rebirth, under the guidance of the head of the family Marcantonio IV.
From the Sala dell'Aurora you get to what was then called the Sala dell'Udienza, where the Prince used to receive at the time of Grand Tour, crowned by a very rich fresco representing 'The Triumph of the Borghese House', by Ermenegildo Costantini (1767-1774), with the family crest brought into glory with exultant putti and with profusion of gold and three-dimensional effects created with stucco on the frames wood.
The Audience Hall is the centerpiece of the gallery and also the larger environment to welcome guests, whether for assemblies or presentations, or for private events.
On the side of Piazza Borghese is the Sala di Ebe, dominated by the image of 'Ebe rapita dal Tempo', a composition with typical Baroque dynamism by Ermenegildo Costantini and Pietro Rotati (1769) in which the goddess of youth is kidnapped by Time, with a gesture and an outlet that recall the Rape of Proserpina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The Sala di Cupido, once anti-chamber of the Princess, is an example of a strictly neoclassical taste decoration, by the hand of the French artist Laurent Pécheux, whose signature can be seen at the base of one of the wall frescoes, with the 1774 date. At the center of the vault, the painting shows 'The Wedding between Love and Psyche' and in the walls on the sides of the vault scenes of moments before the wedding, with Mercury the messenger of love.
Last room in the direction of the Tiber, the Hall of Minerva, still facing the garden: it is said that once contained the famous statue of Hermaphrodite, now in Villa Borghese. In the ceiling the painting by Pietro Angeletti (1773), which depicts 'The reconciliation between Venus and Minerva'. On the sides of the vault, at the hands of Agapito Vitti, monochrome panels with scenes from the Trojan war, in which the goddesses had opposed positions: the duel between Paris and Menelaus, Ulysses and Diomedes, Hector and Venus, the Trojan horse.
The history of the Cembalo Gallery, Palazzo Borghese
The history of Cembalo Gallery it is naturally that of the Palazzo Borghese, which is built over the years between the 1605 and the 1676, incorporating pre-existing residential structures. Like many Roman palaces, it saw the participation of various famous architects who intervened in the different phases of its growth until the completion of the great volume we see today, from the irregular shape stretched towards the river that gave it the name of Cembalo Borghese.
"Therefore it is said by the vulgar that the four wonders of Rome are the die of Farnese, the harpsichord Borghese, the scale of Caetani and the gate of Carboniani". Giuseppe Antonio Guattani, Rome described and illustrated, (1805)
The first and oldest nucleus of the building is the one on Largo della Fontanella di Borghese, a small palace by Tommaso del Giglio based on a design by Vignola (1590), later by Cardinal Deza, who entrusted its extension to Martino Longhi the Elder and later to Flaminio Ponzio. The insignia of the Deza and of the Giglio are still visible in the archivolts of the arches of the courtyard near the entrance. With the purchase by Cardinal Camillo Borghese, the future Pope Paul V, the works continued until 1613 and saw further interventions in the following years at the hands of Carlo Maderno, Giovanni Vasanzio (1670) and Carlo Rainaldi.
In the use of the rooms of the Palace over the years, the Galleria Terrena soon acquired the function of space to receive visitors and to show the collection of works of art that Pope Paul V was accumulating to give prestige to the name of the family and of the building , above all thanks to the taste and skill of the cardinal nephew Scipio. Following what at the time seems to have become a trend in all the important buildings of the city, the ground floor was used as a reception space, independent from the residential parts, which could accommodate visitors without hindering the privacy of the inhabitants.
For more than two centuries the Borghese collection filled 12 on the ground floor and was visited by travelers Grand Tour, which in those rooms were received by the prince and princess, in competition with the other palaces of the patrician families of the city. They were present among other works by Raphael, Domenichino, Andrea del Sarto, Lorenzo Lotto, Van Dyck, Correggio, Titian, just to name a few. In this function of the exhibition gallery will then be surpassed and replaced by the villa at the Pincio, the current Galleria Borghese, built between the 1608 and 1613 as a container of the collection and subsequently redecorated in the middle of the 1700, studying the style of each of the rooms of the villa in function of the works it was intended to contain.
What we see today in the frescoes on the vaults of the Cembalo Gallery is the result of the cycle of new decorations organized by the head of the family in the middle of the 1700, Marcantonio IV, son of Agnese Colonna, in view of his marriage to Anna Maria Salviati (1775).
The chained halls constituted the private apartments of the prince and princess, he facing the outside, she with the windows on the secret garden. It seems unlikely that the premises were really used to live, if not partially during the summer months.
If all the rooms have very high ceilings frescoed and decorated with wooden frames and gilded stuccos very important, each room has its own style, taking inspiration from the painting that stands at the center of the vault. For example, we have a decidedly neoclassical hall designed by the French Laurent Pécheux (1774), one with the fresco of the Triumph of Casa Borghese and the Arts of Ermenegildo Costantini (1767), which was defined by an art critic " last cry of the Roman Baroque ", being a veritable citation of the ceiling of the Church of Jesus painted by the Kiss (Giovan Battista Gaulli) one hundred years before.
Large original wooden doors with rare alabaster frames connect the rooms, which overlook the quiet of the garden and the fountains.
Services: events, congresses and meetings in Rome
The current activity of the Cembalo Gallery consists in the organization of 'fine art' photography exhibitions. The programming and selection of artists is done in a completely independent way and the promotion of Italian and international artists is carried out, also with participation in dedicated trade fairs in the sector.
The rooms can be made available for one or more days to host private events, exhibitions of works of art or business meetings where you need different environments in which to distribute the work of different groups.
To this end, the gallery is equipped with 100 conference chairs, several consoles, 80 '' TV screen and an amplification system with microphones.
It makes use of an external catering for business lunches or refreshments during company meetings.
On request it is possible to organize refreshments outside, in the nymphaeum area, subject to authorization by the condominium of Palazzo Borghese.