Villa Morgagni Hotel Rome · The Museum of the Casina delle Civette

The Museurn of the Casina delle Civette was opened to the public in 1997. The building dates back to 1840 when Giuseppe Jappelli, a well-known Venetian architect and landscape designer drew up the plans for the Swiss lodge, giving it a rustic look, built with rough, exposed blocks of stones and wooden beams to imitate a mountain lodge or solitary "hut". Two latter transformations gave it its present appearance, one around 1910 and the other between 1917 and 1920 at the request of Giovanni Torlonia Jr., the nephew of Alessandro, who decided to transform it into a residence for himself according to the style of the times, abandoning the immense and grandiose palace. In the first stage of work a new wing called "the Hall", Twas added, as well as porticoes and dormers windows, while an outbuilding used to store tools was transformed into an annex for the servants. hus the complex attained the appearance and the name of "Medieval Village" but already in 1917, with the intervention of the young but already well-known architect Vincenzo Fasolo, new elements of the Art Nouveux style were introduced, enriching the building with an incredible profusion of turrets, bowwindows, arches, balconies and porticoes. The building took on an eclectic appearance with the imposition of different architectural styles but its main characteristic was the richness of decorative elements joined with the architecture in an interesting relationship of fusion and harmony. The entire complex was decorated with wrought iron, wall murals, majolica, stucco bas-reliefs, "boiseries," inlaid marble and above all windows of stained glass with the ever-present image of the owl from which the "Casina delle Civette" derives its name. The presence of so many and various stained glass windows determined its transformation, after its restoration, into a Museum of stained glass. The art of colored glass bonded with lead which was important in the Middle Ages and again in the 1800's, had a brief revival in the early years of the 1900's confirmed by the success of the First Exhibition of Artistic Stained Glass Windows, organized in 1912 under the encouragement of the master glass-maker Cesare Picchiarini. He gathered around his laboratory artists such as Duilio Cambellotti, Paolo Paschetto, Vittorio Grassi, and Umberto Bottazzi who prepared the cartoons for the windows that he then executed with such incredible technical skill. The glass works of Cesare Picchiarini decorated casements, balconies, bow-windows, creating refined affects of light and transparency, defining each room of the building by the subjects portrayed. In this way, geometrical designs alternated with fioral themes, roses, butterflies, ribbons and iris in lively colors, while other special subjects such as the owls or "the nail", with its grape vines, so called for the characteristic shape of the window, expressed the creativity of Duilio Cambellotti.

The death of Giovanni Torlonia in 1939 marked the beginning of the decline of the Casina and consequently the entire Villa. The Casina delle Civette, devastated by vandals and reduced little by little to a ruin, was brought back to its original state thanks to a six-year long restoration project that recovered the architecture and wherever possible the rich decoration. The restoration was accompanied by its transformation into a museum with the exhibition not only of the stained-glass windows commissioned by Giovanni Torlonia accurately replaced in their original locations after a difficult and delicate restoration, but also a substantial nucleus of other stained glass pieces, studies and cartoons. These works in large part came from the studio of Cesare Picchiarini, along with other studies, cartoons and works found on the antique market or through the heirs of Duilio Cambellotti and Paolo Paschetto. Thus, the museum's itinerary allows one to enjoy the original glass works accompanied by the studies and cartoons from which they were created or other works by the same author which illustrate the particular method of conception and creation of artistic stained-glass pieces from their design on paper to the composition of the many-colored glass pieces with fine lead sealing.

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