WC Art Encyclopedia Borghese Crest

The Borgheses were an Italian family with noble and papal background. They originated from Siena. In the 16th century the then head of the family, Marcantonio, a politician and lawyer in papal service, moved to Rome. His son Camillo was elected Pope in 1605.

Pope Paul V was an unabashed nepotist. He did not only supply his brothers with positions, he also adopted the son of his sister, Scipione Caffarelli/Borghese, and made him Cardinal and Prince of Vivero.

Said Scipone was a major patron of the arts. He started and advanced the career of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Under his guardianship the family art collection grew rapidly.

The art collection was re-structured and re-ordered by Marcantonio III Borghese when he turned the family villa in Rome into a genuinely public museum in the late 18th century. He moved the sculptures, which Bernini for the effect had intended to stand against a wall in the middle of the rooms.

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