Early Photographs of the Family Museum

The Boncompagni Ludovisi collection photographed in 1860

By Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi

Historical photographs from the Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi (Casino Aurora, Rome)

Ludovisi Museum. Box for set of stereoscopic images. (1860) by Grillet (Naples)Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi

Stereoscopic images

Claude Victoire and Jean-Louis Grillet, from the Grillet firm, were French photographers based in Naples from the early 1850s. Their pioneering stereroscopic images included 14 classical and classicizing sculptures in the Boncompagni Ludovisi family collection as it stood in the mid-19th century. Today all but two of these sculptures are exhibited in the Museo Nazionale Romano Palazzo Altemps. 

Photographic views of Villa Ludovisi: House of the Statues (1885) by Ignazio Boncompagni Ludovisi, Principe di VenosaArchivio Boncompagni Ludovisi

This is a view (ca. 1885) of the private Casino delle Statue of the Villa Ludovisi in Rome. Elements of this building are today incorporated into a garage on the grounds of the US Embassy in Rome.

Ludovisi Museum. Sculpture of Pan and Daphnis. (1860) by Grillet (Naples)Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi

This is from Sala I of the Museum, toward the entrance along south wall. At the center is a sculpture of Pan and Daphnis, and to its right a portrait bust of Demosthenes.

Ludovisi Museum. Sculpture of Venus by Giambologna. (1860) by Grillet (Naples)Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi

We are still in Sala I, where placed along the east wall is a Venus (1583) of Giambologna, which came to the Ludovisi from the Cesarini collection. It was rediscovered in 1992 in the US Embassy, Rome.

Ludovisi Museum. Sculpture of Heracles. (1860) by Grillet (Naples)Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi

Also in Sala I along the east wall, a statue of Heracles, and to its right, a partial view of a seated, robed female figure.

Ludovisi Museum. Sculpture of Ares Ludovisi. (1860) by Grillet (Naples)Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi

Transitioning between Sala I and II: toward the north wall is the famed Ares Ludovisi (copy of 4th c. BCE original). Discovered in Rome's Campus Martius in 1622, it features renovations by Bernini.

Ludovisi Museum. Sculpture of Orestes and Electra. (1860) by Grillet (Naples)Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi

Now in Sala II, along north wall, the famed Orestes and Electra (1st c. BCE), signed by sculptor "Menelaus, pupil of Stephanus". Winckelmann identified Electra from the short hair, a sign of mourning.

Ludovisi Museum. Sculpture of satyr poutring wine. (1860) by Grillet (Naples)Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi

Still in Sala II, along the north wall: a statue of a pouring satyr, and to its right, an over life-size portrait head of a Roman male. The grapes in the satyr's right hand is a 16th c. restoration.

Ludovisi Museum. Colossal bust of Hera. (1860) by Grillet (Naples)Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi

Again in Sala II, along its east wall: a colossal head of Demeter with veil held in place by a tall diadem. Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi purchased this bust from the Cesi collection.

Ludovisi Museum. Sculptures of young Dionysus and suiciding Gaul and his wife. (1860) by Grillet (Naples)Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi

In Sala II, along the south wall: a young Dionysus, and to its right, a suiciding Gaul and his wife (from a Pergamene original). The statue group was found in the area of the Villa Ludovisi,

Ludovisi Museum. Colossal head of Juno Ludovisi. (1860) by Grillet (Naples)Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi

In Sala II along its west wall: the colossal head of the Juno Ludovisi (probably Antonia Minor, mother of Claudius). Henry James complained it was obscured by a shutter. which can be seen at left.

Ludovisi Museum. Rape of Proserpina, by Bernini. (1860) by Grillet (Naples)Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi

Still in Sala II, toward the west wall, the Juno Ludovisi, and Bernini’s Rape of Proserpina (1621/2), now in the Galleria Borghese in Rome. Note the uninspired placement of this famously 3D sculpture.

Ludovisi Museum. Colossal statue of seated Apollo with lyre. (1860) by Grillet (Naples)Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi

In Sala II, along the north wall: a colossal statue of a seated Apollo with lyre (the head is 16th century, and clearly inspired by that of the Apollo Belvedere), and a bust of Marcus Aurelius.

Ludovisi Museum. Resting warrior, with other sculptures. (1860) by Grillet (Naples)Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi

Sala II, looking along north wall toward west, from left: colossal statue of Hygieia; a female robed statue; colossal statue of Athena Parthenos; colossal seated Apollo with lyre; resting warrior.

Credits: Story

Story by T. Corey Brennan, in collaboration with †HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi.

Images discovered in 2017 by Tatiana Caltabellotta (Amministrazione Boncompagni Ludovisi).

Further reading on these sculptures as a collection:

Palma, B. (ed.) Museo Nazionale Romano. Le sculture 1.4: i Marmi Ludovisi, storia della Collezione. Milan: De Luca Editore, 1983.
Palma, B. and L. de Lachenal (edd.) Museo Nazionale Romano. Le Sculture. 1.5 I Marmi Ludovisi nel Museo Nazionale Romano. Milan: De Luca Editore, 1984.
Palma, B., L. de Lachenal and M.E. Micheli (edd.) Museo Nazionale Romano. Le sculture. I Marmi Ludovisi dispersi. I.6. Milan: De Luca Editore, 1986.
Scoppola, F. and S.D. Vordemann, Museo Nazionale Romano: Palazzo Altemps. Milan: Electa, 1997.
Giustozzi, N. et al., Palazzo Altemps Guide. Milan: Electa, 2012.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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