Palazzo Spada which has been the seat of the Council of the State and the gallery by the same name since 1927, is not far from the Palazzo Farnese, and is located in the small Piazza Capodiferro.
It was built in the middle of the sixteenth century by Bartolomeo Baronino for Cardinal Giacomo Capodiferro and its façade and courtyard are adorned with the excellent stuccoes by Giulio Mazzoni, the building is characteristic of the sixteenth-century aristocratic palace. It was bought by Cardinal Bernardino Spada in 1632, it underwent, according to his wishes, expansion and renovation work during which the seventeenth-century wing of the palace and the famous Perspective Gallery of Borromini (1652-53) was opened on the left side of the courtyard; the optical telescope of rare sophistication,which was able to transform, in the typical Baroque skill, a space of 8 metres into a flight of columns which are apparently 35 metres long, probably had a moralizing meaning intended to warn the visitor about the trick on the senses and about the illusoriness of the ground size.
The work is evidence of the cardinal’s strong scientific interests while the gallery, which was located on the piano nobile in rooms which were expressly created for exhibiting works, gave substance to the cardinal’s artistic preferences. Other members of the family added their contributions to the first nucleus of works, such as: Virginio and Orazio Spada (the former was the husband of Maria Varalli who had to bring a dowry of old and modern works of considerable importance for the collection), as well as Cardinal Filippo Spada, Bernardino’s great-grandson who lived at the beginning of the eighteenth century.
The gallery was restored to the state in 1951 after patient recuperation work of the material lost during the Second World War was carried out. The picture gallery occupies four large frescoed halls which also include old and modern fittings, furniture and marble; the ensemble thus successfully restores the characteristic appearance of the private collections of the seventeenth century where the paintings, arranged on the walls in successive rows, aspire to outlining, in an integrated and harmonious way, rooms with a clearly decorative aspect.
The collection includes important examples of seventeenth century paintings with works by Reni, Guercino, Carracci, Domenichino, Solimena, Preti and the Artemisia Gentileschi, as well as important pieces by the Nordic school (Bamboccio and Valentin), and a valuable Titian. One of the most important works is the sketch created by Baciccia for the fresco in the dome of the church of Jesus,while two splendid chandeliers in Murano glass in the third room and the maps of the world by Dutch cartographer Guglielmo Bleau stand out among the items on display.
Address Piazza Capodiferro, 13
Visiting Hours Every day from 8.30 am to 7.30 pm (the ticket office closes half an hour before the schedule closing time); Closed Monday, Dec. 25, Jan. 1
Telephone 06 6832409 – 6874896; Fax 06 6861158
Price € 5,00; concessions € 2,50; free admittance for those aged under 18 and over 65 (EU)