History of Art and Architecture

Enzo Borsellino Lecture


Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 4:00pm to 5:15pm

The Art Collection of Christina of Sweden (1626-1689): Cleopatra Rediscovered 

Enzo Borsellino, University ‘Roma Tre’

 A XVI century marble statue representing a nude Cleopatra was hidden and forgotten for more than a century in the attic of Corsini Palace in Rome, formerly the Riario Palace. There, between 1659 and 1689, Christina of Sweden spent the end of her life, having famously decided to renounce her throne to become Catholic and live in the city of Popes. During this time, she created a spectacular and important collection of ancient and modern art, unfortunately now dispersed worldwide. The piece in question is signed and dated 1574, a fact previously overlooked by everyone. Professor Borsellino will clarify the provenance of the statue and explain how it fortunately remained in the Riario-Corsini Palace until now. Long investigation has resulted in both the identification of the statue as a sculpture cited in two inventories of Christina’s art collection, where the figure was named for no reason “Venus” or “Nude woman”, and a careful reconstruction of the story of this marvelous and intriguing piece of art.

Professor Borsellino is visiting the University of Pittsburgh during the spring semester 2012 as a Distinguished Italian Fulbright Chair.  He is an Associate Professor in Museology at the University ‘Roma Tre’ and has published over seventy books and articles on art history and museum studies.