Galleria Spada

The Gallery is located on the first floor in a 17th-century wing of the Palace that belonged to Cardinal Girolamo Capodiferro (1502-1559), who had it built on pre-existing buildings owned by the family by the architect Bartolomeo Baronino of Casale Monferrato.

The history

Palazzo Capodiferro, which was almost fully completed in the Jubilee of 1550, including the stucco decorations embellishing the façade and courtyard, and the pictorial cycles on the Piano Nobile, was purchased in 1632 by Cardinal Bernardino Spada (1594-1661) for 3200 scudi from a Capodiferro heir.

The cardinal immediately commissioned a series of works that lasted thirty years and gave the palace a new and more sumptuous appearance. The first substantial change made involved the addition to the 16th-century body of the long wing that juts out to the left towards Via Giulia. This gave rise to the ‘Cardinal’s Gallery’, today known as the Third Room of the museum, and the Second Room. The remaining two Halls, known as the First Hall and the Fourth Hall, found their present arrangement several years later, in 1653, during an extensive phase of work that saw the renovation of the secret garden of the Melangoli, the creation of the Prospettiva by Borromini, and the spiral staircase leading to the museum itself.

The collection

Most of the works exhibited in the Spada Gallery come from the collection of Bernardino Spada, later augmented by new acquisitions thanks to his great-grandson Fabrizio Spada (1643-1717). A minor but significant contribution is due to the collecting passion of Virginio Spada (1596-1662), while numerous important antique and modern works became part of the collection following the marriage of Orazio Spada to the heiress Maria Veralli in 1636.

Palazzo Spada was purchased, with all its furnishings and gallery, by the Italian State in 1927 and currently houses the State Council.

The Collection was reassembled after the events of the Second World War and includes paintings (mainly from the 17th and 13th centuries), antique sculptures, furnishings and period furniture, as well as works by Guercino, Baciccia, Orazio Gentileschi, Artemisia Gentileschi, Guido Reni, Titian and Brueghel the Elder. In the courtyard you can also visit the famous Galleria Prospettica built by Borromini in just one year, whose illusory depth is more than thirty metres, quite different from the real depth of about nine metres. The deceptive effect is based on the convergence of the planes of the colonnade which, instead of proceeding in parallel, converge towards a single vanishing point, degrading from top to bottom and shrinking at the bottom as the floor rises.

Photo: Galleria Spada, Rome

Piazza Capo di Ferro, Rome, RM, Italy
Opening hours:

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 8.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. (ticket office closes at 7 p.m.).

Closing time:

Tuesday

Average visit time:

1 hour

Books and guides

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