The Villa was built in the early years of the seventeenth century by Cardinal Scipione Borghese…and was bought, with its magnificent collection of pictures, and beautiful gardens and parks, by the Italian government for 144000 lira, much less than its real value, in 1901.
the chief glory of the villa, however, lies in its park and gardens, which have a circumference of nearly four miles and contain a riding school, an amphitheatre, a lake, an aviary and fountains. ‘Classical’ temples and ruins are dotted here and there among the shady walks of the great boschi of ilex. In assembling so many diverse buildings within the compass of one vast part it is tempting to think that perhaps Cardinal Scipione intended to create a villa on the lines of that of the Emperor Hadrian at Tivoli.**
But it is really the Gallery of Pictures which calls for our wonder and admiration, since it is, perhaps, the finest private collection of the Italian masterpieces of the sixteenth century anywhere to be found….
the true glory of the gallery consists not only, or even chiefly, in the work of Raphael, but in three works by the greatest master of that or any other period, Titian, who is represented by three pictures, the first belonging to his youth, the others to his old age....
The Sacred and Porfane Love, painted about 1512 for Niccolo Aurelio, Grand Chancellor of Venice, is the highest achievement of Titian’s art at the end of his Giorgionesque period. It has been in this collection since 1613, when it was called…’Beauty unadorned and Beauty adorned.’ In fact, the name it now bears, which has so puzzled the world, does not occur till the end of the eighteenth century, when it seems to have been given it by the Germans. For us, at least, it can have no authority, the subject of the picture being merely a moment of beauty,--a moment gone, but for Titian’s genius, while we try to apprehend, in the golden summer heat, under the trees by a fountain of water….
But, after all, what we have come here to see is the Sacred and Profane Love, by Titian, and that will lead us, not from picture to picture in a sudden enthusiasm for painting, but most certainly back again into the gardens, where the world is so sleepily golden in the heat, and the shade so cool and grateful. There we shall linger till, from the faraway city, the Ave Mary rings from all the cupolas, and we must return down the long alleys in the softly fading light, stealing softly, half reluctantly, out of the world of dreams back into the streets and the ways of men. ###
*** Note, 5/5/2017: Three Pipe Problem no longer exists due to the unfortunate and untimely death of its creator, Hasan Nyazi.
# I originally published my papers on my website MyGiorgione but last year I published these and some others at academia.org.