MathildeHk in Rome… at the Palazzo Corsini and Barberini – Getting off the beaten tracks.

Fond of Renaissance and Baroque Periods?

Loving Italian and Flemish Old Masters Paintings?

Interested in unusual palazzo collections in Rome?

palazzo corsini

Facade, Palazzo Corsini – Via della Lungara, Rome, picture@Mathildehk

palazzo barberini

Facade, Palazzo Barberini,Via delle Quattro Fontane 13, picture@museumsofrome

Rome can be packed with tourists in summer but there are always quiet art collections to visit. Among them, I recommend the Palazzo Corsini and the Palazzo Barberini, two of the most important paintings collections in Rome, and both splendid examples of the taste for Renaissance and Baroque pictures and architecture.

While each palazzo have been erected on the site of pre-existent buildings erected during the XVI th century, the palazzo Corsini was designed in the 1730s, when the palazzo Barberini was inhabited by the Barberini’s in the second half of the XVII th century.

The Corsini Collection

IMG_7303 IMG_7302

Frescoes from Corsini galleries, XVIIIth century, picture@mathildeHK

The works in the Corsini Gallery collection were donated by the Corsini family during the18th century, especially by the cardinal Neri Maria Corsini who gathered a massive collection of works by, among many others, Salvator Rosa, Guido Reni, Andrea del Sarto, Orazio Gentileschi etc…

” Neri Maria Corsini, was a diplomat and man of culture born to a noble Florentine family. He was the grandson of Clement XII, who was pope from 1730 to 1740; in addition to their collection of prints and drawings, both uncle and nephew amassed a rich library, numerous paintings, and art of the past as well as works of their own times. To accommodate this large collection, the Corsini family acquired Palazzo Riario alla Lungara. The building was renovated and expanded by the Florentine architect Ferdinando Fuga, and soon became Rome’s largest private palazzo : Palazzo Corsini.

The volumes containing the drawings and prints were stored, along with printed books, on the first floor of Palazzo Corsini, in the library the pope had given his nephew in 1733 after making him cardinal. The Florentine scholar Giovanni Gaetano Bottari was hired as librarian, and alongside Neri Maria he helped shape the library’s cultural framework, making it the great institution it remains to this day. The Corsini collection of drawings and prints continued to grow, but in 1883 Prince Tommaso Corsini decided to return to Florence. In 1883, he sold this palace and its contents to the state, donated the paintings to the state, and bequeathed the library to the Accademia dei Lincei, which was headquartered in the building. The works of art in the Corsini collection then became the core of the new National Gallery of Ancient Art, while the library holdings were incorporated with the library of the Accademia dei Lincei. In 1895, the Library of the Corsini Collection deaccessioned a large part of the volumes housing the drawings and prints, which went on to form the core of the new National Print Cabinet, also headquartered in Palazzo Corsini. The Print Cabinet inherited 52 volumes of drawings from the Fondo Corsini, for a total of over 6,400 sheets.In 1950, the volumes of drawings and prints were transferred from the Palazzo Corsini to the nearby Villa Farnesina alla Lungara and finally, in 2008, moved to the joint headquarters of the National Graphics Institute in Palazzo Poli at the Trevi Fountain.”


Palazzo Corsini, an Italian Baroque gallery, picture@MathildeHK

The Barberini Collection

The Barberini family was originally from Florence and became one of the leading families of the Roman aristocracy during the XVII th century. The rooms dedicated to Renaissance paintings display  major works such as La Fornarina, by Raphelle and La Madonna in trono con Bambino, by Filippo Lippi, dated from 1437.


La Fornarina, Raphael, 1518-1520, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, picture@Palazzo Barberini, Rome.

Cardinal Francesco Barberini,(1597-1679) was the nephew of the pope Urban VIII and was active in Rome as a patron of the arts.  In 1625, he acquired the Sforza palace on the Quirinal Hill in Rome to give it to his brother Taddeo. After buying further land around the palace, the architect Carlo Maderno was engaged to transform the site into a much larger and grander palace which became the Palazzo Barberini.

da cortona barberini

Pietro da Cortona (Pietro Berrettini), Triunfo da Divina Providência 1632-1639, picture@gopixpic

“The Palazzo Barberini, residence of the papal family Barberini, set a new standard for Roman palace architecture and its painted decoration. Planning for the expansion of the sixteenth-century structure was first undertaken by Carlo Maderno, then transferred after his death to Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who here distinguished himself as an architect for the first time. The Salone on the piano nobile (25 x 15 x 15 m), occupying a story and a half, exceeded in size what had been the largest room in secular context in Rome up to that time: the Salone in the Palazzo Farnese.

The first commission for the painted decor was given to Andrea Sacchi who in 1629-30 painted the ceiling of the largest room in the wing occupied by Anna Colonna, Taddeo Barberini’s wife. Sacchi painted here the fresco identified as Triumph of Divina Sapientia (divine wisdom). Then in 1631 Pietro da Cortona’s coworkers, Giovanni Francesco Romanelli, Giacinto Gimignani, and Pietro Paolo Baldini painted the adjacent chapel, which was consecrated to the crucified Christ (Cappella del Crocifisso). That patronage explains the chapel’s christological program and Pietro da Cortona’s altar fresco of the Crucifixion. Once the chapel was completed in 1632, the next space to be painted was the so-called Gallerietta on the north side, whose end walls present the painted coats of arms of Taddeo and Francesco Barberini. Cortona furnished the designs for the mainly decorative painting with painted stucco, but left most of the execution of them to his workshop.

It was the decision of Pope Urban VIII to assign the task of painting the Salone to Pietro da Cortona, who was formally commissioned by Francesco Barberini, the nephew of Urban VIII. The allegorization of the pope and his reign is the dominant idea in the painting of the Salone, the large hall that forms the public centre of the palace. The divinely ordained rule of Urban VIII and the apotheosis of his Tuscan family whose roots could be traced back to antiquity, are cleverly incorporated into a timeless and universal perspective by Pietro da Cortona. It can be stated that Cortona’s ceiling is the key work in Baroque ceiling painting.” by© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.


Filippo Lippi – Annunciazione e due donatori, 1435, picture@palazzobarberini

Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica in Palazzo Corsini

Via della Lungara, 10 – 00165 ROMA
Tel.: +39 06 68802323

Opening hours
Monday 8.30 – 19.30
Wednesday/Sunday 8.30 – 19.30

Admission € 5,00

Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica in Palazzo Barberini 

Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13
00184 Roma, Italia
tel +39 064814591

Opening hours :Tuesdays/Sundays 8.30 – 19.00

Admission : € 7,00


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