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Old 01-05-2012, 01:50 PM   #312
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Arrow The Barberini family of the Italian nobility

The Barberini are a family of the Italian nobility that rose to prominence in 17th century Rome. Their influence peaked with the election of Cardinal Maffeo Barberini to the papal throne in 1623, as Pope Urban VIII. Their urban palace, the Palazzo Barberini, (completed in 1633 by Bernini), today houses Italy's Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica (National Gallery of Ancient Art).

The Barberini family were originally a family of minor nobility from the Tuscan town of Barberino Val d'Elsa, who settled in Florence during the early part of the 11th century.

The fine Palazzo Barberini, the Barberini library (now a core section of the Vatican's Biblioteca Apostolica), and the many buildings, altars, and other projects spread across Rome (and marked with the heraldic three bees) give evidence of the family's wealth, taste and magnificence in the seventeenth century. The family commissioned many artists, such as Lorenzo Ottoni, to undertake various Baberini-centric projects. The family were also important early patrons of opera, maintaining "star" singers like Marc'Antonio Pasqualini on payroll, and building the private Teatro delle Quattro Fontane. Many objects from the Barberini art collections are scattered in museums around the world including:

The Barberini Faun and Barberini Apollo, sold to Ludwig I of Bavaria and now in the Munich Glyptothek
The Barberini Venus
The Barberini Hera, also seen in this head;
The Portland Vase (once known as the Barberini Vase), bought from the family by Sir William Hamilton and now in the British Museum
The Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power

A nucleus remains in the hands of the family, as well as in the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, which occupies part of the Palazzo Barberini in Rome. The cultural influence of the dynasty was considerable, and provided the subject for a major international conference in December 2004 (and subsequent publication), entitled I Barberini e la Cultura Europea.

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