This museum, close to the Quirinal, belongs to the same organisation as the Galleria Borghese but no files here and no obliged "prenotazione". Actually there were few visitors for the collection of mainly Italian painters from 14 th - 17 th c.
The Palazzo Barberini is a nice baroque palace in a garden; the famous architects Bernini and Borromini worked on the project (photos 1 -2).
Although the Palazzo Barberini has not as famous works of art as the Borghese collection there are some very good paintings such as "La Fornarina" by Rafael. As a matter of fact I went there to see the original portrait of Erasmus (photo 3) by one of my favoured Flemish painters Quinten Metsys. There is also the famous portrait of King Henri VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger (photo 4).
A nice discovery was for me "La Maddalena" by Piero di Cosimo; this is a wonderful portrait (photo 5).
Another discovery is the fresco "Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power" from Pietro da Cortone (around 1635) on the vault of the Salon. As there are sofa beds in this salon the visitors can look at the 400 sqm ceiling in all comfort.
Open: Tuesday to Sunday, from 8.30 h to 19.30 h.
Closed: Monday, 1/01 and 25/12.
Tickets (2012): Full price € 5,00, Reduced € 2,50. Free for European Union citizens under 18 and over 65 years old.
We actually enjoyed the building of the Palazzo Barberini more than the art collection itself I think. That isn't to say the collection isn't great becuase it is, with some impressive works by caravaggio amongst other big names, but I just found the building to be even better. The courtyard staircase was very pleasant and I found some of the ceilings of the rooms to be more impressive than the paintings being exhibited in the rooms.
We actually had some trouble finding our way to the museum despite having 2 maps and 2 guidebooks with us. All of these seemed to be suggesting that the Palazzo Barberini was on Via Barberini near Barberini metro station. The entrance is actually off Via Delle Quattro Fontane, again just a couple of minutes walk (uphill) from Barberini metro station.
This is one of those museums where you have to put your bag in to a locker whilst you look around, which I always find a little (only a little) annoying.
Barberini was a very influential family in 17th century Rome. In 1623 Cardinal Matteo Barberini became Pope urban VIII, and this called for the construction of a new palace-residence, better suited for the family's new status. The construction was entrusted to architect Carlo Maderno, who was assisted by a young relative, Francesco Borromini. Maderno dies in 1629, and then Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who was a close friend of the Barberini, was called upon to help Borromini.
The result is a beautiful Baroque palace. The family coat of arms with its three bees can be seen everywhere. The rivalry between Bernini and Borromini is reflected in the "Rival Stairs", Bernini's tight angles versus Borromini's elliptical-shaped staircase.
Today the Palazzo Barberini houses the National Gallery of Ancient Art (Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica), a fine collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings. Some of the highlights are the majestic original palace ceilings by Pietro da Cortona, such as "The Triumph of Divine Providence", an intricate allegory of the rule of the Barberini Pope, Urban VIII. The museum makes it easier to admire these painted ceilings: There are couches in the center of the halls, and the museum employees actually encouraged us to lie down supine on these couches and take our time studying the ceiling paintings!
Other highlights include Raphael’s celebrated painting, "La Fornarina" ("The Baking Woman", he was supposedly desperately in love with this simple girl, and he painted a band carrying his name on her arm); Caravaggio’s "Judith beheading Holofernes", and his "Narcissus", and also Holbein's portrait of Henry VIII.
Photography is prohibited inside the galleries, so my photos are restricted to the museum's architectural elements and the poster of the Fornarina at the entrance.
If we needed any reminder that we were in Italy, there was a large sign on the ticket office desk: "Rooms 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 are closed due to staff shortage"!
Just 200 meters far from the Fontana del Tritone you can see the nice Palazzo Barberini. In the 14th century the sloping site has been occupied by a villa owned by the cardina Rodolfo Pio da Carpi member of the Sforza family. In 1625 the cardinal Francesco Barberini (the future pope Urban VIII) bought the villa.
Carlo Maderno, assisted by his nephew Francesco Borromini, was commissioned, in 1627, to enclose the Villa Sforza within a vast Renaissance block. The design quickly evolved into a precedent-setting combination of just such an urban seat of princely power combined with a garden front that had the nature of a suburban villa with semi-enclosed garden. When Maderno died in 1629, the project passed over in favor of Bernini.
The palazzo is disposed around a courtyard with a central oval salon. The main block presents three tiers of great arch-headed windows, like glazed arcades, a formula that was more Venetian than Roman. On the uppermost floor, Borromini's windows are set in a false perspective that suggests extra depth. A wonderful staircase lead to the piano nobile. The rooms of the piano nobile have frescoed ceilings by other seventeenth-century artists.
Today Palazzo Barberini houses the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, one of the most important painting collection in Italy. There you can see La fornarina by Raphael; Judith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio and much more.
Built on instruction from the Barberini Pope Urban VIIII from 1627 by Carlo Maderno, construction - incorporating in to the palazzo the original Villa Sforza - was overseen after his death in 1629 by Giovan Lorenzo Bernini aidied by Francesco Borromini, a descendant of Maderno. Consequently , attributing different facets of the architecture can be an inexact science - suffice to say the three men take the credit.
Partly closed for restoration 2005, his means that the combi-ticket with Galleria Villa Borghese is not such a bargain as the entry is currently reduced to EU5.
Great ceiling and works by CAravaggio, Vincent de Boulogne, Jacopo Bassano. No photographs in the galleries !
The Galleria di Arte Antica is located in the Palazzo Barberini. At the time of my visit, this was the best option in Rome to see the works of the great Italian masters as the Galleria Borghese was then undergoing renovations. For me this, gallery served as a great introduction to the works of the Italian masters from the Renaissance to the Baroque period. All the familiar artist are represented here, from Titian, Caravaggio and Canaletto. There are also works by non Italians like El Greco and Rubens.
The gallery is in a wonderful building that is worth visiting on its own, that being the Palazzo Barberini. This 17th century building has numerous wonderful salons, bedrooms and staircases all marvelously decorated in the Baroque style.
The museum has generous opening hours between April to October being open from 9am to 9pm. For the rest of the year it is closed at 5pm. It is 6 Euros for the price of admission.