The Fondazione Torlonia was founded in 2014 by Prince Alessandro Torlonia with the express aim of preserving and promoting the Torlonia Collection – among the most important collections of ancient marble sculptures in the world – and Villa Albani Torlonia, one of the highest expressions of neoclassical architecture. Together they constitute a “cultural heritage of humanity, as well as of the family” to be handed down to future generations.
The Torlonia Collection, as wonderfully described in texts and phototypy in the 1881 catalogue by Pietro Ercole Visconti, is known as the most important private collection of ancient art in the world. Its nucleus of over six hundred marble sculptures feature sarcophagi and Greco-Roman busts and statues resulting from acquisitions of the most prominent collections of Rome’s patrician families, as well as from excavation finds made on the Family’s own estates during the course of the 19th century. The Torlonia marbles are an exceptional assembly of works, it is a collection of collections, which, over the various stages of its constitution, defined the very nature of collecting antiquities. The Museo Torlonia was itself emblematic of an historical cross-section of Rome, the very place where the socio-cultural practice of collecting antiquities in private spaces emerged.
Villa Albani Torlonia has belonged to the Torlonia Family since 1866. It was built during the mid-18th century by the architect Carlo Marchionni on the basis of a project heavily influenced by key figures such as Giovanni Battista Nolli, Giovanni Battista Piranesi and Johann Joachim Winckelmann to house the prestigious collection of antiquities, curated by the latter, of Cardinal Alessandro Albani, nephew of Pope Clement XI. The Villa, with its collection, the fountains, statues, stairways and frescoes, and on the other side from the Italian-style garden, the hemicycle of the Kaffeehaus, constitutes a sublime testimony of that particular antiquarian taste which came to the fore in mid-18th-century Rome, that for which Rome had become a key destination on the Grand Tour.
The works of the Torlonia Collection and Villa Albani Torlonia, has been subject to constant and scrupulous conservation under the aegis of the Family, which employs a select group of trusted technicians and restorers. Since its constitution, the Fondazione Torlonia has pursued this oeuvre and also achieved numerous other important results. The Torlonia Collection will be exhibited in a world tour starting in Rome and studies and research on the Collections have been fostered.
An historic agreement signed in 2016 between the Fondazione Torlonia and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism, is, as the Minister Dario Franceschini has underlined, ‘the fruit of an authentic collaboration between the public and private spheres in the interests of culture.’ This accord will lead to a world-touring event: evidencing the project’s prominence a selection of ninety masterpieces, representative of the collection’s importance both on a national and international level, will be presented in the Rome opening show. This exhibition will be curated by archaeologist and art historian Professor Salvatore Settis and by archaeologist, Professor Carlo Gasparri both of the Accademia dei Lincei. The collection will then tour abroad among worldwide prestigious museums institutions.
Besides an ambitious ongoing Conservation Programme, the Fondazione Torlonia completed the restoration of the Parnassus fresco by Anton Raphael Mengs in the Villa’s great hall, which is the pictorial manifesto of the nascent Neoclassical style, as well as accomplishing, during the course of three years, the restoration of over one-hundred sculptures housed in the Kaffeehaus. Beside these works, especially relevant to the Torlonia Collection, are the restorations of the Germanico bronze sculpture and recently, with the contribution of maison Bvlgari, the ninety sculptures selected for the world-touring event.
We embrace a vision encompassing, the very ancient past and the most advanced future, where the artistic dimension is an essential component of our history. The Fondazione Torlonia sees the potential to spread greater awareness of art through interaction with new technologies. The aim is to bring the new generations closer to the artistic dimension, through the production of digital contents to be shared online. Particular attention will be paid to foster education and research through the publication and promotion of studies and research projects in the historical and artistic fields of the collections. The Fondazione Torlonia favours activities dedicated to students and scholars with a view to establishing strong connections and cooperation agreements with public entities and international institutions.