Museo Nazionale Romano: Palazzo Altemps
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Museo Nazionale Romano: Palazzo Altemps information
Just north of Piazza Navona, Palazzo Altemps is a beautiful late-15th-century palazzo, housing the best of the Museo Nazionale Romano’s formidable collection of classical sculpture. Many pieces come from the celebrated Ludovisi collection, amassed by Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi in the 17th century.
Prize exhibits include the beautiful 5th-century Trono Ludovisi (Ludovisi Throne), a carved marble block whose central relief depicts a naked Venus (Aphrodite) being modestly plucked from the sea. In the neighbouring room, the Ares Ludovisi, a 2nd-century-BC representation of a young, clean-shaven Mars, owes its right foot to a Gian Lorenzo Bernini restoration in 1622.
Another affecting work is the sculptural group Galata Suicida (Gaul’s Suicide), a melodramatic depiction of a Gaul knifing himself to death over a dead woman.
The building’s baroque frescoes provide an exquisite decorative backdrop. The walls of the Sala delle Prospettive Dipinte are decorated with landscapes and hunting scenes seen through trompe l’oeil windows. These frescoes were painted for Cardinal Altemps, the rich nephew of Pope Pius IV (r 1560–65) who bought the palazzo in the late 16th century.
The museum also houses the Museo Nazional Romano’s Egyptian collection.