Ut Sculptura Poesis: The Poetic Origins of Bernini’s Sculptures in Villa Borghese
Presented by Dr. Paolo Alei
Additional Commentary by Dr. Rocky Ruggiero

Date & Time:
Thursday, April 22, 2021
11:00 am ET / 8:00 am PT

Special offer


EXCLUSIVE WEBINAR | “Ut Sculptura Poesis: The Poetic Origins of Bernini’s Sculptures in Villa Borghese”
Presented by Dr. Paolo Alei
Additional Commentary by Dr. Rocky Ruggiero

The extraordinary art collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1577-1633), housed in the famous Villa Borghese in Rome, was assembled and commissioned according to the concept of paragone. Based on the famous simile by poet Horace ut pictura poesis (painting is like poetry) in antiquity and theorized by Leonardo in the Renaissance, the paragone was a debate among poets, artists and patrons on the comparison of the arts. Essentially, Leonardo opened a complex reflection on the relationship between the arts and the senses in which Ovidian myths offered the metaphoric context for sophisticated discussions about painting and the sense of sight, sculpture and the sense of touch, poetry and the sense of hearing. Which medium could actually evoke the synesthetic realm and reach supremacy in the sophisticated intellectual world of Baroque Rome? With the sculptural groups of the Abduction of Persephone (c. 1622) and Apollo and Daphne (c. 1625), Gian Lorenzo Bernini entered into the debate by visually asserting that sculpture exhibited qualities which made it superior to all the other media. This lecture explores the way Bernini competed with ancient and modern sculptors (from Praxiteles to Michelangelo and Gianbologna) but also with poets (from Ovid to Petrarch and Marino) transforming a block of Carrara marble into an evocative poem.

Paolo Alei is an art historian from Rome. He is Professor of art history at the University of California (the UCEAP academic program in Italy) and Curator of the Museum of the Castle of Bracciano near Rome. He has a Master from Columbia University where he specialized on Venetian Renaissance Painting and a PhD from Oxford University where he completed a dissertation on the influence of the Natural History by Pliny the Elder on Italian Renaissance art. He has published several essays on Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, and a book on the history of the Venice Carnival. Recently, he coedited a monumental book about the patronage of the Orsini family in Central Italy. He is co-organizer of EMR (Early Modern Rome), one of the greatest conferences about Renaissance and Baroque culture in the world. Next appointment will be in November with more than 150 scholars. He is part of the organization of the Carnival of Venice, and he is currently completing an exhibition in the Castle of Bracciano with the Orpheon Foundation about art and music. There will be about 200 musical instruments perfectly functioning from 1550 to 1700. After having lived in Rome, San Francisco, New York, London, Istanbul and Venice, his next project is to go and live in Naples and study Renaissance art under the Spanish kings.

The webinar will include a 45-minute lecture followed by 15-minutes of Q&A.

Please note:

  • Your participation is confirmed once you have purchased your ticket. You will receive the Zoom link to join the presentation circa 30 minutes before the start time.
  • Space is limited for this lecture; only the first 1,000 people to click the “BOOK NOW” link will be able to tune in.
  • VIDEO RECORDING of the webinar will be available for unlimited streaming at your convenience for 7 days after the event.