Villa Albani  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Alessandro Albani is famous as the commissioner of the Villa Albani in Rome, projected in 1745. begun in 1751 according to Giuseppe Vasi and celebrated as complete in 1763 to house his evolving, constantly changing, sold, replaced and continually renewed series of collections of antiquities and Roman sculpture, which soon filled the casino that faced the Villa down a series of formal parterres. Albani's life-long friend Carlo Marchionni was the architect in charge, at the Villa and perhaps also for the two temples in the park, an Ionic temple of Diana and a sham ruin. The Albani antiquities were catalogued by the Cardinal's secretary, the first professional art historian, Johann Joachim Winckelmann, who was supported by Albani from the time the Seven Years' War stranded him in Rome without his pension andwhose own connoisseurship was sharpened by the connection. Turns of events after the Napoleonic upheavals forced the Albani heirs to sell the villa to the Chigi, who eventually sold it to the Torlonia, the richest Roman bankers of the 19th century, to whom the villa still belongs. Cardinal Albani's coins and medals went to the Vatican Library, over which he presided from 1761. The sarcophagi, columns and sculptures have been dispersed, but the famous bas-relief of Antinous remains in the villa.

Cardinal Albani had another villa with a large park at Porto d'Anzio, that was finished in February 1732, but was habitable for a few weeks only in spring because of malaria. Perhaps the villa, and certainly a casina in the park were by Marchionni. Excavations in the park brought to light many Roman sculptures. Here J. J. Winckelmann was housed.

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