Torlonia marbles moving to Milan. Major exhibition moves to Gallerie d'Italia

From May 25 to Sept. 18, 2022, the major exhibition on the Torlonia Marbles at the Capitoline Museums moves to the Gallerie d'Italia in Milan's Piazza Scala with a new itinerary.

Milanese move for the Torlonia Marbles, the spectacular private collection of classical statuary that featured in last year’s major exhibition at the Capitoline Museums. The Gallerie d’Italia in Milan’s Piazza Scala, the Intesa Sanpaolo museum, is hosting from May 25 to September 18, 2022 the exhibition I Marmi Torlonia. Collecting Masterpieces: 96 marbles from the Torlonia Collection are featured in a major exhibition that, with five new restored works, inaugurates the worldwide exhibition program of the Torlonia Collection.

The majestic consular sarcophagus from the Via Ardeatina will welcome visitors, with a group of Roman togates, to the Galleries’ far-reaching spaces, where the colossal captive Dace similar to specimens from the Forum of Trajan will be placed, alongside the recently restored portraits of Domitian and Antinous, part of the Collection’s celebrated gallery of 122 busts. The exhibition itinerary ends with a section entirely dedicated to restoration, where the 112-piece Hercules, already on display in Rome, will dialogue with the sculpture of Leda with a swan: in both works, different stages of the cleaning process will be visible, telling the story of the challenges facing contemporary restoration.

The exhibition The Torlonia Marbles. Collecting Masterpieces. The Torlonia Marbles. Collecting Masterpieces is the result of an agreement between the Torlonia Foundation and the Ministry of Culture, with the General Directorate for Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape and the Soprintendenza Speciale Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio of Rome, an authentic example of public-private collaboration in the name of culture. The May 2022 appointment is the first stage, after the success of the Roman inauguration, of a tour at important international museums that will end with the identification of a permanent exhibition venue for the new Torlonia Museum; while, at the Torlonia Laboratories in Via della Lungara, the restoration of the Collection’s sculptures continues.

The scientific project curated by Salvatore Settis and Carlo Gasparri is revealed in an exhibition itinerary that, maintaining the fil-rouge of a backward chronology on the history of collecting, highlights the exceptional relevance of the history of the Torlonia Museum at the Lungara, founded by Prince Alessandro Torlonia in 1875. The works (busts, reliefs, statues, sarcophagi and decorative elements), more than 620 pieces described in the Torlonia Museum’s catalog of ancient sculpture (1884-85) published by Carlo Ludovico Visconti, the first integrally illustrated in phototype, are not only distinguished examples of ancient sculpture, but witness to a highly representative cross-section of the history of antiquities collecting in Rome from the 15th to the 19th century. A collection of collections, this collection is the outcome of a long series of acquisitions and some significant shifts of sculptures among the various residences of the Family until the creation of the Torlonia Museum representing the beginnings of antiquities collecting and the transition to the great patrician collections, a cultural process of fundamental importance in which Italy and Rome had an indisputable primacy.

The genesis of the Torlonia Collection was due to the Torlonia family ’s passion for collecting antiquities, which found its fulfillment in the Torlonia Foundation, established for the purpose of preserving and promoting “the cultural legacy of the Family for humanity” to be handed down to future generations. Following an agreement signed with the Foundation, and by virtue of the Brand’s Greco-Roman roots, Bulgari has contributed as main sponsor to the restoration of the works already on display in the Capitoline Exhibition. In fact, some interesting discoveries emerged during the work, such as the traces of color present on the Port Relief from the 3rd century AD. Gallerie d’Italia wanted to support this fundamental conservation work by contributing to the restoration of the Consular Sarcophagus and the Leda sculpture that will significantly open and close the exhibition. The catalog of the restored works is published by Electa, and studio Sonnoli was involved for the graphic identity of the exhibition. The coordinated image stems from research and in-depth study of the typefaces used in the historical catalog of the Torlonia Museum. The “T” of Torlonia became the guiding logotype for all communication, becoming an integral part of the graphics and support for the gallery of sculptures selected for the exhibition. In the Milan venue, the design of the new layout has been entrusted to architect Lucia Anna Iovieno, who will give a new reading and a personal interpretation of the exhibition, sharing with the curators all phases of the design.

The exhibition is divided into five sections, plus an epilogue. The itinerary begins withEvocation of the Torlonia Museum, inaugurated by Prince Alexander in 1875 and located on Via della Lungara, where 620 sculptures were displayed in 77 rooms. Famous among them is the vast gallery of 122 portrait busts. In the Milan stage, the first selection will be enriched by the imposing Consular Sarcophagus of the Via Ardeatina MT 395, with a group of Roman togates, which will welcome visitors, and two new busts (Domitian MT 539 and Antinous MT 398) to complete the gallery of faces already present in the Roman exhibition. The second section, Scavi Torlonia (19th century), takes visitors back to the time when Prince Giovanni Torlonia and his son Alexander drew many sculptures from excavations around Rome, in archaeological areas such as the Caffarella and the Villas of the Quintili, the Seven Lowers and Maxentius. Other finds came from excavations along the Appian Way and the Via Latina or from latifundia in Sabina and Tuscia, or even in the area of the Portus Augusti. This section, in the Milanese venue, will house the colossal Dace MT 412, which for reasons of size given its weight had not been able to be placed in Villa Caffarelli, and which in the imposing halls of Gallerie d’Italia will find the right space to be admired in all its grandeur. The third section, Villa Albani and the Cavaceppi Studio (18th century), reconstructs the history of Villa Albani, commissioned by Cardinal Alessandro Albani (1692-1779) to house his collection of sculptures, purchased by Prince Alessandro Torlonia in 1866 and still owned by the Family, and the marbles from the studio of sculptor Bartolomeo Cavaceppi (1716-1799), which testify to his activity in the restoration and trade of ancient sculptures. Upon his death, Giovanni Torlonia bought all of Cavaceppi’s marbles at auction, saving them from dispersal.

The fourth section, The Collection of Antiquities of Vincenzo Giustiniani (17th century), delves into the figure of Marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani (1564-1637), who promoted in 1636-37 a sumptuous printed work, the Galleria Giustiniana, with 330 engravings reproducing many of his antique sculptures. The most substantial nucleus of antiquities, purchased by Prince Giovanni Torlonia in 1816, passed to his son Alessandro in 1856-59, who assigned it to the Museum. The fifth section, The Collections of Antiquities of the 15th-16th Centuries, offers a selection of sculptures documented in collections of the 15th and 16th centuries, passed to the Torlonia family as part of larger acquisitions (Albani, Giustiniani, Cavaceppi), or by direct purchase. Finally, the epilogue, History of Restoration, places on the porphyry-shelved table a copy of the sumptuous volume of the Torlonia Museum (1884) with phototype reproductions of all 620 sculptures in the Museum. The latter room in the Milan stage will host a discussion and in-depth study on the topic of contemporary restoration. The Hercules MT 25 composed of 112 pieces will be joined by Leda MT 60 displayed with different visible phases of the cleaning operation to better tell the various stages of restoration, particularly in the Torlonia Museum of the late 19th century and to highlight the problems and challenges facing contemporary restoration.

Torlonia marbles moving to Milan. Major exhibition moves to Gallerie d'Italia
Torlonia marbles moving to Milan. Major exhibition moves to Gallerie d'Italia

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