Fodor's Expert Review Palazzo Barberini/Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica

Quirinale Castle/Palace/Chateau Fodor's Choice

One of Rome's most splendid 17th-century buildings, the Palazzo Barberini is a landmark of the Roman Baroque style. The grand facade was designed by Carlo Maderno (aided by his nephew, Francesco Borromini), but when Maderno died, Borromini was passed over in favor of his great rival, Gianlorenzo Bernini. Now home to the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, the palazzo holds a splendid collection that includes Raphael's La Fornarina, a luminous portrait of the artist's lover (a resident of Trastevere, she was reputedly a baker's daughter). Also noteworthy are Guido Reni's portrait of the doomed Beatrice Cenci (beheaded in Rome for patricide in 1599)—Hawthorne called it "the saddest picture ever painted" in his Rome-based novel, The Marble Faun—and Caravaggio's dramatic Judith Beheading Holofernes.

The showstopper here is the palace's Gran Salone, a vast ballroom with a ceiling painted in 1630 by the third (and too-often-neglected) master of the Roman... READ MORE

One of Rome's most splendid 17th-century buildings, the Palazzo Barberini is a landmark of the Roman Baroque style. The grand facade was designed by Carlo Maderno (aided by his nephew, Francesco Borromini), but when Maderno died, Borromini was passed over in favor of his great rival, Gianlorenzo Bernini. Now home to the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, the palazzo holds a splendid collection that includes Raphael's La Fornarina, a luminous portrait of the artist's lover (a resident of Trastevere, she was reputedly a baker's daughter). Also noteworthy are Guido Reni's portrait of the doomed Beatrice Cenci (beheaded in Rome for patricide in 1599)—Hawthorne called it "the saddest picture ever painted" in his Rome-based novel, The Marble Faun—and Caravaggio's dramatic Judith Beheading Holofernes.

The showstopper here is the palace's Gran Salone, a vast ballroom with a ceiling painted in 1630 by the third (and too-often-neglected) master of the Roman Baroque, Pietro da Cortona. It depicts the Glorification of Urban VIII's Reign and has the spectacular conceit of glorifying Urban VIII as the agent of Divine Providence, escorted by a "bomber squadron" (to quote art historian Sir Michael Levey) of huge Barberini bees, the heraldic symbol of the family.

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Castle/Palace/Chateau Museum/Gallery Fodor's Choice

Quick Facts

Via delle Quattro Fontane 13
Rome, Latium  00184, Italy

06-32810

www.barberinicorsini.org

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: €12, includes Palazzo Corsini, Closed Mon.

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