Ultimate Guide to the Must-See Borghese Gallery Sculptures

The Borghese Gallery, nestled in the heart of Rome, Italy, is a treasure trove of paintings, sculptures, and antiques belonging to the Borghese family, particularly of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who assembled these remarkable works in the 17th century. The museum preserves masterpieces by Caravaggio, Raphael, Titan, Antonello da Messina, Raffaello, and Canova.

Explore the Borghese Gallery Collection
Borghese Gallery's sculptures

The Borghese Gallery's sculptures span two floors – the ground floor and the first floor – with multiple rooms dedicated to their display. But the collection is not bound by the gallery walls; the Borghese Gallery Gardens is also brimming with sculptures for visitors to admire.

Although the Borghese Gallery houses a large collection of works, here are some of the most famous sculptures on display, that you should definitely view during your visit.

The Rape of Proserpina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini , Borghese Gallery

The Rape of Proserpina

Artist: Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Year: 1621-1622

Location: Ground floor of the Borghese Gallery

This sculpture portrays the abduction of Proserpina by Pluto, the god of the underworld. Standing at approximately 2.25 meters, it is carved from Carrara marble, enhancing the fine appearance and expressive faces of the subjects. Proserpina's struggle to break free from Pluto's muscular grasp is evident, and this theatrical quality of the sculpture makes this piece a prime example of Baroque artistry.

David by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Borghese gallery


Artist: Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Year: 1623-1624

Location: Ground floor of the Borghese Gallery

Bernini's rendition of David, a popular subject during the Renaissance, captures the moment David prepares to strike Goliath with a stone. Unlike other interpretations, Bernini's David emphasizes the hero's flaws and determination as he prepares with all his might to hit Goliath with the stone. Though unfinished from the back as it was meant to be hung on the wall, this Baroque-style sculpture remains iconic.

Apollo and Daphne by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Borghese Gallery

Apollo and Daphne

Artist: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, with contributions from his student Giuliano Finelli

Year: 1622-1625

Location: Ground floor of the Borghese Gallery

This sculpture, one of the last works commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, depicts the mythological encounter between Apollo and Daphne. As Apollo's desire for Daphne grows, she rejects him and prays to Peneus that the beauty that injures her or the body that destroys her life be transformed. Before her prayer ends, her arms turn into thin barks and her legs into roots, her hair into moving leaves but Apollo’s love for her remains unchanged. The intricate details of the sculpture, such as Apollo's curls and Daphne's transformation into a tree, showcase Bernini's remarkable craftsmanship.

Venus Victrix by Antonio Canova, Borghese Gallery

Venus Victrix

Artist: Antonio Canova

Year: 1805-1808

Location: Ground floor of the Borghese Gallery

This life-sized, neo-classical portrait of Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister, depicts her as the goddess Venus. Commissioned by her husband, Camilio Borghese, the semi-nude sculpture exudes elegance and strength as she holds an apple, symbolizing her supremacy among female divinities The name of the sculpture, Venus Victrix, translates to Venus the Victorious.

Borghese Gallery Sculptures

The Goat Amalthea with the Infant Jupiter and a Faun

Artist: Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Year: 1605-1615

Location: Ground floor of the Borghese Gallery

This early masterpiece by Gian Lorenzo Bernini is based on the mythological story of Zeus and the goat Amalthea. To save Zeus from being swallowed by his father, Kronos, his mother Rhea, gave Kronos a stone wrapped to look like a baby and gave the infant Zeus to Amalthea to nurse in a cave on a mountain in Crete. This sculpture is one of three surviving putti artworks created by Bernini.

Neptune,  Borghese Gallery


Artist: Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Year: early 1620s

Location: Room IV, Borghese Gallery

This 52 m bronze sculpture of Neptune, commissioned by Cardinal Di Montalto, depicts the god wielding a trident, giving the illusion that he is about to strike. Neptune stands astride a seashell with Triton between his legs. Though belonging to the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica in Rome, the design has been on loan to the Borghese Gallery since 1945.

Borghese Gallery Sculptures

Sleeping Hermaphroditus

Artist: Original invention by Polykyles, restored by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Year: 2nd century A.D., with Bernini's mattress created in 1620

Location: Room V of the Borghese Gallery

Depicting the myth of the child of Hermes and Aphrodite, this Parisian marble sculpture has been in existence since the 2nd century A.D. With 20 known copies around the world, the version at the Borghese Gallery, originally created by Polykyles, has been restored by Bernini, who was also commissioned to create the buttoned mattress on which Hermaphroditus lies. 

Borghese Gallery Sculptures

Statutes of Black Hunters Truth Unveiled with Time

Artist: Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Year: 1646-1652

Location: Room VI, Borghese Gallery

This exquisite, 280 cm tall marble sculpture represents truth as a naked young woman, allegorically unveiled by time. Though incomplete, it remains one of Bernini's most valuable works. In Bernini’s will, he left the sculpture to the firstborn of his descendants and the sculpture remained with the family till 1924 after which the Italian government purchased it and it is now housed in the Borghese Gallery.

Borghese Gallery Sculptures

Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius

Artist: Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Year: 1618-1619

Location: Room VI, Borghese Gallery

This life-sized, white marble sculpture represents three generations of the Aeneas family, illustrating a scene from the Aeneid with Aeneas leading his family from Troy. Created by Bernini when he was just twenty years old, it is said to be inspired by works of Raphael and Michelangelo.

Borghese Gallery Sculptures

Busts of Cardinal Scipione Borghese

Artist: Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Year: 1632

Location: Room XIV, Borghese Gallery

These two Carrara marble busts of Cardinal Scipione Borghese are renowned for their Baroque aesthetic, depicting an alert gaze and half-open mouth. After completing the first sculpture, Bernini  discovered a crack in the first sculpture, which motivated him to create a second one in just three days. However, the initial version is considered superior.

What are the most famous Borghese Gallery sculptures?

 Some of the most famous sculptures at Borghese gallery are Bernini’s David, The Rape of Prospernia, Sleeping Hermaphroditus, and Antonio Canova’s Venus Victrix.

Where can I find the Borghese Gallery sculptures?

 The Borghese gallery sculptures are placed on two floors in the Borghese Gallery museums. While visiting the Borghese Gallery, ensure that you do not miss out on the stunning sculptures that are placed in the Borghese Gallery Gardens.

Can I see the Borghese Gallery sculptures?

Yes, you can visit the Borghese Gallery and see the sculptures by purchasing a ticket and visiting the museum.

Do I have to pay to see the Borghese Gallery sculptures?

Yes, you have to pay for a ticket to see the Borghese Gallery sculptures. The tickets can be purchased in advance or on the day of your visit, but it's recommended to book in advance to ensure availability. The price of tickets start from €27.

Is there a guided tour of the Borghese Gallery sculptures?

Yes, there are guided tours available at the Borghese Gallery that can help you explore and understand all the sculptures. The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who provide information about the history, art, and significance of the sculptures.

How old are the Borghese Gallery sculptures?

The collection by Cardinal Scipione Borghese began in the 16th century. Most of the sculptures in the Borghese Gallery were either acquired or commissioned during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Are the Borghese sculptures worth a visit?

Yes, the Borghese Gallery sculptures are definitely worth a visit. The collection is considered one of the most significant art collections in the world, and it features works by some of the greatest artists in history. The museum is also located in a beautiful park, making for a lovely day out in Rome.

Can you take photos inside the Borghese Gallery?

Yes, taking photos inside the Borghese Gallery is allowed. However taking photos is only permitted without the use of flash. You should also ensure that you are not using selfie sticks within the museum.