Let’s Finish Critiquing: Artwork at the Borghese Gallery

Cardinal Scipione Borghese @ Borghese Gallery, Rome, Italy

Join us as we continue making fun of priceless artwork!

God damn it. Moreso than Rome, Venice and the Vatican itself, I was looking forward to seeing the Borghese Gallery’s statuary. I had heard it was the stuff of legends and home to many of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s best works.

And we weren’t going to get to see any of it. Neither of us realized the ticket was only good for a 2-hour admission window. We had spent the whole of it touring the gallery of paintings.

Unknown @ Borghese Gallery, Rome, Italy
When I had first redeemed our tickets, I overheard the gruff woman at the counter tell some customers that they were booked solid into next week so I didn’t have any hope when my wife went to see if we could get re-admission.

But guess whose wife can charm her way into repeat tickets at an already-booked venue, and at a discount?

Only the luckiest bastard on earth.

Domenico Guidi - Ritratto di Felice Zacchia Rondinini @ Borghese Gallery, Rome, Italy
Because we’re smart, we proceeded right back to the picture gallery to blitz the rest of what we hadn’t even gotten to yet. We had left off by this bust of an old woman. She looks menacing as hell.

Not unlike the usher nearby, who must have thought we snuck back in since she insisted on singling us out to check our tickets.

Unknown @ Borghese Gallery, Rome, Italy
A gorgeous painting. The color has that surreal three-dimensional look to it like so many others we’d seen. Does her expression betray her heavy-handedness with the blush or did someone just walk in on her cheating on her taxes?

Pantheon @ Borghese Gallery, Rome, Italy
Another pantheon of the gods. This isn’t the best we’ve seen, but it’s certainly not bad. What I like about it is that feeling of chumminess expressed here– the framing forces all of the characters into close proximity. They look like they’re having a good time, sitting on their stoop, passing around the booze and watching the sun set. It’s a very intimate and peaceful portrait of an otherwise cantankerous cast of characters.

Giuliano Finelli - Busto del cardinale Domenico Ginnasi @ Borghese Gallery, Rome, Italy
This is a bust of Cardinal Domenico Ginnasi. I don’t know much about him but his eyes are very unsettling. They’re dead. Just so…dead. They remind me of a magazine cover that bothers me every time I see it in the supermarket checkout line.

Amy Malone - First Magazine - July 2015
Those eyes.

Dead Eyes
They pierce my very soul and liquefy my bowels in an unfathomably Lovecraftian way. Just so, so dead.

Hurr Durr Big Dumb Face @ Borghese Gallery, Rome, Italy
“Heh heh heh, I just pissed in the municipal water supply.”

Tiziano Vecellio - Amor Sacro e Amor Profano (Sacred and Profane Love) @ Borghese Gallery, Rome, Italy
Hey! I know this one! Why does it look so familiar? I tell you, I’ve seen it before…

Smashing Pumpkins - The Sacred and the Profane
Don’t worry, 1990s. The rest of the world may have moved on but we’ll never forget you.

Titian also painted this one of Christ, flagellated:

Tiziano Vecellio - Cristo flagellato @ Borghese Gallery, Rome, Italy
Yet another image of Christ suffering, yes, but take a moment to really look at this one. Titian used shadow to great dramatic effect. Most of Christ’s body is shrouded in shadow. His wounds are definitely the highlight of the image; the eye is meant to see the lashings the man received at the hands of his captors.

Hidden slightly by shadow, though still visible, is his face. Look at his eyes. This is a man who has seen the worst humanity has to offer and knows more will follow. Most depictions of Jesus focus on his physical suffering; depending on what you’re looking at, he either looks emaciated to death or absolutely fucking ripped.

This is the first painting of Christ I’ve ever seen that seems to make any attempt to depict the way he actually feels.

Jacopo Palma il Vecchio - Lucrezia @ Borghese Gallery, Rome, Italy
It’s Lucrezia Borgia again, only now she’s a little older. She’s traded in her unicorn for a knife, listens to Sisters of Mercy and writes bad poetry. Daddy Pope is too busy trying to marry her off for political gain to pay her any attention.

Jacopo Zucchi - Amore e Psiche @ Borghese Gallery, Rome, Italy
Cupid and Psyche. One of the more bizarre stories in Greco-Roman lore. After getting married sight unseen and consummating their marriage in the darkness, Psyche’s sisters convinced her that her shadow husband was a demon. She snuck up on him with a knife and an oil lamp but when the light revealed he was pretty hot, she spilled hot wax all over him instead.

Cupid wasn’t into the whole BDSM thing so he freaked out and ran off.

Antonio Carracci - Giove e Giunone @ Borghese Gallery, Rome, Italy
She was a goddess. A goddess of children. A goddess of animals. The long hours spent watching over her flock left little time for romance.

He was confident. Sexy. The god of…everything else. When their eyes met in a heavenly hotel room, the flames of passion roared with the intensity of a thousand suns…

…until someone left the goddamn window open and the room was besieged by a bunch of armed children. And a peacock.

Domenichino - La caccia di Diana @ Borghese Gallery, Rome, Italy
This has got to be the shittiest hunting expedition I’ve ever seen.

On the left you have a bunch of idiots firing blindly from the crowd. On the right you have people directly in the line of fire, and in the foreground you have people who decided this was a fine time to take a bath. This is what I imagine a Gathering of the Juggalos looks like.

Surprisingly enough they managed to kill something but how the hell that’s going to feed this ship of fools is anybody’s guess.

And with that, we had finally finished touring the third floor of the Borghese Gallery. Time to finally move on to the statuary!


Pro-family and anti-drug, when he's not too busy living with four beautiful ladies, he likes long walks on the beach and poking dead things with sticks.

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