Balls from the Torlonia collection, masterpieces in Milan – The Way Magazine

As long as there was a museum dedicated to Rome, until the end of the twentieth century, the Torlonia collection was known as the most important private collection of ancient art in the world. Perhaps next to the grandeur of the Capitoline museums, the collection ranges from ancient sarcophagi to artifacts of rare beauty. The Gallerie d’Italia in Piazza Scala in Milan, the Intesa Sanpaolo Museum, will present the exhibition “The Torlonia balls. Collection of masterpieces. The Torlonia balls. Collection of masterpieces”: 96 marble balls from the Torlonia collection, the most important private collection of classical statues, in a large exhibition that with five new restored works inaugurates the collection’s world exhibition program.
The majestic consular sarcophagus from via Ardeatina will welcome visitors with a group of Roman gates in the wide spaces of the Galleries, where the colossal prisoner Dace, like the examples from the Trajan’s Forum, will find its ideal location, next to the recently restored portraits of Domitian and Antinous , part of the famous gallery of the collection’s 122 busts. The exhibition’s itinerary ends with a section dedicated exclusively to restorations, where Hercules consisting of 112 pieces already exhibited in Rome will enter into dialogue with the sculpture of Leda with the swan: in both works, different phases of the cleaning intervention will be visible, to tell about the challenges modern restoration faces.
The exhibition “In Marmi Torlonia. Collection of masterpieces. The Torlonia balls. Collecting Masterpieces” was born out of an agreement between the Torlonia Foundation and the Ministry of Culture – with the Directorate-General for Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape and Special Superintendence of Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Rome – an authentic example of cooperation between public and private of culture. The appointment in May 2022 is the first stage, following the success of the Roman inauguration, of a tour of important international museums, which will end with the identification of a permanent exhibition space for the new Torlonia Museum; while the restoration of the sculptures from the collection continues at the Torlonia laboratories in via della Lungara.
The scientific project curated by Salvatore Settis and Carlo Gasparri is revealed in an exhibition itinerary that, by retaining the fil-rouge of a chronology backwards on the history of collection, highlights the unusual relevance of the story of the Torlonia Museum in Lungara, founded by Prince Alessandro Torlonia in 1875 The works – busts, reliefs, statues, sarcophagi and decorative elements – more than 620 pieces described in the catalog of the Torlonia Museum of Ancient Sculptures (1884-85) edited by Carlo Ludovico Visconti, the first fully illustrated in phototype – are not only excellent examples on ancient sculpture, but testifies to a very representative cross-section of the history of the collection of antiquity in Rome from the 15th to the 19th century. Collection of collections, this collection is the result of a large number of acquisitions and some significant movements of sculptures between the various dwellings in
Family until the creation of the Torlonia Museum, which represents – the beginning of the collection of antiquity and the transition to the large patrician collections – a cultural process of fundamental importance, in which Italy and Rome have had an undeniable precedence.
The creation of the Torlonia collection is due to the Torlonia family’s passion for collecting antiques, which finds its fulfillment in the Torlonia Foundation, which was created with the aim of preserving and promoting the “Family’s cultural heritage for humanity” to be passed on to future generations. . Thanks to an agreement signed with the foundation, and thanks to the brand’s Greco-Roman roots, Bulgari has contributed as the main sponsor to the restoration of the works already on display at the Capitoline exhibition, which have been restored to their original splendor after a careful study at Torlonia Laboratories. The moment of restoration is a moment of knowledge where a new light is shed on the history of the works. During the work, some interesting discoveries emerged, such as the traces of color on the harbor relief from the third century. The AD Gallerie d’Italia wanted to support this basic conservation work by contributing to the restoration of the consular sarcophagus and the sculpture of Leda, which will open and close the exhibition significantly.
The catalog of the restored works is published by Electa, organizer and producer of the exhibition, while the Sonnoli studio was involved in the graphic identity. The coordinated image comes from research and in-depth study of the fonts used in the Torlonia Museum’s historical catalog. T of Torlonia has become the guiding logo for all communication and has become an integral part of the graphics and support for the gallery of sculptures selected for the exhibition.
In the office in Milan, the design of the new exhibition was entrusted to the architect Lucia Anna Iovieno, who will provide a new reading and a personal interpretation of the exhibition and share all phases of the design with the curators.

Photo gallery by Gianni Foraboschi for The Way Magazine

Section I: Development of the Torlonia Museum
The itinerary begins with a spectacular evocation of the Torlonia Museum – inaugurated by Prince Alessandro in 1875 – located in via della Lungara, where the 620 sculptures were exhibited in 77 rooms. Famous among these is the large gallery of 122 portrait busts: «a huge treasure of learning and art» (PE Visconti). In the Milan phase, the first selection will be enriched by the impressive consular sarcophagus on Via Ardeatina MT 395, with a group of Roman train gates that 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.
Section II: Torlonia Excavations (19th Century)
Prince Giovanni and his son Alessandro drew many sculptures from excavations around Rome, in archeological sites such as Caffarella and the villas of Quintili, by the seven Bassi and by Maxentius. Other finds came from excavations along Via Appia and Via Latina or from large estates in Sabina and Tuscia or in the Portus Augusti area. This section, in Milan’s headquarters, will host the colossal Dace MT 412, which for reasons of scale given its weight could not have been located in Villa Caffarelli, and which in the impressive premises of the Gallerie d’Italia will find the right place for to be. admired in all its grandeur.

Title III: Villa Albani and the Cavaceppi Studio (18th Century)
Many of the spheres in the Torlonia Museum come from two large eighteenth-century cores:
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 balls from the sculptor Bartolomeo Cavaceppi’s studio (1716-1799), which testify to his activity of restoration and trade in antique sculptures. After his death, Giovanni Torlonia bought all of Cavaceppi’s bullets at auction and saved them from scattering.
Section IV: The Antiquities Collection by Vincenzo Giustiniani (17th Century)
The Marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani (1564-1637) promoted a lavishly printed work in 1636-37, the Giustiniana Gallery, with 330 engravings reproducing many of his antique sculptures. The most consistent core of antiques, purchased by Prince Giovanni Torlonia in 1816, in
In 1856-59 it passed to his son Alessandro, who handed it over to the museum.
Section V: The Antiquities Collections from the XV – XVI Centuries
A selection of sculptures documented in collections from the 15th and 16th centuries, transferred to the Torlonia family as part of major acquisitions (Albani, Giustiniani, Cavaceppi) or by direct purchase.
Epilogue – the history of restoration
In the last room, a copy of the lavish volume of
Torlonia Museum (1884) with photo reproduction of all 620 sculptures in the museum.
This last room in the Milan stage will host an interesting discussion and study on the theme of modern restoration. Hercules MT 25, consisting of 112 pieces, will be accompanied by Leda MT 60 exhibited with different visible phases of the cleaning intervention to better describe the different phases of the restoration, especially in the Torlonia Museum in the late nineteenth century and to highlight problems and challenges that today’s restoration faces.

Report by Gianni Foraboschi

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