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Busts in The Torlonia Marbles: Collecting Masterpieces exhibition at the Musei Capitolini in Rome Photo: Oliver Astrologo © Fondazione Torlonia, Electa, Bvlgari

Torlonia Collection Opens in Rome at Villa Caffarelli

The story of the Torlonia family and their inestimable wealth from banking and real estate was the stuff of legends during the 17th and 18th centuries. Such was their affluence that in Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to the Moon,” it was Torlonia money that financed the journey. Rather than financing expeditions to the stars above, the family members were patrons to the artistic stars on Earth and collectors of antiquities from the past. In 1875, the Museo Torlonia opened to the public and displayed 600 pieces of what was far and away the most important private collection of Roman antiquities in the world. The family’s total collection held as many as 2,000 sculptures. The museum closed after a century in 1976 and for the past 45 years, the collection has remained out of view to the public. Decades of unsuccessful attempts to transfer the collection to a suitable public museum followed, that is until now. At Rome’s Capitoline Museums, specifically at the Villa Caffarelli, a selection of 92 pieces are finally on display. Originally slated to debut last year, the plans for the exhibition changed when the museums of Rome were closed by government decree. Only a few lucky visitors were able to attend the pre-opening ceremony. The exhibit is open again, but for a relatively short time. ‘The Torlonia Marbles: Collecting Masterpieces’ is at the Capitoline Museums in Rome, but only until June 29.

Installation view of The Torlonia Marbles: Collecting Masterpieces, including a 1st century goat whose head is attributed to Gian Lorenzo Bernini Photo: Oliver Astrologo © Fondazione Torlonia, Electa, Bvlgari