A unique chance to admire the noblest collection of antiquities in the world. A manual of classical sculpture by images. A journey through the history of taste and collecting from the 16th century to the present day.
The first exhaustive catalogue of the Farnese Collection, the world’s most famous collection of classical antiquities, runs to several volumes. The work was compiled to mark the new layout of the Naples National Archaeological Museum. The collection was transferred from Rome to Naples in the 18th century to form the first nucleus of the ‘Real Museo Borbonico’ (the Royal Museum in Naples instituted by the Bourbons). The first volume of drawings and documents, published in 2007 by Electa Napoli, told the fascinating story of the collection, started in Rome in the 16th century thanks to the passion for collecting of “Grand Cardinal” Alessandro Farnese, nephew of Pope Paul III. It includes the extraordinary sculptures found in the Forum, on the Aventine Hill, in the Temple of Hadrian and, especially, in the Baths of Caracalla. Finally, these pages give original insight into the history of taste and the perception of classical artifacts between the 16th and 19th centuries in the eyes of men of letters like Goethe and the greatest painters of the time, from the Carracci to Ingres. The almost 300 sculptures of the Farnese Collection are presented in a uniform way but in three more volumes (the first two will be published in September 2009) corresponding to their type and, in one case, to the place where it was found. The information charts, compiled by experts on the Collection, not only list all the documentary, antiquarian and bibliographical information, but analyze the type of statue and its history in detail. They also take into account whether the sculptures have been restored. They include famous masterpieces like the Venus Callipige, the Farnese Atlas, the Tyrannicides, the Hercules of Lysippus and the monumental Farnese Bull. They also feature a group of marbles that are virtually unknown, which were recognized thanks to systematic research into documentary and graphic evidence in the museum archives. They are cleverly portrayed in the illustrations, from every angle and in minute detail, in the black and white photographs of Luigi Spina, photographer of the museum’s collection for the last ten years.