Cabinet de Ludovisio (prince)

Témoignage de John Evelyn (1644)

Ce cabi­net fait par­tie du cata­logue don­né par Pierre Borel en 1649 à la suite de ses Anti­qui­tez… de la Ville, et Com­té de Castres d'Albigeois, p. 124 à 131, sous le titre de Roole des prin­ci­paux cabi­nets curieux, et autres choses remar­quables qui se voyent ez prin­ci­pales Villes de l'Europe.
Pierre Borel men­tionne, pour la ville de Rome : "Rome.   Le Vati­can, le Cabi­net de Mar­quise Jus­ti­nia­no, de Franc. Ange­la­nus, et du Prince à Ludo­vi­sio."

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Voi­ci ce qu'en dit John Eve­lyn en 1644 :

10th Novem­ber. We went to see Prince Ludovisio’s vil­la, where was for­mer­ly the Viri­da­rium of the poet, Salust. The house is very magni­ficent, and the extent of the ground excee­din­gly large, consi­de­ring that it is in a city ; in eve­ry quar­ter of the gar­den are antique sta­tues, and walks plan­ted with cypress. To this gar­den belongs a house of reti­re­ment, built in the figure of a cross, after a par­ti­cu­lar ordon­nance, espe­cial­ly the stair­case. The whi­te­ness and smooth­ness of the excellent par­ge­ting was a thing I much obser­ved, being almost as even and poli­shed, as if it had been of marble. Above, is a fair pros­pect of the city. In one of the cham­bers hang two famous pieces of Bas­sa­no, the one a Vul­can, the other a Nati­vi­ty ; there is a Ger­man clock full of rare and extra­or­di­na­ry motions ; and , in a lit­tle room below are many pre­cious marbles, columns, urns, vases, and noble sta­tues of por­phy­ry, orien­tal ala­bas­ter, and other rare mate­rials. About this fabric is an ample area, envi­ro­ned with six­teen vast jars of red earth, whe­rein the Romans used to pre­serve their oil, or wine rather, which they buried, and such as are pro­per­ly cal­led testæ. In the Palace I must never for­get the famous sta­tue of the Gla­dia­tor, spo­ken of by Pli­ny, so much fol­lo­wed by all the rare artists as the many copies tes­ti­fy, dis­per­sed through almost all Europe, both in stone and metal. There is also a Her­cules, a head of por­phy­ry, and one of Mar­cus Aure­lius. In the vil­la-house is a man’s body flesh and all, petri­fied, and even conver­ted to marble, as it was found in the Alps, and sent by the Empe­ror to one of the Popes ; it lay in a chest or cof­fin, lined with black vel­vet, and one of the arms being bro­ken, you may see the per­fect bone from the flesh which remains entire. The Rape of Pro­ser­pine, in marble, is of the purest white, the work of Ber­ni­ni. In the cabi­net near is are innu­me­rable small brass figures, and other curio­si­ties. But what some look upon as excee­ding all the rest, is a very rich bed­stead (which sort of gross fur­ni­ture the Ita­lians much glo­ry in, as for­mer­ly did our grand­fa­thers in England in their inlaid woo­den ones) inlaid with all sorts of pre­cious stones and antique heads, onyxes, agates, and cor­ne­lians, estee­med to be worth 80 or 90,000 crowns. Here are also divers cabi­nets and tables of Flo­rence work, besides pic­tures in the gal­le­ry, espe­cial­ly the Apollo—a concei­ted chair to sleep in with the legs stret­ched out, with hooks, and pieces of wood to draw out lon­ger or shor­ter.

(The dia­ry of John Eve­lyn, Ed. William Bray, J.M. DENT et E.P DULTON, Lon­don-New York, 1905, Tome I, p.109–110.)