Borghese Gallery Paintings 

By Aniket

People from all over the world fall in love with the riches of Rome’s Borghese Gallery, which is a center full of artistic beauty. 

This esteemed museum, which is located in the extensive gardens of the Villa Borghese, is home to an unmatched collection of artwork, including paintings and sculptures.

The Borghese Gallery was established in the early 17th century by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who was passionate about art and culture. 

Initially, it was kept in the Cardinal’s house near St. Peter’s, but in the 1620s, it was moved to his new villa outside the Porta Pinciana gate. 

Today, the Borghese Gallery has over 800 paintings and many other items, including masterpieces from most well-known artists of the Baroque and Renaissance eras. 

The Borghese Gallery is still a shining example of artistic brilliance today, providing people with a unique chance to experience the luxury and elegance of the past.

1. Entrance Hall And Marcus Curtius Leaping Into Chasm

In the welcoming hall of the palace, ancient Roman mosaics are roped off on the floors thoughtfully originated at Rome’s Baths of Caracalla.

There’s also an impressive rococo-style high-ceiling painting in the hall featuring various scenes from antiquity.

A notable feature in this hall is a relief structure by Pietro Bernini,  the father of the renowned Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

It is positioned above the entrance; just stand facing the door and look up to where the wall meets the ceiling.

It is much more than a simple relief; it shows the heroic act of Marcus Curtius throwing himself into a chasm. 

As per historians, an earthquake in the fourth century B.C. created the chasm in the center of Rome.

To know the cause of this chasm, the Romans consulted an augur, who said that the gods required the Romans to fill it with their most precious possessions. 

Marcus Curtius responded that courage was Rome’s most valuable possession. 

In a display of this belief, he mounted his horse, donned his armor and leaped into the chasm, which closed around him, saving Rome.

It portrays Marcus Curtius famously diving into a precipice, which is much more than a straightforward relief. 

2. Boy With A Basket Of Fruit By Caravaggio 

Boy With A Basket Of Fruit By Caravaggio (Room VIII)

Caravaggio’s “Boy with a Basket of Fruit” is an outstanding example of his Caravaggio original painting approach and his ability to give ordinary items an amazing sense of depth and beauty. 

This 1593-created work of art in Room VIII of the Borghese Gallery never fails to charm onlookers with its detail and deep emotional impact.

The picture depicts a young boy with a basket full of juicy fruits with his eyes set straight on the painter. 

The painting is a complex interplay of contrasts and subtleties.

With his red cheeks and gentle features expressing charm and kindness, the boy’s face is a study of innocent childhood. 

However, his expression also has a trace of mischief, a knowingness that ignores his young age.

Caravaggio’s mastery of light and shadow is present in every part of the picture, from the small voices on the boy’s face to the beautifully textured surface of the fruits. 

The interaction of light and shadow creates a sensation of depth and dimension, tempting the observer to stay and take in every detail. 

The fruits, depicted with precision, are realistic and carry symbolic meanings related to the fleeting nature of youth, fertility, and abundance. 

Through the boy’s direct stare, the painting invites reflection on the ephemeral qualities of beauty and the enduring beauty of nature.

“Boy with a Basket of Fruit” is prominent in Room VIII of the Borghese Gallery, among other stunning pieces from the Italian Renaissance and Baroque eras. 

3. Young St. John The Baptist 

Young St. John The Baptist (Room VIII)

This painting is a stunning masterwork housed in Room VIII of the Borghese Gallery, symbolizing the artist’s revolutionary technique and deep emotional depth. 

This powerful painting of the child saint around 1602 illustrates Caravaggio’s unmatched skill in capturing the human form with extraordinary realism and vivid intensity.

The saint is depicted as a young boy with long flowing hair and a thoughtful expression, standing at the composition focal point. 

His lips are parted as if in prayer or thought, and his gaze is fixed upward. 

The dramatic interplay of light and shadow highlights his facial features. 

It conveys the gravity of the moment, showing Caravaggio’s skill in rendering textures and creating a sense of life and presence through the contrast of light and dark.

Every element of the picture displays Caravaggio’s effective talent, from the sensitive representation of

Saint John’s features to the delicate textures of his skin and hair. 

The picture “Young Saint John the Baptist” contains meaning and symbolism. 

In Christian iconography, Saint John is especially significant as an ancestor of Christ, representing moral purity and spiritual enlightenment. 

His youth and ignorance serve as a reminder of the possibility of redemption and the transforming power of faith.

This painting is positioned among other masterpieces of Italian Renaissance and Baroque art.

4. St. Jerome By Caravaggio

Caravaggio’s St. Jerome, housed in Room VIII of the Borghese Gallery, is a powerful portrayal of the saint in a state of solitary contemplation. 

Created between 1605 and 1606, this masterwork demonstrates Caravaggio’s command of light and shadow, his capacity for producing strong feelings and his broad knowledge of the human psyche.

St. Jerome is shown as an aged and somber person lost in reflection, with his gaze intently fixed on the cross he holds, reflecting years of devotion and meditation.

His face’s contours—the creases of his cheeks and the furrows in his brow—are highlighted by the dance of light and shade.

St.Jerome’s figure is painted with amazing accuracy and detail; every hair on his stringy beard and his skin’s natural creases are delicately portrayed, giving the painting a sense of depth and authenticity.

Positioned against a dark background, the composition is simple yet powerful, with the stark contrasts of light and dark magnifying the theme of introspection.

This effectively draws the viewer into the saint’s spiritual journey and internal struggle, making “St. Jerome” a deeply symbolic work that contemplates atonement and spiritual enlightenment.

5. Palafrenieri By Caravaggio 

Palafrenieri By Caravaggio (Room VIII)

Across from St. Jerome, there’s a large picture called Palafrenieri featuring Mary, Jesus’ mother, and Anne, Mary’s mother.

Originally commissioned for Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica, the piece was rejected for being too extravagant.

The artwork depicts Mary in a low-cut garment, considered inappropriate for the Virgin Mother, and Jesus with red hair, a controversial choice due to its negative connotations in art. 

Lastly, Mary’s mother, Anne, is wearing a somewhat disturbed expression.

After minor adjustments, Cardinal Scipione Borghese intervened and purchased the artwork at an extremely low cost.

The depiction of Mary and Jesus trampling a snake underfoot represents their defiance against Satan, with Mary’s skin appearing leather-like and her eyes filled with fury.

6. David With The Head Of Goliath

David With The Head Of Goliath (Room VIII)

David with the Head of Goliath, which is kept in Room VIII of the Borghese Gallery, is a portrait of the biblical figure David, painted sometime around 1610.

In the painting, David is portrayed as a young man with a sad look who stands at the composition’s center, holding the severed head of the Philistine giant Goliath.

The dramatic and tense atmosphere created by light and shadow highlights the sharp contrast between Goliath’s horrific death and David’s young innocence.

His smile reflects both sides of the moment—the joy of victory balanced by the weight of taking another person’s life—as one of triumph and regret.

David’s figure is positioned against a dark background in the painting’s straightforward yet effective composition, heightening the scene’s intensity.

The painting is rich in symbolism and meaning, representing themes of courage, heroism, and the triumph of good over evil.

As one of the most iconic stories in the Bible, the tale of David and Goliath has delighted audiences for centuries, and Caravaggio’s powerful interpretation brings the narrative to life. 

7. Sick Bacchus By Caravaggio

Sick Bacchus By Caravaggio (Room VIII)

Sick Bacchus,” a notable work by Caravaggio, once belonged to Scipione Borghese and offers a compelling glimpse into the artist’s psyche. 

The painting presents Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, fertility, and agriculture, in a state of illness and fatigue, which may reflect Caravaggio’s own struggles with substance abuse, particularly alcoholism. 

The depiction is strikingly vivid, portraying Bacchus with a realism that leaves little to interpretation. 

This piece, an oil on canvas, stands as the last of Caravaggio’s works before visitors move on to Bernini’s sculptures in Room VIII, marking a transition from the master of the Baroque paintings to another form of artistic expression.

8. The Deposition By Raphael

Raphael's Deposition (Room IX)

Housed in Room IX of the Borghese Gallery, Raphael’s “The Deposition” is an early 16th-century masterpiece that captures the profound sorrow and beauty of the moments following Christ’s crucifixion. 

The painting compellingly portrays Mary, John the beloved disciple, and Mary Magdalene gently lowering Christ’s lifeless body from the cross, their expressions etched with profound grief. 

Raphael’s excellent use of color, light, and shadow heightens the impression of sincerity and reverence while giving the figures a softly ethereal glow, adding to the painting’s emotional impact.

Every composition component has been thoughtfully placed to give a sense of clarity and unity, making it harmonious and balanced overall.

The picture symbolizes and conveys themes of redemption, sacrifice, and the victory of hope over hopelessness. 

Visitors are encouraged to examine the everlasting efficacy of love and forgiveness and the profound mystery of the resurrection and death of Jesus. 

9. Lady With Unicorn By Raphael

Raphael's Lady with a Unicorn (Room (IX)

Acquired by the Borghese family in 1760, this painting, created in 1506, was not initially recognized as a work by Raffaello until it underwent restoration in the 19th century.

At the time, they were unclear about whether the picture was by Raffaello since the artist’s name was only attached to it after it was restored in the 19th century.

The identity of the strange lady is still unknown, and nobody truly knows who she could be.

This woman in the painting is holding a unicorn, a symbol of virginity, gazing directly at the viewer.

The pose and setting are reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Lady with the Ermine,” suggesting Raffaello drew inspiration from Leonardo’s work.

Historians believe that after several studies, Raffaello decided to replace an originally intended dog with a unicorn in the woman’s arms, adding another layer of intrigue and complexity to the artwork.

10. Diana And Her Nymphs By Domenichino 

Diana And Her Nymphs By Domenichino (Room XIV)

This masterwork by Domenichino, located in Room XIV of the Borghese Gallery, will take you to the beautiful realm of Roman legend.

This gorgeous portrait of the goddess Diana and her nymphs, painted in the early 17th century, perfectly embodies the ageless beauty and grace of the divine.

At the center of the composition stands Diana, the goddess of the hunt, poised with a quiver of arrows over her shoulder and holding a bow.

Surrounding her are nymphs, bouncing and dancing with pleasure portrayed in the beautiful painting. 

The scene has an enchanting character that heightens the feeling of magic and enchantment because of the gentle, diffused light that fills it.

Domenichino’s meticulous dedication to detail is visible in every work area, from the delicate features of the people to the amazing folds of the drapery.

The nymphs are shown with stunning elegance and beauty, and their flowing hair and clothes suggest movement and energy.

Every figure in the composition has been thoughtfully placed to give a feeling of rhythm and balance, making it energetic and harmonic.

Overall, the painting evokes a feeling of peace and tranquility, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the world of classical mythology. 

Rich in symbolism, it explores themes of nature, femininity, and the power of the divine.

11. Danae

Danae is a painting by Correggio

This painting is part of a famous collection created by Correggio for Federico II Gonzaga, the Duke of Mantua. 

The duke later gifted these paintings, including this one of Danae, to Charles V. 

They were possibly given in Bologna in 1530, but more likely in November 1532 when the Emperor visited Mantua. 

The painting shows Danae, a princess locked away by her father, King Acrisius, to stop her from having children. 

It captures the moment Danaë and Jupiter, who transforms into golden rain as told by Ovid, come together. 

Their child, Perseus, fulfills the prophecy by eventually killing the Argive king.

Unique among Correggio’s works, this scene is set indoors, in a more intimate setting. 

It features Hymen, the god of marriage, and two cupids who are checking if the gold (Jupiter’s form) is pure. This act symbolizes Jupiter’s true and invaluable love for Danae.

Frequently Asked Questions About Borghese Galley Paintings

What are the most famous paintings in the Borghese Gallery?

The Borghese Gallery is renowned for its collection of masterpieces, particularly paintings by Caravaggio like David with the Head of Goliath, St. Jerome Writing, Titian’s allegorical Sacred and Profane Love, and Raphael’s poignant “The Deposition.

These works, celebrated for their dramatic lighting, allegorical depth, and emotional intensity, represent the pinnacle of Renaissance and Baroque art.

How comprehensive is the list of paintings in the Borghese Gallery?

The Borghese Gallery holds a vast collection of paintings and sculptures, but not all works are displayed simultaneously due to space limitations. 

The gallery’s permanent collection includes around 20 rooms filled with art from antiquity up to the 18th century.

How can I find a complete list of paintings at the Borghese Gallery?

For the most accurate and comprehensive list, visiting the official Borghese Gallery website or referring to a catalog published by the gallery is recommended. 

The collection is subject to change due to loans, restorations, and new acquisitions.

How many Caravaggio paintings are in the Borghese Gallery?

The Borghese Gallery is home to six Caravaggio paintings, which include David with the Head of Goliath, St.

Jerome Writing, John the Baptist, Sick Bacchus, Madonna and Child with St. Anne, and Boy with a Basket of Fruit.

Are there any ceiling paintings at the Borghese Gallery?

Borghese Gallery features exquisite ceiling paintings and frescoes that are integral to its architectural and artistic appeal. 

These works, primarily from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, enhance the gallery’s overall aesthetic and historical value.

What are some of the most famous Borghese Gallery paintings and sculptures?

The Borghese Gallery boasts remarkable artworks, including Caravaggio’s “David with the Head of Goliath and Sick Bacchus, Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love, and Raphael’s The Deposition among its famous paintings. 

In sculpture, Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne, The Rape of Proserpina and David stand out, showcasing the gallery’s rich collection of Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces.

Featured Image: Backyard Productions