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. »
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.)