One of the most celebrated gardens in early modern Rome was built by Cardinal Federico Cesi (d. 1565) near St. Peter’s Basilica. Earlier studies of the site have concentrated on the famous sixteenth-century antiquities collection displayed in the garden. The Afterlife of the Cesi Garden: Family Identity, Politics, and Memory in Early Modern Rome shifts the scholarly focus to also examine the changing appearance, functions, and the broader social, political, and economic significance of the garden for the Cesi family and for the city of Rome over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Through a close analysis of visual evidence, unpublished archival documents, and a plan of the garden by the architect Giovanni Battista Contini (d. 1723), Katherine M. Bentz demonstrates that the long post-Renaissance afterlife of the Cesi Garden reveals the ways in which politics shaped specific urban environments in Rome, how aristocratic Romans considered and used gardens over generations, and the vital and symbolic role that the garden played for centuries.

Of all the gardens in early modern Rome, one of the most celebrated was built by Cardinal Federico Cesi (1500–65). Neighboring St. Peter’s Basilica to the southeast and extending along the edge of the Janiculum Hill to the Porta Santo Spirito, the garden enveloped the cardinal’s palace, which overlooked St. Peter’s and its piazza (Figure 1). At the time of the garden’s construction, the Cesi family—members of a provincial upper class hailing from villages in southern Umbria—had been settled in Rome for just one generation. Although Federico’s elder brother had also been a cardinal, the family lacked the wealth and noble titles associated with the more established baronial aristocracy and papal elite. Federico’s promotion therefore catapulted him into a position of greater wealth and social prestige than he had ever known.1 Like other newly appointed cardinals without a distinguished presence in Rome, Federico invested his increased income in expanding and embellishing his palace property to a level befitting his newfound status. From the late 1540s until his death, he took a particular interest in his garden, doubling its original size and filling it with fountains, plantings, architectural structures, and a large collection of ancient sculpture and inscriptions. He also established a robust fedecommesso (a bequest of hereditary property) to ensure that the garden and its contents would forever preserve his memory and the ennobled status of his family.

Figure 1

Étienne Dupérac, Plan of Rome, 1577, detail of the Cesi Palace and Garden in the Vatican Borgo (after Franz Ehrle, Roma prima di Sisto V: La pianta di Roma Du Pérac-Lafréry del 1577 [Rome: Danesi, 1908])

Figure 1

Étienne Dupérac, Plan of Rome, 1577, detail of the Cesi Palace and Garden in the Vatican Borgo (after Franz Ehrle, Roma prima di Sisto V: La pianta di Roma Du Pérac-Lafréry del 1577 [Rome: Danesi, 1908])

To date, scholarly analysis of this illustrious garden has largely focused on its most famous attraction, Cardinal Federico’s antiquities collection. But such a concentration neglects the garden’s design, its functions, and its broader economic, social, and symbolic meaning during the two hundred years it was owned by the Cesi family.2 Indeed, the traditional model for studies of gardens that are contemporary with the Cesi Garden centers on taking inventory of ancient statuary and inscriptions and decoding the iconographic programs embedded in their display.3 While useful for understanding how a garden might reflect the intentions of a patron or designer, this model too often treats the garden as a mere repository for sculptural objects and disregards the spatial and temporal experiences of the garden, along with its horticultural or agricultural dimensions. Iconographic studies favor a thematic program based on literary texts, and presume that viewers, regardless of cultural or social background, could decipher and appreciate abstruse meanings. Further, an iconographic reading of a garden depends upon the idea that the program—the statuary display—remained unified and unchanged over time. A singular emphasis on the sculpture collection thus helps very little in understanding the broader uses and significance of the Cesi Garden during its long history. To affix the label “Renaissance sculpture garden” to the site limits its role in the urban history of Rome over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and its importance for the Cesi, who owned the property until the mid-eighteenth century.4

The most precise rendering of the Cesi Garden, a plan found in the Archivio di Stato in Rome, reveals not only the partial layout of the sixteenth-century garden but also the tremendous changes in appearance and function it experienced during later generations (Figures 2 and 3).5 Executed during the family’s attempt to sell the property around 1681, it depicts in careful detail the various spaces and structures comprising the cinquecento garden parterre behind the Cesi Palace. At the same time, this plan indicates the significantly reduced size of the property owing to forced land acquisitions by later noble and papal rivals whose social power exceeded that of the Cesi. The plan’s legend also suggests that a change in function occurred in the seventeenth century: it lists spaces for planting, water sources, and inventories the usable marble and travertine on site. It also emphasizes the absence of the ancient sculpture collection, describing the garden pavilion as “the site they called the Statuario made very beautiful with a vault overhead adorned with stuccoes and paintings and colored marbles as one can see at present, where all of the statues of the House of Cesi were in the old days” ( Appendix, no. 7). The plan and this nostalgic sentiment underscore challenges in the study of sites like the Cesi Garden, as early modern gardens endured for generations in various forms with numerous functions. Landscapes, especially urban gardens, are never static spaces. Rather, they are subject to radical changes stemming from environmental, physical, economic, and social factors. A garden defies definition as a discrete object marked by the parameters of a historical moment; instead a garden invites an investigation that fully considers the process of change, as its significance is affected by its temporality.

Figure 2

Giovanni Battista Contini, plan of the Cesi Garden, ca. 1681. (A) palace; (B) parterre; (C) vigna; (D) giardino segreto (Archivio di Stato di Roma, Arch. Mass., 158, no. 70, reproduced by permission of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali ASR 37/2007)

Figure 2

Giovanni Battista Contini, plan of the Cesi Garden, ca. 1681. (A) palace; (B) parterre; (C) vigna; (D) giardino segreto (Archivio di Stato di Roma, Arch. Mass., 158, no. 70, reproduced by permission of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali ASR 37/2007)

Figure 3

Plan of the Cesi Garden, detail of lower garden. (1) palace; (2) parterre; (3) covered loggia; (4) Roma Triumphans; (5) grotto and retaining walls; (6) basin for watering plants; (7) Antiquario; (8–9) Cenacolo; (10) gate flanked by bench seats; (11–12) vigna (Archivio di Stato di Roma, Arch. Mass., 158, no. 70, reproduced by permission of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attivatà Culturali ASR 37/2007)

Figure 3

Plan of the Cesi Garden, detail of lower garden. (1) palace; (2) parterre; (3) covered loggia; (4) Roma Triumphans; (5) grotto and retaining walls; (6) basin for watering plants; (7) Antiquario; (8–9) Cenacolo; (10) gate flanked by bench seats; (11–12) vigna (Archivio di Stato di Roma, Arch. Mass., 158, no. 70, reproduced by permission of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attivatà Culturali ASR 37/2007)

Shifting the focus from sculpture to include the changing appearance, the function, and the social and economic role of the Cesi Garden over its long history reveals the ways in which aristocratic Romans and their peers used and viewed gardens not just during a single point in time but over generations. In making this shift, this essay draws upon recent scholarship that examines landscape as an active agent in generating social and cultural meaning.6 Together with current research on family strategies and palace building, and the social functions and reception history of antiquities collecting in Rome, this scholarship points to new possibilities for the interpretation of the Cesi Garden and other contemporary gardens.7 Indeed, the long history of the Cesi Garden, in particular, illustrates early modern attitudes and practices regarding inheritance, antiquities, the value of urban property, and agricultural production, as well as the unstable terrain of social power throughout the early modern period.

Cardinal Federico Cesi strived to proclaim his family’s noble standing and to protect his memory by building his famous garden and preserving it with a fedecommesso. But he could no more stop the effects of time on his garden than he could control the inevitable changes to the cityscape and the future actions of his heirs. What served Cardinal Federico primarily as a pleasure park decorated with fountains and statues in the sixteenth century was by the seventeenth century used largely as arable land that his descendants rented for profit. Changes in the garden therefore point to a historical commonplace in the history of Rome as an urban palimpsest: the decline and dissolution of a once-great monument as the landscape becomes altered by the demands of a new age. The deterioration of the garden also reflects the diminishing social and economic standing of the Cesi as more powerful families eclipsed their status during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But the survival of the garden in its varied forms and its critical role in the history of Rome in later generations also speaks to the adaptive and tenacious efforts of the Cesi to maintain their noble status in challenging times.

This essay examines the ownership and use of antiquities, the influence of politics in the acquisition or loss of land, and the agricultural activity in the Cesi Garden during its long post-Renaissance afterlife—its less illustrious, but no less important, history following the death of Cardinal Federico. In so doing, it argues that the Cesi Garden was by no means a passive victim to the vicissitudes of time, but that it played a vital economic and enduring symbolic role for the Cesi family and for the city of Rome throughout the early modern period.

Building an Identity: Cardinal Federico’s Garden

Although Cardinal Federico commissioned other architectural projects in Rome, his special efforts to build and preserve his garden indicate that he considered his property to be a powerful public statement of his rising social status and an essential building block for establishing a dynasty of noble descendants.8 He had inherited his palace, garden, and a small antiquities collection a few years before he became cardinal, at the death of his elder brother Paolo Emilio in 1537.9 Known for his patronage of humanists and passion for collecting ancient inscriptions, Paolo Emilio purchased a fifteenth-century palace with stables, a giardino segreto, and a small vineyard near the Porta Cavalleggeri in 1521.10 He soon displayed there a growing collection of ancient sculpture, some of which Dutch artist Maarten van Heemskerck depicted in the early 1530s (Figure 4).11 Like many gardens of this early period, Paolo Emilio’s was decorated with antiquities arranged around fountains and in thematic groupings, utilizing ancient ruins or medieval structures existing on-site.12

Figure 4

Maarten van Heemskerck, Garden of the Palazzo Cesi in the Borgo, ca. 1532–36 (From the Roman Sketchbook I, 79 D 2, fol. 25r [bpk Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen, Berlin/Jörg P. Anders/Art Resource, NY])

Figure 4

Maarten van Heemskerck, Garden of the Palazzo Cesi in the Borgo, ca. 1532–36 (From the Roman Sketchbook I, 79 D 2, fol. 25r [bpk Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen, Berlin/Jörg P. Anders/Art Resource, NY])

After his promotion to the cardinalate, and especially during the later 1540s and 1550s, Cardinal Federico made sweeping changes to the property he inherited and additions to the sculpture display. Among his first alterations was the acquisition of vigna property (roughly 6.5 acres) along the lower slopes of the Janiculum Hill bordering the Vatican Borgo, an area also known as the Monte Santo Spirito.13 The land was owned by the nearby Ospedale di Santo Spirito in Sassia, but in 1553 Cardinal Federico decided that he wanted this land to expand his garden. He argued before the Maestri delle strade (civic officials in charge of urban planning) that earlier papal legislation entitled him to the land, citing bulls that legalized the forced sale of adjacent property to neighbors who wanted to expand their estates, provided that the project would enhance the city.14 After some negotiation, the Maestri delle strade ruled in Cesi’s favor, allowing the powerful cardinal to more than double his garden in size. Late sixteenth-century city maps show the extent of the Cesi Garden after 1553 and suggest that under the cardinal’s ownership, the hillside land was cultivated with trees and vineyards, and had display locations for ancient sculpture (see Figure 1).15

In addition to expanding his property, Cardinal Federico commissioned extensive architectural works to frame the lower area of the garden as a parterre behind his palace (see Figure 2, B and Figure 3, nos. 2–10). His architect, the Florentine Guidetto Guidetti,16 constructed retaining walls along the surrounding steep hillsides (see Figure 2, C) and refurbished the existing medieval tower of the Porta Cavalleggeri as a covered loggia for relaxation and dining (see Figure 3, no. 3).17 He built the Antiquario, a small and ornately decorated Greek cross–plan pavilion, as a temple all’antica to display some of the cardinal’s most precious statues and busts (see Figure 3, no. 7).18 Guidetti also designed the Cenacolo, an opulent open-air suite for entertaining on the eastern side of the parterre, which included planted shade trees, a well, and ornate marble furniture (see Figure 3, no. 9). Between these architectural structures and the palace, the parterre was divided into four quadri or rectangular planting beds lined with hedges, in keeping with the fashionable geometric designs of other contemporary gardens (see Figure 2, B).19 Finally, Cardinal Federico had elaborate gates erected for entrances to his garden, one of which contained an inscription welcoming his friends and visitors (Figure 5).20

Figure 5

Giovannantonio Dosio, project drawing for a Cesi Garden gate, second half of the 16th century (Rome, Museo di Roma, MR 2733, GS 4474)

Figure 5

Giovannantonio Dosio, project drawing for a Cesi Garden gate, second half of the 16th century (Rome, Museo di Roma, MR 2733, GS 4474)

What perhaps most attracted visitors to the Cesi Garden was the cardinal’s prized collection of antiquities and the manner in which he had them displayed throughout the site. Like collections in other mid-cinquecento Roman gardens, Cesi’s works were mounted atop pedestals or ancient funerary altars at the end points of each pathway, in the center of the quadri in the parterre, and along the meandering paths in the hillside vigna.21 Ancient sculpture and reliefs served as focal points in fountains, were embedded in the walls around the garden parterre, and filled the interiors of the Antiquario and the other garden rooms, as well as the courtyard and apartments of the palace. The display of sculpture in the garden is represented in the evocative painting by Hendrick van Cleve III, Cardinal Cesi’s Garden in Rome, dated 1584 (Figure 6).22 In this image, the artist has rendered the north, east, and south wings of the palace as incomplete and under construction in order to present a view of the parterre and the giardino segreto to the east (left) of the palace (see also Figure 2, D). The painting also depicts the steep hillside of the garden vigna east of the palace and parterre (see also Figure 2, C). Though he has manipulated the architecture and topography of the site (omitting some architectural elements, placing the Tiber River too close to the garden, and reducing the size of the Monte Santo Spirito), Van Cleve presents a vivid sense of the layout of the garden and its sculptural decoration as a popular attraction for visitors.

Figure 6

Hendrick van Cleve III, Sculpture Garden of Cardinal Cesi, 1584 (Photograph © National Gallery in Prague 2013)

Figure 6

Hendrick van Cleve III, Sculpture Garden of Cardinal Cesi, 1584 (Photograph © National Gallery in Prague 2013)

The most renowned sculpture group in the garden, the Roma Triumphans—a personification of Rome’s power and authority over her enemies—stood in the heart of the parterre, commanding the attention of visitors as soon as they entered from the palace (see Figure 3, no. 4). This group consisted of two standing “Captive Barbarian Kings” and a statue of Demeter refashioned as an enthroned “Dea Roma” with a relief of “Weeping Dacia” below her feet (Figure 7).23 Although the barbarian figures had been part of the collection owned by his elder brother, Cardinal Federico acquired the Roma in the mid-1540s and had the whole group restored and assembled under an aedicula at the end of the central path leading from the palace—the most prominent visual axis in the parterre.24 This group was immediately famous, as evidenced by its representation in a print published by Antonio Lafréry in Rome in 1549 (Figure 8). The inscriptions at the bottom of Lafréry’s print describe the subject and explain that these ancient and venerable statues stand in a special place of honor in the garden of Cardinal Federico Cesi.25 Subsequent sixteenth-century prints reproducing the group, along with prints recording other Cesi objects, further promoted the increasing fame of Cardinal Federico’s garden.26

Figure 7

Roma Triumphans and Captive Barbarian Kings, Musei Capitolini, Rome (author’s photos)

Figure 7

Roma Triumphans and Captive Barbarian Kings, Musei Capitolini, Rome (author’s photos)

Figure 8

Nicolas Beatrizet, Cesi Roma Triumphans, from Antonio Lafréry, Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae, Rome, 1549 (Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University)

Figure 8

Nicolas Beatrizet, Cesi Roma Triumphans, from Antonio Lafréry, Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae, Rome, 1549 (Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University)

The cardinal’s ancient epigraphy collection also helped to ensure the fame of the garden and the Cesi name. Funerary urns, sarcophagi, ancient altars, and fragments with inscriptions were installed throughout the garden and the palace courtyard. A concentrated number of inscriptions that included names such as Caesius, Caeselliae, and Caesonius—names with phonetic association to Cesi—were prominently displayed in places such as the Cenacolo on the eastern side of the parterre (Figure 9; see also Figure 3, no. 8–9).27 These inscriptions provided evidence of supposed ancient Cesi ancestry and authentic romanitas (Romanness) to visitors. Mantuan envoy Giovan Francesco Arrivabene and Bolognese scholar Ulisse Aldrovandi, who each visited the garden around 1550, remarked that the cardinal had displayed his inscriptions for this very reason.28

Figure 9

Giovanni Colonna da Tivoli, inscriptions and Lion from area of the Cenacolo in the Cesi Garden (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. Lat. 7721, fol. 14v, © 2013 Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, reproduced by permission of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, all rights reserved)

Figure 9

Giovanni Colonna da Tivoli, inscriptions and Lion from area of the Cenacolo in the Cesi Garden (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. Lat. 7721, fol. 14v, © 2013 Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, reproduced by permission of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, all rights reserved)

Cardinal Cesi’s efforts to shape a prominent identity as head of a wealthy, distinguished, and venerable Roman family through the construction of his garden were successful. The circulation of printed and published images of garden sculpture, drawings of Cesi antiquities by antiquarians and artists, and descriptions of the garden in printed guidebooks and personal letters solidified the fame of the Cesi Garden as a necessary stop while touring the city.29 These descriptions praised the garden for its lush vegetation, fountains, precious antiquities, inventive display settings, and its convenient location, just steps away from St. Peter’s and the Apostolic Palace. Admiration for the garden naturally extended to the owner himself, as we see in Aldrovandi’s guidebook written in 1550. According to Aldrovandi, Cardinal Federico was a “noble soul” because he spared no expense to collect beautiful works for his garden. Whoever enters the garden, wrote Aldrovandi, “is astonished and full of wonder and pleasure, for it seems to him like entering Paradise. The Lord God willing, this good sir will enjoy a happy and long life.”30 For Aldrovandi and others, the Cesi Garden and Cardinal Federico’s largess in opening it for the delight of visitors, demonstrated the nobility of the cardinal and his family.

Preserving an Identity: Cardinal Federico’s Fedecommesso

Following the extensive construction of his garden, Cardinal Federico resolved to make certain that his estate—and his prized garden and antiquities in particular—would forever remain intact and in the hands of his heirs. In April 1555 he finalized the legal documents that would comprise his last testament.31 His will included a primogenitura (the right of succession of the firstborn male) and a fedecommesso, legal instruments that came into widespread use in early modern Italy to guarantee the continuation of bloodlines and the transmission of wealth, and thus, to sustain noble dynasties.32 But in addition to a list of orders for the distribution of charitable gifts and the succession of heirs, Cardinal Federico’s testament prescribes some fascinating requirements for the inheritance of his estate and the preservation of his, and his family’s, status. Each heir, with the exception of his first heir and nephew Angelo, must take the name Federico before assuming the legacy; each must employ the coat of arms devised by the cardinal; and each must swear to uphold the laws of the fedecommesso before a senator in an official public ceremony on the Capitoline Hill. In following these rules, the heir would acquire all of the cardinal’s present and future property, goods, and assets. Although the cardinal allowed the leasing of his property for profit, he strictly forbade its alienation by sale or donation of any kind, particularly his palace, garden, and antiquities collection. Such directives are not uncommon in fedecommessi, especially in later examples. But Cardinal Federico clearly had a specific agenda in devising his testament.

Having invested so much of his time, money, and care in the building of his garden, Cardinal Federico wanted it to remain wholly preserved after his death. His will expressly stated that nothing in the garden could be changed or sold:

… the marble statues, epitaphs and marble tablets and the rest of the ancient things in the courtyard or cloister and portico of the palace and in the garden and the hillside vineyard … cannot from said courtyard, cloister, portico, vineyard … be moved at any time, but must remain there perpetually as part of the palace and placed under this trust …33

In addition, he ordered that an inventory be made of the property a week after his death so that future owners could keep close account of their inheritance. Should an heir fail to maintain these laws, he would lose all rights of inheritance. Cardinal Federico sought to demonstrate Cesi romanitas by displaying ancient sculpture and “family” inscriptions in his garden, and he wanted these markers of identity to remain protected after his death.

By using a fedecommeso to safeguard these markers, Cardinal Federico was following the precedent of earlier generations. As Kathleen Christian has shown, native Roman nobles of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries believed that their antiquities collections verified their family romanitas—their ancient Roman heritage, and thus venerable nobility. In the first quarter of the sixteenth century, Marcantonio Altieri and Gabriele de’Rossi created testaments that explicitly required their heirs to keep their collections intact or lose their rights of inheritance.34 The precious relics of their “ancestors” needed to be protected against the rapacious collecting tactics of new “foreign” families, or even popes, attempting to legitimize themselves as part of the Roman social elite. Similarly, Cardinal Federico wanted to protect his precious treasures and his family’s new status from appropriation by later covetous collectors.

Yet by attempting to preserve the design and decoration of the garden, and by extension, its primary functions of impressing and delighting viewers and substantiating noble Cesi origins, Cardinal Federico’s fedecommesso established a new practice. A few months after Cardinal Federico’s will was made, Balduino Del Monte, Pope Julius III’s brother and heir, had portions of his fedecommesso inscribed in stone and displayed in the Villa Giulia’s nymphaeum to record his achievements, to celebrate his brother’s memory, and to preserve the villa and garden for his family.35 The Cesi and Del Monte examples are among the earliest with explicit directions concerning a garden. Gardens make more frequent appearances in Roman fedecommessi during the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries owing to the growing popularity of both the legal instrument and the trend of building increasingly large villa estates in Rome.36 These later examples share requirements in common with Cardinal Federico’s fedecommesso, and all of them have a comparable aim: to safeguard the garden from alienation or dispersion so that the property may celebrate the family name and honor the memory of its original owner.

By securing the garden through strict testamentary laws, the cardinal wanted to ensure that it would forever perpetuate his legacy and the status of the House of Cesi. Of course, land ownership in any form served as a financial asset, and wealth was essential for entrée to the upper classes of Roman society. The garden’s location, however, so close to the most important church in Western Christendom and the seat of papal power, and its contents, statues, and inscriptions demonstrating Cesi wealth and nobility, were the foundations of Cardinal Federico’s aspirations to a noble identity for himself and his family.

As mentioned above, however, a garden comprises elements intrinsically vulnerable to change—particularly within an urban context. In fact, owing to external forces such as financial debt, political turmoil, or the physical health of an heir, the chains of fedecommessi were often broken within just four or fewer generations.37 The frequent result was the dispersal of assets such as land and art collections. One day after Cardinal Federico’s death on 28 January 1565, his nephew and first heir took possession of the estate in the required ceremony on the Capitoline.38 But, as a later family archivist complained, if an inventory of the garden was indeed made it was not preserved.39 During the seventeenth century, growing financial debts and the family’s diminishing importance in the social hierarchy of the Roman elite would force Cesi heirs to break the laws of the fedecommesso, thus setting in motion the decline of the Cesi fortune built up by the cardinal and exemplified in the dispersal and neglect of his beloved garden. At the same time, however, the long survival of the garden through these changes testifies to its economic, topographical, and symbolic importance not only for the Cesi family but also for Rome.

Loss as Gain: The Fate of the Cesi Antiquities

Ironically, while Cardinal Federico tried to preserve his garden and collection as a symbol of identity and nobility, the sale and dispersal of his antiquities did exactly this by providing financial stability for his heirs and securing the future fame of the garden. In the decades following Cardinal Federico’s death, his garden flourished and its fame continued to expand.40 His nephew and heir, Angelo, had built his own palace elsewhere in Rome, but he enjoyed his uncle’s garden for four years; at his premature death in 1569 he left the estate to his eight-year-old son Federico (Figure 10).41 As little Federico (first Duke of Acquasparta, or Federico I) aged over the next fifty years, he would benefit from the cardinal’s fedecommesso both financially and socially, living as a wealthy aristocrat decorated with the noble titles from fiefs that the cardinal had purchased years before.42 Cardinal Federico’s palace and famous garden continued to host a powerful cardinal, Federico I’s younger brother, Cardinal Bartolomeo.43 The garden was also the site of several meetings of the Accademia dei Lincei, a group founded by Duke Federico I’s son, Federico II, for the study of the natural sciences.44

Figure 10

Genealogical table of primary Cesi heirs (author)

Figure 10

Genealogical table of primary Cesi heirs (author)

By the early years of the seventeenth century, however, Duke Federico I’s lavish lifestyle and spendthrift habits, coupled with a failing local economy, had saddled the family with a large debt.45 To prevent financial ruin, the duke participated in several public bond issues administered by the Congregation of Barons that were created to help financially troubled noble families cover the enormous loans they needed to maintain their extravagant standard of living.46 But the duke’s debts grew too large for repayment and resulted in the first major upheaval of the Cesi Garden: the sale of some of its best sculpture to the new and ambitious papal nephew, Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, in 1622.

Like Cardinal Federico Cesi generations before, Cardinal Ludovisi saw the establishment of a villa garden and antiquities collection as a persuasive tool for conveying his identity as an equal of, or even more powerful than, older, more established members of the elite.47 Coming from a Bolognese family who had only recently arrived on the Roman scene, Cardinal Ludovisi was eager to vaunt his status as cardinal nephew to his uncle Pope Gregory XV. Like prelates of earlier generations, he was also keen to acquire the trappings of Roman nobility. Architectural patronage and art collecting were high on his list of priorities—he was building a villa and garden of his own on the Pincian Hill and aggressively amassing ancient sculpture for display on its grounds. From 1622 to 1623 he acquired antiquities collections belonging to the Cesarini, Altemps, Colonna, and Carpi, older noble Roman families who, like the Cesi, were deep in debt and suffering from a loss of the political power they had enjoyed in previous generations.48 As with the collections owned by these families, the Cesi antiquities carried the cachet of nobility and the authority of romanitas. With knowledge of the Cesi debt and the fortuitous death of Cardinal Bartolomeo Cesi in 1621, Ludovisi saw the Cesi antiquities as a prime opportunity to obtain famous statuary for his own villa.

To facilitate the sale of the Cesi works and break the chains of the fedecommesso binding the collection to the Cesi Garden, Cardinal Ludovisi turned to the most potent political tool at his disposal: the power of papal nepotism. On 6 August 1622 Pope Gregory XV issued a decree dissolving some of the strict rules of the Cesi fedecommesso and ensuring against any future attempts by the Cesi to claim ownership of the statues. The papal chirograph declared the conditions of the sale along with the legal decisions made by the Sacra Rota in favor of Ludovisi.49 The Cesi were to “donate” their antiquities to Ludovisi and in return the pension from the late Cardinal Bartolomeo’s ecclesiastical benefices could be applied to family debt. Because the assets of the family had gone to secure burdensome loans, the entire Cesi estate would now be protected from danger of dissolution. Crippled by debt, Duke Federico I had no choice but to comply with the papal decree. While the Cesi were now well-established members of the nobility, they were no match for the power and influence of a cardinal nephew.

Although the fortunes of the Cesi family were in decline and the objects from the Cesi Garden would now belong to a new cardinal whose star was on the rise, the sale may also be interpreted as a strategic success. The loss of ancient statues, though perhaps painful, was indeed a small price to pay for securing the vast majority of Cesi patrimony. The decree of 6 August was accompanied by a list of objects to be delivered to Ludovisi: over one hundred statues, torsos, heads and busts, reliefs, sarcophagi, and vases, along with fifty fragments and several ancient and modern bronze pieces from the “painted grotto [the Antiquario] inside the gardens and also on the façade of the said grotto and outside between the grotto and the gate.”50 By 24 August the sons of Duke Federico I ratified the sale; the objects arrived at Ludovisi’s villa in mid-September.51 But it is critical to note that the sale allowed Duke Federico I to escape forfeiture of his assets while paying his substantial debts. He also retained ownership of more than one hundred other works in the collection, which remained in situ in the garden long after 1622.52 Remarkably, he avoided losing the Roma Triumphans group, the most famous sculpture in the garden and the centerpiece of the garden’s design (see Figure 3, no. 4, and  Appendix, no. 4).

The composition and placement of the Roma Triumphans group, commanding the central axis of the garden parterre, had been carefully chosen to connect the Cesi to the renovatio, or renewal and restoration, of Rome under papal rule. The subject of a triumphant, enthroned Dea Roma appeared in sculpture and coins during antiquity; Roma also appeared as victor over captives or captive provinces in antiquity, but never as a lone group.53 The composition of the Cesi group is thus without direct precedent, but likely draws inspiration from humanist Flavio Biondo’s compendium of ancient Rome, De Roma Triumphante (Rome, 1459). The theme of Rome triumphant over her enemies recalls the rhetoric of the Counter-Reformation during the middle and later cinquecento, the period in which Cardinal Federico was both active in the reform movement and assembling his garden.54 But even more important, the site of the Cesi Garden had been one of the locations where imperial troops had breached the walls of the city during the Sack of Rome in 1527, not long after his elder brother had purchased his palace and garden. These tragic memories no doubt motivated Cardinal Federico to have the group featured in the garden as a symbol of resilience and revival after the devastation of the sack.55

The group’s symbolic importance to the Cesi family and to the garden is clearly demonstrated in an image published by Giacomo Lauro in his Antiquae Urbis Splendor of 1613 (Figure 11).56 Correspondence between Lauro and Duke Federico II indicates that the duke provided suggestions to Lauro as he composed his book, and the Roma Triumphans group appears in the frontispiece of the second volume.57 The image plays on the popular trope that linked the strength and grandeur of the ancient city to that of the modern Christian and papal city.58 The Cesi Garden’s integral place (and thus also the place of the family) in establishing the new Christian Rome is emphasized in a succinct description of the garden in Latin printed at the bottom of the image. The Roma Triumphans group continued to be one of the great attractions of the garden in the seventeenth century, appearing in artists’ sketchbooks, print anthologies and guidebooks describing the sights of Rome.59 Along with several herms, inscriptions, and a number of figural works displayed in the Cenacolo and around the parterre, the Roma Triumphans group would remain in its original location until the early eighteenth century.60

Figure 11

Giacomo Lauro, frontispiece, Antiquae Urbis Splendor, Liber Secondus, 1613 (Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University)

Figure 11

Giacomo Lauro, frontispiece, Antiquae Urbis Splendor, Liber Secondus, 1613 (Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University)

When the RomaTriumphans group was eventually taken from the garden by a powerful pope, its loss paradoxically helped to immortalize the Cesi Garden. In 1719 the Conservators of Rome, on behalf of Pope Clement XI, purchased the group for installation in the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the Capitoline Hill. They justified the purchase as a means of preserving the sculptures, stating that they were falling into ruin due to “injuries of time and very little regard for their care” in their present location.61 Because the group was an eminent and long-celebrated symbol of Rome, the Conservators felt that it belonged in the more appropriate and protective conditions they could provide. But Pope Clement XI harbored a particular interest in acquiring the Roma group. Following the victories of the papal-led Holy League over the Ottoman Turks in 1716, the statues would assist in Clement’s personal program of anti-Turkish propaganda: Roma stands triumphant over enemies from southeastern Europe and Asia Minor.62 Thus by installing the group on the Capitoline, a statement of Clement XI’s power over his enemies, the Church, and the city of Rome was emphatically clear. The pope seems to have considered the Cesi sculptures to be an authoritative statement for some time even before he acquired them: as early as 1704 the Roma Triumphans had been featured as a symbol of Rome’s greatness in a frontispiece of a book dedicated to Clement XI by Paolo Alessandro Maffei.63

In spite of the fact that the Roma Triumphans had now been appropriated to celebrate the superiority of Rome under Clement XI’s reign, the Cesi profited from the transaction and memories of the Cesi Garden remained attached to what was once its most celebrated sculpture group. An official decree issued on 8 March 1719 outlined the rewards that the Cesi would receive in exchange for the sculptures: the two sons of the current Cesi duke, Federico Pierdonato VI, would acquire six civic offices bearing an annual income of 285.10 scudi.64 The construction of a display space for the sculpture in the Palazzo dei Conservatori courtyard began that year under architect Alessandro Specchi. Specchi’s first design closely resembled the original arrangement of the group as it stood in the Cesi Garden, and a similar configuration was retained in the courtyard as built (Figure 12). In 1720 a dedicatory plaque was installed above the display, celebrating the patronage of Clement XI, and referring to the original location of the group:

Figure 12

Roma Triumphans Group, Palazzo dei Conservatori, Musei Capitolini, Rome (author’s photo)

Figure 12

Roma Triumphans Group, Palazzo dei Conservatori, Musei Capitolini, Rome (author’s photo)


[Clement XI Pontifex Maximus, who has transferred the statues of Roma Triumphant over Dacia and the Kings of Captive Numidia from the Cesi Garden, and who having built from the foundations the portico decorated with Egyptian statues, has augmented the majesty of the Capitoline in the year 1720.]

The group’s eighteenth-century display on the Capitoline thus memorialized its original composition and installation in the Hortis Caesis, the garden of the Cesi. The reference to the Cesi Garden lent the prestige of old and venerable Rome to the new installation, but the installation itself, located in the symbolic heart of the civic center of Rome, also venerated the garden. Cardinal Federico Cesi had tried to protect his garden and the noble status of his family through his fedecommesso generations before, but it was the loss of his collection and the dissolution of his garden that ultimately resulted in the preservation of the Cesi name.

Land, Politics, and the Garden’s Role in the Design for the Piazza San Pietro

Just as papal politics and ambition had forced the loss of ancient sculpture from the Cesi Garden, its coveted location near the Vatican also made the land itself a critical target for acquisition by more powerful rivals. When Duke Federico I died in 1630, leaving his son Federico II as heir, the Ospedale di Santo Spirito immediately saw a chance to regain ownership of the vigna that Cardinal Federico had forcibly acquired from them more than seventy-five years earlier.65 When Federico II unexpectedly died weeks later, the Ospedale ministers wasted no time: just one day after his death, they arrived at the property and took possession, expelling the caretaker and confiscating his keys. The succeeding Cesi heir, Duke Giovanni Federico, third Duke of Acquasparta, protested in a series of legal appeals to the Ospedale ministers to no avail. In October 1630, city officials ruled the Ospedale to be sole owner of the contested land; as a consequence, the size of the Cesi Garden was drastically reduced.66 The vigna was now the rightful property of the Ospedale to rent, which they did in the 1630s, and to sell, which they did in 1641 to Taddeo Barberini, nephew of Pope Urban VIII (Figure 13).

Figure 13

Estimate for vigna purchase agreement between the Ospedale di Santo Spirito and Taddeo Barberini (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Arch. Barb., Ind. II, 2958, fol. 29v, © 2013 Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, reproduced by permission of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, all rights reserved)

Figure 13

Estimate for vigna purchase agreement between the Ospedale di Santo Spirito and Taddeo Barberini (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Arch. Barb., Ind. II, 2958, fol. 29v, © 2013 Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, reproduced by permission of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, all rights reserved)

Overpowered once again, the Cesi were in no position to challenge the political authority of a papal nephew who desired the prized assets of the Cesi Garden. Barberini wanted to build his own pleasure garden on the Janiculum, and needed the former Cesi vigna to form a substantial part of his new Villa Barberini ai Bastioni on the Monte Santo Spirito.67 His uncle’s power proved to be a valuable tool in Barberini’s plan for the villa and for land acquisition. Urban VIII had granted him water rights to the nearby Acqua Paola for fountains on the site an entire year before his purchase of the vigna was even finalized.68

The political power of Taddeo Barberini’s son, Cardinal Carlo Barberini, and the declining social influence of the Cesi are underscored by yet another forfeiture of land twenty years later. Despite the fact that Cardinal Barberini had been amply compensated for the disturbance to the Villa Barberini ai Bastioni during the construction of the piazza of St. Peter’s Basilica in the 1660s, he complained that the project impeded the access to his villa and that a new entry needed to be built. With a chirograph dated 19 March 1669, Pope Clement IX acceded, giving Cardinal Barberini land from the Cesi Garden that the Congregazione della Reverenda Fabbrica di San Pietro had purchased for the construction of the Piazza San Pietro.69 The decree was accompanied by plans to excavate and level the street behind the southern arm of the piazza’s colonnade and to build an access ramp to the entrance of the Barberini property (Figure 14). Land that once contained the giardino segreto next to Cardinal Federico’s palace now paved the way to a villa and garden owned by a much wealthier and more powerful cardinal.

Figure 14

Anonymous, plan of the street and borders of Piazza San Pietro, Villa Barberini ai Bastioni, and the Cesi Palace, 1669 (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Arch. Barb., Ind. II, 2970, I–IIr–v, © 2013 Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, reproduced by permission of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, all rights reserved)

Figure 14

Anonymous, plan of the street and borders of Piazza San Pietro, Villa Barberini ai Bastioni, and the Cesi Palace, 1669 (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Arch. Barb., Ind. II, 2970, I–IIr–v, © 2013 Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, reproduced by permission of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, all rights reserved)

Most devastating to the size and layout of the Cesi property, however, was Pope Alexander VII’s ambitious plan to build the new piazza for St. Peter’s Basilica. Preparation for the construction of Gianlorenzo Bernini’s design for the Piazza San Pietro began in 1658, and work on the northern colonnade framing the piazza was under way by 1659.70 On 14 February 1661 Alexander VII issued a decree outlining the need to purchase land from the Cesi to make way for the southern colonnade; this document also further loosened the legal chains of Cardinal Federico’s strict fedecommesso.71 The faint pencil lines of a plan in the Vatican Library indicate which portions of the Cesi property would be demolished: nearly the entire north façade and much of the eastern wing of the palace, along with the adjacent giardino segreto that would later be given to Cardinal Carlo Barberini (Figure 15).72 A late seventeenth-century plan of the piazza from the British Library shows the close proximity of the foundations of the south colonnade to the Cesi property (Figure 16).73 The Fabbrica made payments for the land to Duke Federico IV in March 1661.74 He received 9,634.61 scudi for the demolition and land; the amount of 9,000 scudi was to go toward extinguishing the family debt, and the remainder to salvage what was left of the palace and garden. Still suffering from the weight of the imprudent financial investments and the overspending of previous generations of the family, Federico IV was perhaps relieved to have been compensated for the land and for his inconvenience. But even if the duke had wanted to resist the razing of his inherited property, he was powerless, as were other property owners in the Vatican Borgo, when confronted with such a major papal urbanization project.

Figure 15

Anonymous, plan of the Cesi Palace and Garden prior to demolition in the 1660s (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Chigi P VII 9, 53v–54r, © 2013 Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, reproduced by permission of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, all rights reserved)

Figure 15

Anonymous, plan of the Cesi Palace and Garden prior to demolition in the 1660s (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Chigi P VII 9, 53v–54r, © 2013 Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, reproduced by permission of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, all rights reserved)

Figure 16

Anonymous, plan of the area of Piazza San Pietro to the south and north, late 17th century (© British Library Board, Maps 7.TAB.57, fol. 27)

Figure 16

Anonymous, plan of the area of Piazza San Pietro to the south and north, late 17th century (© British Library Board, Maps 7.TAB.57, fol. 27)

But while the intrusion of Bernini’s colonnade further reduced the size of property, this event also reveals the crucial role that the Cesi Garden played in the design of one of the most important urban planning projects of seicento Rome. As Dorothy Metzger Habel has pointed out, there exists little documentation about Bernini’s consideration of the larger urban context of the piazza during his design process.75 Scholars have deduced his solutions for the obstacles he inherited at the site only through a broad study of sketches and plans. One exception that sheds light on the relationship between the piazza and its surrounding neighborhood is a large plan of the area north of the piazza from the Vatican to the Porta Angelica published by Rudolf Wittkower in 1939.76 Habel posits that plans of a similar nature must have been executed for the urban areas to the east and south of the piazza. Even without such plans, however, archival records and later visual evidence suggest that Bernini must have used the Cesi Garden to help determine the layout of the piazza.

We know that Bernini was keenly aware of the area of the Cesi property and other palaces standing south of the piazza location. At a meeting of the Fabbrica to discuss Bernini’s first design on 19 August 1656, Cardinal Pallotta objected to the project’s great size and expense, specifically mentioning the cost of demolition of surrounding buildings such as the Palazzo Cesi. Objections to the size of the piazza and its imposition on existing structures like the Palazzo Cesi were raised again in a meeting of the Fabbrica to review Bernini’s plans on 17 March 1657.77 Furthermore, Bernini was personally familiar with the design of the Cesi property: on 21 December 1660, two months before the papal chirograph announcing the acquisition of Cesi property, Pope Alexander VII noted in his diary that Bernini had given him a plan he had made of the Cesi Garden.78 Thus we may infer that Bernini carefully considered the topographic and architectonic features of the Cesi Garden while planning the piazza.

In addition to Bernini’s consideration of the Cesi Garden, the clearest proof of the relationship between the garden and the piazza design appears in the plan from the British Library mentioned above, which depicts the piazza within its urban context to the south and north (see Figure 16). Here the architect has indicated a number of sight lines marking various axes through the piazza. The longest and most dramatic of these runs from south to north through the center of the piazza and the two fountains flanking the obelisk, stretching to the far edges of the plan. To the south of the piazza, the line parallels with near precision the retaining wall and the outlines of architectural structures in the Cesi Garden: the Antiquario and Cenacolo framing the eastern edge of the parterre. Although executed after the completion of the colonnades, this plan suggests that the Cesi Garden provided a key visual anchor for the south-north axis of the piazza, as the positions of via Angelica and streets to the north of the piazza were too far out of alignment to have served such a purpose.

That the path and architectural features of the parterre in the Cesi Garden align with the south-north axis of the piazza is further emphasized by depictions of this region in later city plans, including Nolli’s map of 1748 (Figure 17). Although the giardino segreto had been eliminated from the Cesi property when the colonnade was built and the land acquired by Cardinal Carlo Barberini, its old gate now formed the primary entrance to the Cesi Garden from the piazza (see Figure 2).79 A view of the Cesi Garden gate from inside the Piazza San Pietro, framed by the opening of the southern colonnade’s aedicula, must have given the impression of a true axial approach into the piazza from the south. The screen-like effect of Bernini’s colonnade, which allows fleeting views of the urban space beyond the columns, helped to mask the misalignment of the city streets elsewhere around the piazza. The archival, visual, and topographical evidence cited above clearly demonstrate that the Cesi Garden played a critical role in establishing the layout of the piazza.

Figure 17

Giambattista Nolli, Plan of Rome, 1748, detail, area of the Cesi Garden and Piazza San Pietro (after Franz Ehrle, Roma al tempo di Benedetto XIV: La pianta di Roma di Giambattista Nolli del 1748 [Vatican City, 1932])

Figure 17

Giambattista Nolli, Plan of Rome, 1748, detail, area of the Cesi Garden and Piazza San Pietro (after Franz Ehrle, Roma al tempo di Benedetto XIV: La pianta di Roma di Giambattista Nolli del 1748 [Vatican City, 1932])

As the Cesi Garden contributed to the new design of its urban neighborhood, this new space in turn stabilized the garden itself. Over time, the garden had been depleted of treasures and lost some of its land, and the palace had been partially destroyed. However, the property would not experience additional losses of land after the completion of the Piazza San Pietro. Owing to its location and its remaining ancient statuary, the site still functioned as a distinguished monument in the city. But after the building of the Piazza San Pietro, a newly restructured “Palazzo Cesi al Colonnato” and its garden would take on a new role for the Cesi family.80

A New Role for the Cesi Garden

The construction of the Piazza San Pietro forced a transformation of the Cesi Garden: once designed primarily for pleasure and as a public statement of noble identity, it was refashioned as a space for generating financial revenue. By the seventeenth century, the Cesi owned several other residences both inside and outside Rome, and the reduced size and aesthetic appeal of Cardinal Federico’s old-fashioned palace made it inappropriate as a residence for a family attempting to maintain their noble status.81 Instead, motivated by the continuing threat of bankruptcy from defaulted loans, the Cesi dukes resorted to leasing their property to turn a profit, a common practice among Roman nobles. The demolition to make way for the Piazza San Pietro and the clearing of debris from the Cesi site were finished by 1665; that year also saw the garden’s first rental for primarily agricultural purposes.82

To render the Cesi property “habitable and profitable” for leasing to tenants, Duke Federico Cesi IV commissioned architect Giovanni Battista Contini to rebuild the Cesi Palace.83 Contini reconstructed the façade and north wing of the building to follow the curvature of the south colonnade of the Piazza San Pietro and the realignment of the street for an estimated cost of 8,000 scudi. Plans located in the Archivio di Stato illustrate Contini’s design for the palace reconstruction, which he finished by May 1672, when apartments in the building were first leased to tenants (Figures 18 and 19).84 Over the next several decades, the garden was also leased, either in separate portions or as a whole.

Figure 18

Giovanni Battista Contini, ground plan of the Cesi Palace after reconstruction, ca. 1665–72 (Archivio di Stato di Roma, Arch. Mass., 158, reproduced by permission of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali ASR 37/2007)

Figure 18

Giovanni Battista Contini, ground plan of the Cesi Palace after reconstruction, ca. 1665–72 (Archivio di Stato di Roma, Arch. Mass., 158, reproduced by permission of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali ASR 37/2007)

Figure 19

Giovanni Battista Contini, plan of the piano nobile of the Cesi Palace after reconstruction, ca. 1665–72 (Archivio di Stato di Roma, Arch. Mass., 158, reproduced by permission of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali ASR 37/2007)

Figure 19

Giovanni Battista Contini, plan of the piano nobile of the Cesi Palace after reconstruction, ca. 1665–72 (Archivio di Stato di Roma, Arch. Mass., 158, reproduced by permission of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali ASR 37/2007)

Always seeking to maximize financial assets, wealthy Roman property owners commonly leased their underused palaces, villas, and gardens to generate revenue.85 The Villa d’Este on the Quirinal, for example, had been owned by the Carafa family since the fifteenth century, but during the sixteenth century, it was leased to Cardinal Orazio Farnese, Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, and Cardinal Luigi d’Este before it was finally purchased by Pope Sixtus V in 1587.86 Similarly, parcels of land in larger estates were also rented to vineyard keepers and market gardeners for profit. Camilla Peretti, sister of Sixtus V, leased parts of the vigna of the Villa Montalto to three vineyard keepers in 1590.87 In the 1660s, portions of the vast Villa Pamphili estate were leased to sharecroppers who grew grapes, fruit trees, and vegetables.88 To assist with the cost of maintaining the large Villa Ludovisi while he was away from Rome, Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi’s brother and heir, Niccolò, leased parts of the garden annually until 1664, and the villa continued to be rented through the eighteenth century.89 Sections of the Villa Mattei were rented for agricultural production for much of the eighteenth century.90 Portions of grand family estates in the Roman countryside were also leased to agrarian merchants, as in the case of the Villa Mondragone in Frascati owned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese.91

The decision of the Cesi to lease their garden and palace was thus in keeping with contemporary practice, and numerous rental contracts dating from 1665 until the final sale of the property in 1762 show in striking detail how such rentals operated.92 These documents illuminate relationships between tenant and owner, gardener and nobleman, and they shed light on the business of agricultural activity in Rome. Moreover, because a number of the contracts were accompanied by inventories as part of the valuation of the plants and appraisals of the site, we can identify the type and location of plants growing in the garden once its function as a pleasure garden with sculpture was overshadowed by its agricultural production. Because many extant seventeenth- and eighteenth-century garden records relate to the large villa-estates owned by papal families such as those listed above, these Cesi documents are valuable illustrations of gardening within a smaller, and perhaps more typically sized, property in Rome.93

First, the Cesi Garden rental contracts reveal the extent of the tenant’s responsibilities to the Cesi owners. Renters paid annual fees for the use of parcels of land (varying from payments of 90–180 scudi); the use of storage buildings, granary, and stables (ranging from 10 to 35 scudi); and the use of grottoes (12 scudi). In certain years the entire property, including additional buildings and nearby shops owned by the Cesi, was leased to a trusted overseer who would in turn sublease to others.94 Contracts indicate how the plants and trees were to be cared for, specifying in detail the manner in which fruit trees and grapevines were to be pruned, the necessary methods of cultivating vegetables, and the upkeep of material for the armatures of the pergolas of espaliered rosebushes and grape arbors. Paths and walkways were to be cleared of protruding branches and carefully maintained for ease of walking. Any cutting, planting, or trimming of trees and plants had to be approved by the administrators of the Cesi household; costs to replace cut or dead plants were the responsibility of the renter. Rental agreements also made provisions for subleasing the property, although this could be done only with permission. Garden tenants were required not only to follow the bylaws of their contracts but also to absorb the costs of damages to the property during the lease. Even in the event of a natural or man-made disaster—a terrible storm, a severe drought, a war, or an empty papal throne—a renter faced dire financial consequences if he defaulted on his obligation.

Second, the contracts carefully list what would and would not be included in the lease and what remained the rights and privileges of the Cesi owners. For example, a small apartment of ground-floor rooms in the palace might be part of a garden lease, but certain products of the garden, such as the wood or fruit from valuable trees, were reserved solely for the Cesi. In some instances the Cesi could also dictate the plants to be grown in the garden for serving their households. In fact, renters were required to share the profits from the sales of harvested fruits and vegetables with the Cesi owners.95 Provisions in the contracts also frequently state that Cesi family members were permitted to enter and enjoy the contents of the garden at their leisure.96 All the contracts emphatically state that the ancient statuary and fragments remaining from the original antiquities collection could never be taken from the site. An inventory made in preparation for a garden lease in 1715 lists over one hundred ancient statues, inscriptions, and other marble objects still standing in the garden, with many of the larger and heavier works still in their cinquecento display locations.97 Even though renters were required to care for and maintain the marbles, only members of the Cesi family were allowed to move or alter the collection.

That marble fragments and antique statuary would be carefully inventoried and legally protected is no surprise in light of their inherent financial and cultural value. Although the garden had been depleted of some masterworks, the monetary value of the antiquities was estimated at nearly twice what it cost to rebuild the palace after its demolition in the early 1660s.98 Moreover, these remaining works continued to fall under the protection of the Cesi fedecommesso. Even after Pope Clement X dissolved the entire fedecommesso in 1674, enabling the family to sell assets to pay off persistent debts, these works in the garden continued to serve symbolic reminders of Cesi nobility. Indeed, in the late seventeenth century, a family administrator remarked that the statues were still among the most famous things in Rome.99

For their part, the Cesi owners were required to ensure the availability of water sources to renters—a provision with major implications. Although aqueducts supplied the city with an abundance of water during antiquity, these sources became scarce during the Middle Ages. Access to water was a constant source of conflict throughout the early modern period; water rights and the use of water for leisure purposes, such as decorative fountains and lavish gardens, were unmistakable signs of one’s power. Pope Sixtus V, for example, donated rights of access at his newly constructed Acqua Felice to his closest political allies in the late 1580s. As a result, Sixtus’s friend Cardinal Ascanio Colonna received a free and direct line to feed his palace fountains and garden on the Quirinal Hill, while Cardinal Francesco Sforza, an early detractor of the pope, had to pay full price for water from the same source.100 Competition for the enormous water supply needed to power the fountains of villas and gardens extended to the Roman countryside as well. Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini’s control over Frascati’s water supply in the early seventeenth century allowed him to vaunt his wealth by building elaborate fountains for his own villa, and to exercise his power over others by regulating public and private villa access to water.101

The removal of water from the Cesi Garden during the early eighteenth century thus serves as another reminder of the ways in which papal politics affected the Cesi Garden. The small public fountain serving the residents living south of the Vatican outside Porta Cavalleggeri for two centuries had ceased to function, forcing them to procure their water from the well in the courtyard of the barracks of the papal cavalry, just inside the gate.102 In 1713 concern about scandalous behavior resulting from visits to the well by local women prompted Pope Clement XI and the Maestri delle strade to claim possession of water from the nearby Cesi Garden and divert it to feed the old public fountain.103 Although at certain times of the year parts of the parterre naturally collected too much water and were characterized as wet, the Cesi and their garden renters were now unfortunately responsible for seeking other less convenient water sources in dry seasons.104 Water conditions for the garden would not improve until 1723, when Pope Innocent XIII (brother of Giacinta Conti Cesi, the mother of Duke Federico Pierdonato Cesi VI) ordered that four oncie of water be diverted from the south fountain in the Piazza San Pietro to feed the Cesi Garden.105 The Cesi had finally benefited from their social connections, gaining new access to precious water. Without the intervention of the pope, the garden providing rental income to Duke Cesi VI may have ceased to turn a profit altogether.

The Cesi Garden as Economic and Cultural Capital

Although it is very difficult to document the precise income and financial standing of the Cesi family in the later seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, inventories of garden plants in rental contracts and the plan of the garden from the Archivio di Stato enable us to assess its new function for generating financial revenue (see Figures 2 and 3).106 According to the plan of the garden in the Archivio di Stato, the parterre contained “flowers with trellises and citrus plants” among the fountains, herms, and other antiquities remaining from the sculpture collection ( Appendix, no. 2). Indeed, the espaliers appear on the plan in rows through the planting beds in the parterre, accompanied by at least two different types of trees. Garden inventories list fruit trees planted in this area and indicate that espaliered laurel and citrus trees, grape arbors, and a large number of roses trained onto trellises and pergolas enclosed some of the planting beds.107 This planting differs greatly from the sixteenth-century parterre layout of quadri lined with hedges, as is pictured in Van Cleve’s painting (see Figure 6). Like other cinquecento gardens the Cesi Garden likely yielded wine and some produce for the consumption of the owner’s household.108 While grape vines and fruit trees grew around the garden during the sixteenth century, visitors of that period specifically named only planted laurel, mulberry, and pine trees; they did not mention fruit trees, pergolas, trellised flowers, or vegetables in the garden.109

By the seventeenth century the variety of plants and trees in the garden had increased, rendering the majority of the property the domain of agricultural production. Fruit trees grew in the vigna, which was partly used as an orchard, as indicated in the Archivio di Stato plan and in the lists of trees in inventories. According to records, some 240 fruit trees were growing in the Cesi Garden in 1674; by 1730 and 1760, this number had increased to 300–400 fruit trees.110 More numerous, however, were the thousands of grape vines counted in the vigna between the Antiquario and the city walls.111 Also found in the vigna were scattered planting beds for several kinds of herbs and vegetables, including lettuces, celery, cabbage, eggplant, and broccoli.112 But by far the most prevalent vegetable growing in the garden during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the artichoke. Several varieties were planted in beds both in the parterre and in areas of the vigna (see Figure 1, C, and  Appendix, no. 11, 12, 14): between 1729 and 1730, for example, appraisers counted over 3,500 artichoke plants, a number that rose to 7,400 in 1760.113 The large numbers of cultivated vegetables listed in these inventories make clear that the primary function of the Cesi Garden had become agricultural. Early twentieth-century photographs of the site give us a visual sense of how the new primary function had overtaken the display of sculpture (Figure 20).114 Although some seventeenth-century theorists considered citrus trees to be distinguished complements to ancient statuary,it would seem that the ancient sculpture remaining in the garden was a nuisance or an obstacle for renters attempting to produce a profitable harvest of wine grapes and vegetables.115

Figure 20

View of the southeast corner of the parterre of the Cesi Garden, with ruins of the Antiquario and Cenacolo, before ca. 1905 (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut—Rome, Schwanke, Neg. D-DAI-Rom 84.3278)

Figure 20

View of the southeast corner of the parterre of the Cesi Garden, with ruins of the Antiquario and Cenacolo, before ca. 1905 (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut—Rome, Schwanke, Neg. D-DAI-Rom 84.3278)

In addition to illustrating the appearance and planting of the Cesi Garden in the later seventeenth century, the plan in the Archivio di Stato also alludes to the Cesi family’s attitude toward the garden in this period (see Figure 2). Leased to market gardeners for generating income, the garden was now viewed as economic capital. The plan underscores (both visually and in its written legend) the architectural structures and fountains, antiquities, marble furniture, and the boundaries of the site. These points of emphasis mark the most financially valuable elements of the garden—its precious statuary, water sources, reusable cut and polished marble, and property lines—suggesting that the plan was made to accompany an appraisal of the property in preparation for its sale.

Although the plan is undated, internal information presents a clear idea of its date and its purpose. The legend at the top left states that it shows the “plan of the ground level of the palace presently remaining after the disturbance made by the building of the colonnade rebuilt and restored anew by the Most Illustrious and Most Excellent Signore Vth Duke of Acquasparta” ( Appendix, no. 1). In 1674 Federico Angelo Pierdonato Cesi, fifth Duke of Acquasparta, obtained permission from Pope Clement X to sell the properties bound by the Cesi fedecommesso as a means of generating income to extinguish continuing family debt.116 Included in this papal chirograph was the “Palace at the Colonnades of San Pietro with the adjacent garden that extends to the walls of Rome, and the statues existing in it left by Cardinal Federico Cesi.”117 In 1681 Duke Cesi V actively began to arrange the sale of this property. In March of that year he sold the granary, shops, small houses, and stables he owned just west of the palace, and on 9 October 1681, he wrote to a representative of the Barberini family to discuss the possibility of their purchasing his palace and garden for 10,500 scudi.118 Apparently the Barberini, whose own villa on the Janiculum abutted the Cesi Garden, had approached him about such a purchase before. During the 1670s and 1680s, Cardinal Carlo Barberini may have been especially keen to buy his neighbor’s land, as he was expanding his villa and building fountains and a new casino on the site. Indeed, the relationships between the Barberini and Cesi properties are carefully demarcated on the Archivio di Stato plan, with emphasis placed on the property line between an access stairway with descending water-chain fountains and an alley fronted by columns on the Barberini side.119 Furthermore, an inscription written vertically in the Cesi vigna alley at the center of the plan reads, “The site of the grove and garden inside of it that is for sale to the Signori Barberini, and for this the plan drawn by the architect Contini has been sent to Your Excellency.”120 Addressing Duke Cesi V, the inscription suggests that Cesi had asked his architect, Giovanni Battista Contini, to appraise the garden and illustrate it in preparation for its sale.

Giovanni Battista Contini (1642–1723) worked for both the Cesi and Barberini families. He rebuilt the Cesi palace after its partial demolition in the 1660s, served as a surveyor in assessing the value of Cesi property buildings for rent, and was also the architect responsible for rerouting water from the Cesi property to another palace they owned in 1687—the Palazzo Grande on the Borgo Vecchio, also known as the Palazzo Armellini.121 Contini, as had his father, Francesco, also worked as the main architect for the Barberini: he oversaw the new building projects for Cardinal Carlo Barberini’s villa on the Janiculum during the 1670s and 1680s, as well as several other Barberini properties in and outside Rome.122 That the families shared the same architect surely made the possibility of acquisition an attractive and easy one for Cardinal Barberini.

A plan from the Barberini Archives in the Vatican Library further supports the purpose of the Archivio di Stato plan of the Cesi property in facilitating the sale of the garden to the Barberini (Figure 21).123 Although less detailed than the Archivio di Stato plan, the Vatican plan emphasizes the relationships between the two properties with similarly marked boundaries, lines of retaining walls on the Cesi garden hillside, and the locations of key walking paths that might easily be extended from one property to another. While the chirograph of 1674, mentioned above, provides a terminus post quem for the date of this plan, documentation suggests that the Archivio di Stato plan of the Cesi Garden likely dates to the more vigorous discussions of the property’s sale in 1681.124 However, the sale of the garden to Cardinal Barberini was never completed. Instead, the property remained in the possession of the Cesi, where it continued to generate rental income until its final sale in 1762.125

Figure 21

Anonymous, plan of the Cesi Garden, ca. 1681 (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Arch. Barb., Ind. II, 2974B, © 2013 Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, reproduced by permission of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, all rights reserved)

Figure 21

Anonymous, plan of the Cesi Garden, ca. 1681 (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Arch. Barb., Ind. II, 2974B, © 2013 Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, reproduced by permission of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, all rights reserved)

In addition to emphasizing the garden as economic capital, the Archivio di Stato plan suggests that the Cesi heirs also prized the site for its cultural and symbolic value. As the most detailed description of the garden known, the plan demonstrates that the heart of Cardinal Federico’s cinquecento garden was remarkably well preserved long into its existence (see Figures 2 and 3). In the plan we see the close relationship of the garden parterre to the palace, revealing how the parterre served as an extension of palace living spaces, providing areas for admiring works of art, for strolling, and for entertaining. The pathways and alleys joining the points of entry to the property, the hillside vigna, and the fountains and quadri around the parterre shows how the design of the space focused the viewer’s attention on decorative features and directed movement through the garden. Perhaps most important, the plan articulates the display spaces for Cardinal Federico’s antiquities collection in great detail. It presents the plan of the Antiquario (see Figure 3, no. 7) and other garden rooms, as well as niches and places for pedestals throughout the garden and palace courtyard. In addition to niches for sculpture in the Cenacolo and along the wall east of the palace, there appear three niches forming a grotto near the Antiquario, as well as the structure that framed the Roma Triumphans group (see Figure 3, nos. 9, 8, 5, 4). Indeed, it is striking that Aldrovandi’s sixteenth-century description of the sculpture display in this part of the garden, arguably the most thorough description made in that period, matches the layout depicted here very closely.126 Although there had been tremendous changes in its size and shape that altered how the garden was utilized, the core of the garden’s design had remained relatively intact since its construction in the 1550s.

While the plan visually illustrates the elements remaining from the sixteenth-century garden, its legend also expresses pride in their preservation, despite the ravages of time and losses of statues and land. The legend calls attention to Cesi family coats of arms placed throughout the property, along with marble tablets still embedded in garden walls—presumably some with inscriptions continuing to attest to “ancient” family ancestry ( Appendix, nos. 2 and 3). In addition to highlighting the location of the Roma Triumphans group, the legend lists numerous remaining ancient statues and reminds us that the famous Antiquario at one time held even greater treasure ( Appendix, nos. 2, 4, 7, and 3). Further, several entries in the legend describe the once sumptuous decoration of garden rooms with painted stucco and marble intarsia, along with decorative gates and benches throughout the site ( Appendix, nos. 2, 3, 7, 8, 12). This garden, the legend seems to say, was once a site of great beauty and import, and now stands “rebuilt and restored” by a new Federico Cesi, Federico Angelo Pierdonato Cesi, fifth Duke of Acquasparta ( Appendix, no. 1). Later generations of the family viewed the property as an economic asset to be sure, but the design of the garden and its display of antiquities—and even the memory of the display—as a visible statement of Cesi family nobility had survived, despite political challenges and financial adversity. Cardinal Federico’s strategy to establish a noble identity for his descendants had been realized: during the eighteenth century, the Cesi were ranked alongside the most ancient and noble families in the city.127

The Long View of the Cesi Garden

Examining the Cesi Garden over time allows us to better understand how urban gardens served as strategic tools for families in early modern Rome attempting to build and legitimize a noble and Roman identity. In the sixteenth century, Cardinal Federico Cesi labored to construct his garden and to secure the integrity of its design and decoration as a lasting monument to his family’s noble status. By preserving his garden and collection with a fedecommesso, he was both following an established tradition of previous generations of nobles, as well as setting an example for later aristocratic villa and garden owners. Indeed, later garden patrons such as Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi followed his example to the letter. Ludovisi appropriated antiquities from older families like the Cesi for his own villa—a site that would assert his claims to romanitas and elite status.

The Cesi Garden’s history also demonstrates the manner in which early modern Rome’s shifting social and political terrains were mapped onto specific urban sites, such as the land comprising the Cesi Garden. Throughout this period, older noble families burdened with enormous debts forfeited to new and more influential rivals the very assets that constituted their claims to wealth and status. Papal nephews such as Cardinal Ludovisi and Taddeo Barberini were the greatest beneficiaries of the declining social and financial station of the Cesi family in the seventeenth century, as they appropriated Cesi antiquities and land for their own villas. Subsequent losses of land and water access to powerful cardinals and popes, and then the recouping of water access in the garden, further demonstrate how politics and papal connections could control the physical as well as social landscapes of the city.

The garden’s long survival in the hands of the family also reveals the persistent and adaptive nature of the Cesi, as they struggled to maintain their noble status in spite of financial and social trials. Following the losses caused by the building of the Piazza San Pietro, the Cesi family transformed the garden into a site that generated financial income. Rental contracts and plant inventories of the garden illustrate how functionally flexible gardens were in Rome—properties formerly valued more for their displays of ancient sculpture or the ways in which they delighted and impressed viewers were often used in new and different ways over their long histories. Like the Cesi Garden, portions of other villa gardens in Rome were frequently rented and used by market gardeners and sharecroppers. Indeed, the Cesi Garden rental contracts and inventories demonstrate the lengths to which Roman nobles went to wring any possible revenue from their properties.

But the garden was not valued by the heirs of Cardinal Federico solely for its agricultural productivity: the Archivio di Stato plan of the garden shows that the preservation of remaining antiquities and the core of the garden’s design were points of pride for the family and remained central to their noble identity. That the Roma Triumphans stood for decades among rows of artichokes and espaliered citrus trees in the garden parterre points to the garden’s enduring role as a historical symbol of romanitas in the midst of its new economic function.

The location of the Cesi Garden, neighboring St. Peter’s— one of the most politically and spiritually potent sites in the city—also accounts for why the family prized their garden property for so long. By maintaining ownership of a palace and garden of such renown, the Cesi could continue to project a noble identity from a position of prime real estate in a well-traveled neighborhood. Perhaps this is why, after the garden itself played such a critical role in the shaping of the Piazza San Pietro, the Cesi did not hesitate to salvage and rebuild their old palace and garden. Thus for generations after the sixteenth century, the Cesi Garden continued to be viewed as a source of cultural capital for the family.

This study has argued, therefore, that the post-Renaissance “afterlife” of the garden, as well as its cinquecento legacy, contributed to its vital significance for both the Cesi family and the city of Rome. So highly prized were the Cesi Garden and its resources that institutions and individuals exploited the first opportunity to acquire them. The garden’s antiquities were so coveted that cardinals and popes vied for them. And its most famous sculpture group became nothing less than an iconic symbol of the city. The Roma Triumphans, once the focal point of the design of the Hortis Caesis and a declaration of Cesi family romanitas and nobility, stands today in the Palazzo dei Conservatori as a reminder of the history of the Cesi Garden, and the grandeur of Rome itself.

Appendix: Transcription of the Legend of the ASR Plan of the Cesi Garden

(Archivio di Stato di Roma, Archivio Massimo dell’Aracoeli, Eredità Cesi 158, no. 70)


  1. Pianta dell’Piano Terreno dell’Palazzo presente restato del’gietito fatto per la fabrica dell’Colonato è fabricato et Restaurato di nuovo Del’Illustrissimo et Eccellentissimo Signore Duca d’Acquasparta Duca V

  2. Giardino de fiori con spagliere et piante de Agrumi con fontane e statue con numerosi Termini di marmo Antichi et leoni efigij con suoi piedestali sotto con intaglij di Arme et altri sassi diversi et pietre di marmo murato atorno

  3. Un Arco Tondo che fa’ un nicione nell’muro della Città con scaleta che salle di sopra detto qualle è sitto d’Sua Eccellenza dove vi una Belissima Tavola di marmo grande con suoi piedi sotto simili di marmo con intaglio da diversi Arme è di Casa Cesi

  4. Sitto dove è quatro pilastri con il Tetto sopra qualle Copra la statua di Roma Trionfante assieme con li doi Ré Schiavi sculpiti nell selcio

  5. Muro dietro detto dove vi sonno Tre nicioni qual Tiene la terra dell monte et anco vi è il muro Tondo che gira atorno dove vi è il Passo che và alle grote che vi affitano

  6. Vascha grande qual’si rempia con un Condoto di Acqua e serve per inacquare il Detto giardino de fiori et per li Agrumi

  7. Sitto statuario chiamato fatto Belissimo con volta sopra adornata con stuchi e pitura et con pietre mischie come al presente si vede dove Antichamente vi errano tutte le statue di Casa Cesi

  8. Sitto dove vi è una prospetiva di muro adornata con stuchi et vi è una statua di un Console con Bassi relevei nel’Piedestalo et altri con idolli sopra la Cornice di granito Orientalo

  9. Sitto e locco dove vi è un pozzo con Acqua con parapeto di marmo con suo arco di ferro sopra detto

  10. Li duoi luochi requadrati con muro atorno dove vi sonno li seditori di Travertino

  11. Giardino con stradoni e vialli chiamato il Bosco con una prospetiva di muro in faccia al’viale per linea retta dell’Palazzo

  12. Sitto accanto detto verso il Colonato dove si sementa et vi è un Casarino caduto che vi erè una porticela che si pasava

  13. Strada fatta dell’Eminentissimo Barberini per passare e salire all’suo palazzo e giardino

  14. Sitto e piano dove vi si sementa e altra sopra la cima delli muri della citta

  15. Li muri Colorito di Rosicio sono li muri della Citta e girano atorno à detto Giardino

  16. Li Muri Coloriti di giallo e acquarella di detto giardino sono li muri comuni Tra il Sigore Duca d’Acquasparta et L’Eminentissimo Cardinale Barberino et la frata di detto Giardino

  17. Duoi Collone che sono à Capo il viale dell’giardino de Barberino et una fontana simile



I am indebted to many colleagues whose ideas and criticism stimulated and inspired my work on this article. I thank in particular the editors and anonymous reviewers of the JSAH for their insightful comments and suggestions, and Brian Curran, Vittoria Di Palma, Stephanie Leone, and Katherine Rinne for their encouragement and advice. I am especially grateful to Tracy Ehrlich for her astute and incisive editorial observations, considerable knowledge, and indefatigable support throughout this project.

For a biography of Cardinal Federico Cesi, see Agostino Borromeo, “Federico Cesi,” in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (hereafter DBI) (Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1980), 24:253–56; and Edoardo Martinori, Genealogia e cronistoria di una grande famiglia Umbro-Romana, i Cesi, ed. Giuseppe Gabrieli (Rome: Tipografia Compagnia Nazionale Pubblicità, 1931), 56–61.


The chief sources for the history of the Cesi Garden are Domenico Gnoli, “Il Giardino e l’Antiquario del Cardinal Cesi,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Römische Abteilung 20 (1905), 267–76; Rodolfo Lanciani, Storia degli scavi di Roma e notizia intorno le collezione romane di antichità (Rome: Loescher, 1912), 4:107–17; Christian Hülsen, Römische Antikengärten des XVI. Jahrhunderts: Abhandlungen der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1917), 1–42; Piero Tomei, “Guido Guidetti,” Rivista del R. Istituto d’Archeologia e Storia dell’Arte 8 (1940), 62–83; Piero Tomei, “Il palazzo del Cardinale Alessandrino,” in L’architettura a Roma nel Quattrocento (Rome: Fratelli Palombi, 1942), 199–202; Claudio Franzoni, “ ‘Rimembranze d’infinite cose’: Le collezioni rinascimentali di antichità,” in Memoria dell’antico nell’arte italiana, ed. Salvatore Settis (Turin: Einaudi, 1986), 301–60; Sabine Eiche, “On the Layout of the Cesi Palace and Gardens in the Vatican Borgo,” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 39 (1995), 258–81; and Katherine M. Bentz, “Cardinal Cesi and His Garden: Antiquities, Landscape, and Social Identity in Early Modern Rome” (PhD diss., The Pennsylvania State University, 2003).


Among the best models of iconographical interpretations of Roman sculpture gardens are David Coffin, The Villa d’Este at Tivoli (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960); and Elisabeth Blair MacDougall, “A Circus, a Wildman, and a Dragon: Family History and the Villa Mattei,” JSAH 42 (1983), 121–30.


The Cesi Garden has always been cited as an example of the trend of “Renaissance antiquities gardens” in Rome in works such as Hülsen’s Römische Antikengärten. More recent examples include Isa Belli Barsali, “I giardini di statue antiche nella Roma del’500,” in Gli Horti Farnesiani sul Palatino (Rome: École Française de Rome, Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma, 1990), 341–72, esp. 352–57; David Coffin, “Statuary Gardens,” in Gardens and Gardening in Papal Rome (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), esp. 22–24; Henning Wrede, “Römische Antikenprogramme des 16. Jahrhunderts,” in Il cortile delle statue: Der Statuenhof des Belvedere im Vatican, ed. Matthias Winner, Bernard Andreae, and Carlo Pietrangeli (Mainz am Rhein: Philipp von Zabern, 1998), 83–115, esp. 87–91; and Fiorenza Rausa, “La collezione del cardinal Paolo Emilio Cesi (1481–1537),” in Collezioni di antichità a Roma fra ’400 e ’500, ed. Anna Cavallaro (Rome: De Luca, 2007), 205–17.


Archivio di Stato di Roma (hereafter ASR), Archivio Massimo dell’Aracoeli, Eredità Cesi (hereafter Arch. Mass.), 158, no. 70. The plan was first mentioned in Caterina Volpi, Pirro Ligorio e i giardini a Roma nella seconda metà del Cinquecento (Città di Castello: Lithos, 1996), 20–21. Volpi did not reproduce an image of the plan and evidently viewed it just as the Cesi documents were acquired by the Archivio di Stato in 1995, as she identifies it with an older collocation (“Archivio Colonna di Ururi, vol. 94, tomo 83”). She dated the plan to ca. 1740, perhaps assuming that it was made with later inventories of the palace found in ASR, Arch. Mass., 162. The plan was first reproduced by Rausa, “La collezione del cardinal Paolo Emilio Cesi,” 205–17, figs. 1a–b. Carla Benocci has dated the plan to 1669, based on its inscriptions mentioning Cardinal Carlo Barberini, owner of the neighboring villa and recipient of some Cesi property at that time (see below, note 69): Benocci, “Gli effetti del colonnato di S. Pietro sul palazzo e giardino Cesi in Borgo: i disegni seicenteschi di Giovanni Battista Contini,” Il Tesoro delle città: Strenna dell’Associazione Storia della Città 6 (2008/2010), 56–70. Until this point, however, no scholar has analyzed or discussed the plan in great interpretive depth.


Examples include Mirka Beneš, “Landowning and the Villa in the Social Geography of the Roman Territory,” in Form, Modernism, and History: Essays in Honor of Eduard F. Sekler, ed. Alexander von Hoffman (Cambridge: Harvard University Graduate School of Design, 1996), 187–209; Beneš, “The Social Significance of Transforming the Landscape at the Villa Borghese, 1606–1630: Territory, Trees, and Agriculture in the Design of the First Roman Baroque Park,” in Gardens in the Time of the Great Muslim Empires: Theory and Design, ed. Attilio Petruccioli (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 1–31; Beneš, “Pastoralism in the Roman Baroque Villa and in Claude Lorrain,” in Villas and Gardens in Early Modern Italy and France, ed. M. Beneš and Dianne Harris (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 88–113; Tracy Ehrlich, Landscape and Identity in Early Modern Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); and Dianne Harris, The Nature of Authority: Villa Culture, Landscape, and Representation in Eighteenth-Century Lombardy (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003). See especially the recent essays published in Clio in the Italian Garden: Twenty-first-Century Studies in Historical Methods and Theoretical Perspectives, ed. M. Beneš and Michael G. Lee (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2011). John Dixon Hunt has called for a reexamination of gardens over time steered by reception theory, phenomenology, and hermeneutics. His ideas have inspired my approach, as demonstrated in the title of this article. Ultimately, however, I do not adhere closely to true reception theory. See John Dixon Hunt, The Afterlife of Gardens (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). Also see Robin Veder, “Walking through Dumbarton Oaks: Early Twentieth-Century Bourgeois Bodily Techniques and Kinesthetic Experience in Landscape,” JSAH 72.1 (Mar. 2013), 5–27.


Scholarship that builds upon Patricia Waddy’s work on seventeenth-century Roman palaces and Wolfgang Rheinhard’s examination of the strategies of papal families includes Stephanie Leone, The Palazzo Pamphilj in Piazza Navona: Constructing Identity in Early Modern Rome (London: Harvey Miller–Brepols, 2008), and Heather Hyde Minor, “Amore regolato: Papal Nephews and Their Palaces in Eighteenth-Century Rome,” JSAH 65 (2006), 66–91. Examinations of viewer reception and the broader social and cultural meanings of antiquities collecting include William Stenhouse, “Visitors, Display and Reception in the Antiquity Collections of Late-Renaissance Rome,” Renaissance Quarterly 58 (2005), 397–434; Barbara Furlotti, “Connecting People, Connecting Places: Antiquarians as Mediators in Sixteenth-Century Rome,” Urban History 37 (2010), 386–98; and Kathleen Wren Christian, Empire without End: Antiquities Collections in Renaissance Rome, c. 1350–1527 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).


Cardinal Federico’s architectural patronage included several religious structures in Rome: the completion of the Cesi Chapel S.M. della Pace, which housed his parents’ tombs (1540s–1550s); restorations to S.M. in Portico (1550s); the Cesi Chapel in S.M. Maggiore for his brother’s and his own tomb (completed ca. 1564); and S. Caterina dei Funari (1560–64). He also commissioned palaces and villas in fiefs he purchased outside Rome, such as Aquasparta, Cantalupo, and Monticelli. For further details see Martinori, Genealogia e cronistoria, 56–61, 101–5; Bentz, “Cardinal Cesi and His Garden,” 54–63.


Paolo Emilio Cesi (1481–1537) became cardinal in 1517. For his biography, see Alfonso Chacón, Vitae et res Gestae Summorum Pontificum Romanorum: Et S.R.E. Cardinalium ab Initio Nascentis Ecclesiae usque ad Clementem IX … (Rome: Philippi et Ant. De Rubeis, 1677), 3:395–96, 401–2; Martinori, Genealogia e cronistoria, 47–52; and Franca Petrucci, “Paolo Emilio Cesi,” in DBI, 24:259–61.


Paolo Emilio purchased the place from the Capitolo di San Pietro (Chapter of Saint Peter’s) for 6,000 gold ducats. It was built in the 1490s by Cardinal Giovanni Antonio Sangiorgio (1449–1509), also called Cardinal Alessandrino after one of his bishoprics in northern Italy. One month after Cardinal Alessandrino’s death, Pope Julius II purchased the property on behalf of the Capitolo di San Pietro and the Cappella Giulia; the 1509 document of sale described the property as containing stables, a palace with a courtyard, a giardino segreto, and a garden and vineyard behind the palace: Archivio Segreto Vaticano (hereafter ASV), Diverse Camera Apostolica, 62, 190v–191v. It was assumed that Paolo Emilio Cesi purchased the property when he became cardinal in 1517, but a sixteenth-century document securely dates his purchase to 1521 (ASR, Arch. Mass., App. II 160). At the time of his purchase, this palace was described as in need of repair, suggesting perhaps that Paolo Emilio could not afford a property of higher quality. He was not as wealthy as many of his fellow cardinals: in 1523 his annual income was 4,000 gold ducats, while the average was closer to 10,000. See Pio Pecchiai, Roma nel Cinquecento (Bologna: Licino Capelli, 1948), 21. For the history of the palace and garden, see Bentz, “Cardinal Cesi and His Garden,” 91–109.


Maarten van Heemskerck, Garden of the Palazzo Cesi in the Borgo, ca. 1532–36, from the Roman Sketchbook I, pen and brown ink, 13.4 x 20.8 centimeters, Inv. 79 D 2, fol. 25r, Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen, Berlin. Van Heemskerck depicts the southwestern corner of the palace garden, enclosed by the ninth-century Leonine city walls bordering the property (see also Figure 3, no. 3). For drawings of other objects from the Cesi Garden attributed to Van Heemskerck and followers, see Christian Hülsen and Hermann Egger, Die römischen Skizzenbücher von Maarten van Heemskerck (Berlin: Bard, 1913), I:54v; II:62r and 62v.


Early sixteenth-century examples of gardens arranged with similar visual, typological, or iconographic configurations include, among others, the papal Villa Belevedere and Statue Court; and the gardens owned by Cardinal Domenico Grimani on the Quirinal and at the Palazzo San Marco; Cardinal Giuliano de’ Medici at the Villa Madama; and Cardinal Giuliano Cesarini near the Torre Argentina. For succinct descriptions of such sites and further bibliography, see Christian, Empire without End, 322–26, 340–44, and 295–99, and esp. 152–213. For details concerning the Cesi antiquities depicted by Van Heemskerck, see Bentz, “Cardinal Cesi and His Garden,” 68–69, 135–41, and 324–30.


The size of the vigna was described as “di quantità di pezzi dieci in circa,” or about 6.523 acres, when Taddeo Barberini purchased roughly the same tract of land in 1641: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (hereafter BAV), Archivio Barberini (hereafter Arch. Barb.), Ind. II, 2958, fol. 7r, 32v, 36v. A page illustrating the survey from this document appears in Figure 13. Unfortunately, no extant sixteenth- or seventeenth-century document indicates the precise measurement of the palace garden when it was acquired by Paolo Emilo Cesi in 1521. An analysis of the garden plan in the Archivio di Stato (ASR, Arch. Mass., 158, n. 70) suggests that it measured roughly 326,750 square palmi: 16,010.75 square meters or 3.956 acres. The land Cardinal Federico acquired from the Ospedale di Santo Spirito was originally tied up with an emphyteusis, or perpetual rental contract, for three generations of the Cinami family: ASR, Archivio Ospedale di Santo Spirito (hereafter Arch. Osped. S. Spirito), 239, 10v–12v.


ASR, Arch. Osped. S. Spirito, 239, 169r–173v, and ASR, Arch. Mass., 271, 63r. A bull published by Sixtus IV in 1480 legalized forced sales of property to encourage new building in sparsely populated areas of the city: Francisco Gaude et al., eds., Bullarum diplomatum et privilegiorum sanctorum romanorum pontificum (Turin: Sebastiano Franco & Henrico Delmazzo, 1860), 5:273–78. Bulls of Leo X dated 1516 and 1518 confirmed this earlier law and extended the definition of property to gardens and vineyards inside and outside the city walls: ibid., 655–58.


See also renderings of the Monte Santo Spirito in maps of Rome by Mario Cartaro (1576) and Antonio Tempesta (1593).


The attribution to Guidetti (ca. 1495–1564) was made by Piero Tomei, who saw the remains of the buildings before their final destruction around 1940. He dated them to ca. 1545–50 (Tomei, “Guido Guidetti,” 62–83). Guidetti was, however, likely working in the garden through the 1550s: he received payments for work on the fortifications surrounding the Borgo and the walls in the neighborhood of the Cesi Garden as late as 1557 (ASR, Commissariato delle Soldatesche e Galere, Mura e Fortificazione di Roma, 16, fol. 67v). Guidetti trained in the sangalleschi circle of architects in Florence and Rome and worked on a number of Roman sites, including S.M. dell’Orto (1555–60); the Cloister of S.M. Sopra Minerva (1559–64); at the Capitoline Hill under Michelangelo (1563); and at St. Peter’s under Pirro Ligorio (1564). Cardinal Cesi was his main patron, and commissioned from him palaces in the fiefs of Cantalupo and Acquasparta (1562); the church of S. Caterina dei Funari (ca. 1559–64); and the Cesi Chapel in S.M. Maggiore (completed 1564). For an overview of Guidetti’s career and further bibliography, see Ilaria Toesca, “Notizie su Guidetto Guidetti,” Paragone 25 (1974), 100–9; and Michela Antonucci and Gonzalo Redín-Michaus, “Guidetto Guidetti e un progetto per Giordano Orsini a Collevecchio: Note su un documento inedito per l’architettura del secondo ’500 in Sabina,” Rivista storica del Lazio 10 (2002), 17–27, 196–98.


This tower appears in Van Heemskerck’s drawing of the 1530s. After Guidetti’s alterations, the tower (called the “loggietta coperta” in sixteenth-century descriptions) contained several antique works and a large marble table designed by Aristotile da Sangallo. See Eiche, “On the Layout,” 268–69, fig. 12, for a discussion and project drawing for the table.


A guidebook description of the garden written in 1550 by Ulisse Aldrovandi describes in detail the interior of the Antiquario: Ulisse Aldrovandi, Di tutte le statue antiche, in Lucio Mauro, Le antichità della citta di Roma, 1st ed. (Venice: Giordano Ziletti, 1556), 127–31. It was decorated with painted stucco and colored marble intarsia and articulated with niches for sculpture display. Two of the pedestals included inventive turning mechanisms that enabled the viewer to see the sculpture from all sides. The identities of the artists responsible for the interior decoration are unknown. Vasari credited the sculptor Lorenzotto with restorations of antiquities for several collectors, including Cardinal Cesi; he also credited Girolamo Siciolante and Battista Franco with having painted coats of arms on the façade of the Cesi Palace. See Giorgio Vasari, Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori scultori ed architettori scritte da Giorgio Vasari pittore aretino, ed. Gaetano Milanesi (Florence: Sansoni, 1878–85), 4:579–80 and 6:584. For the architectural design and plans of the Antiquario, see Tomei, “Guido Guidetti,” 73–78. Eiche, “On the Layout,” 270–72, figs. 13–15, also reproduces early photographs of the exterior and interior of the Antiquario, albeit in a severe state of deterioration.


For an overview of garden design in Renaissance Rome, see Isa Belli Barsali, Le Villa di Roma: Lazio, I (Milan: Sisar, 1970); Coffin, Gardens and Gardening; and Claudia Lazzaro, The Italian Renaissance Garden: From the Conventions of Planting, Design, and Ornament, to the Grand Gardens of Sixteenth-Century Italy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990).


Eiche attributed this drawing to Giovannantonio Dosio and dated it ca. 1561–65; Eiche, “On the Layout,” 275, and 278, fig. 21. The gate’s inscription (“the garden of the Cesi and their friends”) is part of the trope of the lex hortorum (law of gardens), which extended an “open invitation” to visitors. It was meant to advertise the generosity of the garden owner in opening his property to outsiders, but there is evidence that access to gardens was not always freely obtained. See David Coffin, “ ‘The Lex Hortorum’ and Access to Public Gardens of Latium During the Renaissance,” Journal of Garden History 2 (1982), 201–32; and Stenhouse, “Visitors, Display and Reception,” esp. 403–11.


Contemporary examples with similar displays include the Vigna Carpi and Villa d’Este on the Quirinal Hill, as well as earlier gardens such as the Vatican Belvedere Sculpture Court, the Villa Madama, and the hanging garden in the Palazzo Delle Valle.


Flemish painter Hendrick van Cleve III (ca. 1524/25–ca. 1590) executed this painting for an unknown patron in Antwerp. He traveled to Rome in the early 1550s and presumably viewed the Cesi Garden at that time. He also painted a handful of works featuring views of the Belvedere Garden and the city of Rome, along with drawings of Roman monuments intended for engravings published by Philip Galle. See Karl van Mander, The Lives of the Illustrious Netherlandish and German Painters, ed. Hessel Miedema (Doornspijk: Davaco, 1994), 3:213–17. For the painting, see Marion Van der Meulen, “Cardinal Cesi’s Antique Sculpture Garden: Notes on a Painting by Hendrick van Cleef III,” Burlington Magazine 116 (1974), 12–24; and Bentz, “Cardinal Cesi and His Garden,” 257–74.


Today the statues stand in the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori as part of the Musei Capitolini in Rome. See Wolfgang Helbig, Führer durch die öffentlichen Sammlungen klassischer Altertümer in Rom (Tubingen: Ernst Wasmuth, 1963–72), vol. 2, no. 1440.


Artist and antiquarian Pirro Ligorio recorded that the Roma (which he called Pallas) was found in the ancient tomb of the Gnei Fulvii on the Via Appia and had been acquired by Cardinal Federico Cesi, who had it restored with spolia; Federico Rausa, Pirro Ligorio: Tombe e mausolei dei romani (Rome: Quasar, 1997), 59. Flemish artist Frans Floris sketched the Roma in a notebook dating from ca. 1540–47, noting that it had recently been discovered. See Antonio Giuliano, “Germania Capta,” Xenia 16 (1988), 101–14.


The lowest lines in the inscription: “Hae statuae, in antiquissimo marmore, erudita manu sculptae; maiestate, vetusatisque veratione conspicuae, ac celebres; Romae, in hortis Faederici Cardinalis Caesij / omnis generis signorum plenis; una, ampliore loco, honoris causa, collocatae.” For discussions of Lafréry’s prints in his Speculum Romane Magnificentiae, see Peter Parshall, “Antonio Lafreri’s Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae,” Print Quarterly 23 (Mar. 2006), 3–28; and Rebecca Zorach, ed., The Virtual Tourist in Renaissance Rome: Printing and Collecting the “Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae” (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008).


Images of the Roma Triumphans group, as well as other works from the Cesi garden, were published in several print anthologies depicting the famous sculptures of ancient Rome. See, for example, Giovanni Battista Cavalieri, Antiquarum Statuarum Urbis Romae Liber Primus (Rome, 1555–61), n.p.


Examples include Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, vol. 6, 13930, 13933, 13982, 13992, 14005, 13973, and 14019. A later publication commissioned by Cardinal Federico’s younger cousin, Cardinal Pierdonato Cesi, uses such inscriptions literally in tracing the ancestry of the Cesi to antiquity: Giovanni Battista Fonteius, De prisca Caesiorum gente (Bologna: Giovanni Rossi, 1582–83). For the sketch illustrated in Figure 9, see Maria Elisa Micheli, “Giovanni Colonna da Tivoli, 1554, Il Codice Vaticano Latino 7721,” Xenia Quaderni 2 (1982), 10–163.


Giovan Francesco Arrivabene stated, “Vi sono di molte urne antiche di marmo con le loro inscrittioni ma corrose, le quali tutte hanno che trattar di Cesij, et però esso cardinale ve le ha fatte pore”; Guido Rebecchini, “Giovan Francesco Arrivabene a Roma nel 1550: Una nuova descrizione del giardino del Cardinale Federico Cesi,” Pegasus 2 (2000), 41–60,  Appendix (ASM, AG, b. 888, cc. 425r–429r), 52. Ulisse Aldrovandi stated, “A le mura di questo Hemiciclo si veggono attaccate diverse tavole marmoree, con antichi epitafij che fanno tutti mentione deli antica famiglia Cesia, che hoggi di Cesis diciamo”; Aldrovandi, Di tutte le statue antiche, 132. The practice of using antiquities and inscriptions to substantiate a family’s ancient ancestral claims was a long one in Rome, occurring as early as the Middle Ages. See Kathleen Wren Christian, “Raphael, Leo X, and the De’ Rossi Collection of Ancient Sculpture,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 65 (2002), 132–200; Kathleen Wren Christian, “From Ancestral Cults to Art: The Santacroce Collection of Antiquities,” in Senso delle rovine e riuso dell’antico, ed. Walter Cupperi (Pisa: Scuola Normale Superiore, 2004), 255–72; and Christian, Empire without End, 63–89.


The garden’s proximity to the Vatican made it convenient for visits by clergy, foreign diplomats, pilgrims, and tourists. The reception and appearance of the garden were thus recorded in a number of personal diaries and letters, travel guidebooks, and artists’ sketchbooks. In addition to the authors listed in note 28, see Maxmillian van Waelscapple, Cod. Berolinensis Lat. 61s, fol. 62r–v, published in Hülsen, Römische Antikengärten, 36–37; Gabriel Symeoni, Illustratione degli epitaffi et medaglie antiche (Lyon: Giovan di Tournes, 1558); and Solomon Reinach, L’album de Pierre Jacques, sculpteur de Reims, dessiné a Rome de 1572 à 1577 (Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1902).


“Tutte le statue antiche, che in questa casa, e giardino sono, sono bellissime e rare; perche il gentilissimo spirito del Reverendiss. di Cesis inamorato forte delle cose antiche, senza perdonare a spesa alcuna, ha sempre da varii luoghi havute e raccolte le piu belle cose che ritrovate si siano; per ornar poi, come ha fatto, questo suo cosi bel palagio, e giardino; ne’quali luoghi che entra, resta attonito, e pieno di meraviglia, e di piacere, e gli pare d’entrar in paradiso. Al Signor Iddio piaccia; che se ne possa lietamente, e di lungo godere il suo buon Signore”; Aldrovandi, Di tutte le statue antiche, 136.


The will is dated 4 Apr. 1555: ASR, Archivio Segretari e Cancellieri Reverenda Camera Apostolica (hereafter Arch. Seg. Can. RCA), 181, fol. 450r–456v. Copies are found in ASR, Arch. Mass., 277, no. 10, and 176, fol. 17ff; and Archivio Storico Capitolino (hereafter ASC), Archivio Urbano (hereafter Arch. Urb.), sez. V, prot. 1, fol. 380–91. A codicil was created on 25 January 1565: ASR, Archivio Collegio Notai Capitolini (hereafter Arch. Coll. Not. Cap.), 1575, fol. 465r–v.


The use of fedecommessi to secure hereditary assets existed in Rome as early as the thirteenth century, but became increasingly popular in the sixteenth century; by the seventeenth century, almost all noble families had established them. Because the primogenitura and fedecommesso were used in tandem, over time they became synonymous. They encompassed financial assets, titles, urban properties and extra-urban land, as well as domestic furnishings, jewelry, libraries, and art and antiquities collections. For a discussion of fedecommessi and inheritance practices in early modern Rome, see Richard J. Ferraro, “The Nobility of Rome, 1560–1700: A Study of Its Composition, Wealth, and Investment” (PhD diss., University of Wisconsin, 1994), 138–50; Maura Piccialuti, L’immortalità dei beni: Fedecommessi e primogeniture a Roma nei secoli XVII e XVIII (Rome, 1999); Nicola La Marca, “Primogeniture e fidecommissi nella Roma pontificia,” in Tra rendita e investimenti: Formazione e gestione dei grandi patrimoni in Italia in età moderna e contemporanea (Bari: Cacucci, 1996), 147–63; and La Marca, La nobilità romana e i suoi strumenti di perpetuazione del potere, 3 vols. (Rome: Bulzoni, 2000), esp. 1:15–255.


“… quod statuae marmoree, epitaphia et tabule marmoree et cetere res antique tam in cortili seu in claustro et porticu Palatii que in viridario et vinea montis … non posssint ex dicto cortili, claustro, porticu, viridario, vinea et studio, nullo unquam tempore amoveri, sed ibi perpetuo tamquem pars palatii permaneri debeant, et subjiciantur huic fideicommisso …”; ASR, Arch. Seg. Can. RCA, 181, fol. 455r.


In the case of forfeiture by heirs, both wills required that their collections be transferred to the ownership of the Conservators, or municipal authorities, on the Capitoline for the benefit of the Roman people. Marcantonio Altieri’s will was included in his treatises Li nuptuali (1511) and Li baccanali (1513); Gabriele de’ Rossi’s will dates from 1517. See Christian, “Raphael, Leo X, and the De’ Rossi Collection”; and Christian, Empire without End, 204–6, 258–62, 361–66.


Balduino Del Monte’s fedecommesso was made on 16 September 1555; the inscription hangs opposite the lex hortorum inscription of the garden, and invites visitors to stop and say a prayer for Balduino and Julius III. For the Villa Giulia and the inscriptions, see Tilman Falk, “Studien zur Topographie und Geschichte der Villa Giulia in Rom,” Römisches Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte 13 (1971), 101–78. For Balduino Del Monte’s fedecommesso and the Del Monte patrimony, see Domenico Tesoroni, Il Palazzo di Firenze e l’eredità di Balduino del Monte, fratello di papa Giulio III (Rome: Stabilmento Tipografico dell’Opinione, 1889).


Later examples of testaments with explicit references to gardens include those of Giangiorgio Cesarini (1574), Cardinal Flavio Orsini (1581), Ciriaco Mattei (1610), and Vincenzo Giustiniani (1640). For Cesarini, see Niccola Ratti, Della famiglia Sforza (Rome: Il Salomoni, 1792), 2:291–92; for Orsini, Cesare d’Onofrio, Le fontane di Roma, 3rd ed. (Rome: Romana Società, 1986); for Mattei, Lanciani, Storia degli Scavi (1907), 3:83–86; and for Giustiniani, Luisa Capoduro, “Testamento del marchese Vincenzo Giustiniani,” in Caravaggio e i Giustiniani: Toccar con mano una collezione del seicento, ed. Silvia Danesi Squarzina (Milan: Electa, 2001), 204–5.


La Marca, La nobilità romana, 1:121.


ASR, Arch. Coll. Not. Cap., 1524/1523, fol. 87v–88r.


One anonymous seventeenth-century writer lamented that he made every effort to find this document in Rome, to no avail: ASR, Arch. Mass., 271, fol. 7v. My own efforts to locate this inventory have also been unsuccessful.


Guidebook descriptions of the garden and prints of its sculpture continued to be published in the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, such as Luigi Contarini, L’antiquità di Roma, 2nd ed. (Venice: Francesco Ziletti, 1575), 102v–104r; Jean-Jacques Boissard, I–IV Pars Romanae urbis topographiae et antiquitatum (Frankfurt: Théodore de Bry, 1595–1600), 1:6–11; 2:13, 192; 3:43–44, 46–48, 50, 52, 54–55, 58–59, 60–62, 64–68, 70–86, 145, 148, 157, 169; 4:98; Franciscus Schottus, Itinerarii Italiae pars secunda (Antwerp: Officina Plantiniana, 1600), 72–74; Iodicus Hondius, Nova et accurata Italiae hodiernae descriptio (Lugduni Batavorum, 1621), 147–48; Hermann Bavinck, Wegzeiger zu den wunderbarlichen Sachen der heiligen Stat Rom (Rome: Cavelli, 1635), 42; Cavalieri, Antiquarum Statuarum Urbis Romae (Rome, ca. 1570–85 and 1594), 1–3:7, 19–20, 24–25; and 3–4:37, 79; Girolamo Porro, Antiquarium Statuarum Urbis Romae (Venice, 1570); Lorenzo Vaccaro, Antiquarum Statuarum Urbis Romae (Rome, 1584), n.p.; and Girolamo Franzini, Icones Statuarum Antiquarum Urbis Romae (Rome, 1589), n.p. Van Cleve III’s Cardinal Cesi’s Garden in Rome (Figure 6), painted in Antwerp in 1584, also indicates that foreign audiences knew the Cesi Garden.


Angelo Cesi (1542–69) was the son of Cardinal Federico’s eldest brother, Giangiacomo. In addition to the properties he inherited from his uncle both in and outside Rome, he owned another house in the Vatican Borgo, his main residence in a palace in Piazza Fiammetta (today on the Via Maschera d’Oro), and a palace in Acquasparta (a fief in Umbria). He died battling Huguenots in France while serving as an officer in the papal army. Federico, his eldest son, inherited the estate on 11 January 1570 (ASR, Arch. Coll. Not. Cap., 1533, fol. 56v–57r).


Duke Federico Cesi I (1562–1630) married into the Orsini family, one of the oldest and most prominent of Rome. His income, which grew from Cardinal Federico’s investments and landed assets, exceeded 70,000 scudi a year. He also collected titles from the fiefs that formed part of Cardinal Federico’s legacy and to which later popes bestowed noble titles, including Marchese di Monticelli, Marchese di San Polo e Sant’Angelo, and most notably, Duke of Acquasparta.


Bartolomeo Cesi (1568–1621) was the second son of Angelo Cesi. He became cardinal in 1596 and is best known for his position as treasurer general of the Apostolic Camera; during his tenure in this office, he organized the separation of archival documents from the Vatican Library, resulting in the institution of the Vatican Secret Archives. Records dated 1601 and 1604 from the Stati delle anime in the Ufficio Parrochiale di San Pietro (no collocation) list Cardinal Cesi residing at the palace with a palace staff (famiglia) of sixty. Under the newly elected Pope Gregory XV Ludovisi in 1621, Cardinal Bartolomeo received the bishopric of Tivoli, where he had served as governor in 1587 and where he owned a small villa. But he enjoyed this title for only four months before his death. See Agostino Borromeo, “Bartolomeo Cesi,” in DBI, 24:246–47.


Duke Federico I vehemently opposed his son’s involvement with the Accademia dei Lincei and disinherited him because of the association, reinstating him as heir only later. He was suspicious of the group’s scientific studies and feared accusations of heresy and subsequent scandal: one of the members of the academy, for example, was Galileo Galilei. For the Accademia dei Lincei, see David Freedberg, The Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, His Friends, and the Beginning of Modern Natural History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002). A leopard or lynx kept by Cardinal Bartolomeo as a pet in the garden apparently served as a kind of mascot for the group: on 27 July 1625 Giovanni Faber wrote to Federico II in Rome, asking for some images or information about his uncle’s leopard for illustrations in his new book on the lynx. See Giuseppe Gabrieli, “Il carteggio linceo, parte I–III,” Atti della Reale Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, serie IV, memorie della classe di scienza, morali, e filologiche 7 (1938), letter 857; and Gabrieli, “Verbali delle adunanze e cronaca della prima accademia lincea (1603–1630),” Atti della Reale Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Serie IV, memorie della classe di scienza, morali, e filologiche 2 (1926), 463–512.


As older baronial families and members of the petty nobility attempted to compete with the wealth and lavish lifestyle of new papal families in the early modern period, the Roman economy became increasingly dependent upon a system of loans and credit. A rapid shift in social, political, and economic power occurred as these new families—and especially papal nephews—acquired the landed assets and feudal titles of nobles who were unable to repay their loans. See Jean Delumeau, Vie économique et sociale de Rome dans la seconde moitié du XIVe siècle, 2 vols. (Paris: De Boccard, 1957–59), 1:469–89.


As part of a financial investment called the monti baronali, the Monte di Cesi was established in 1590 in the amount of 80,000 scudi, and again in 1603 at 10,900 scudi with a return of 5.2 percent. In 1610 another Cesi bond issue of 235,000 scudi, with a rate of 5.75 percent, was established. Administered by the Congregazione di Baroni, bonds were sold at 100 scudi a share, to be paid back with interest, and the properties of the family were used as security. See Ferraro, “Nobility of Rome,” 366–76, 387, 404, 409; and Martinori, Genealogia e cronistoria, 66, 68, 81.


Ludovico Ludovisi (1595–1632) became cardinal on 15 February 1621, just three days into his uncle Gregory XV’s pontificate. For the Villa Ludovisi see Giuseppe Felici, Villa Ludovisi di Roma (Rome: Sansaini, 1952); Armando Schiavo, Villa Ludovisi and Palazzo Margherita, trans. Erika G. Young (Rome: Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, 1981); and Carla Benocci, Villa Ludovisi (Rome: Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, 2010).


Beatrice Palma and Lucilla de Lachenal, Museo Nazionale Romano: Le Sculture: I Marmi Ludovisi nel Museo Nazionale Romano, ed. Antonio Giuliano (Rome: De Luca, 1983), vol. 1, part 4, 11–38. See also Antonio Giuliano, ed., La collezione Buoncompagni Ludovisi: Algardi, Bernini e la fortuna dell’antico (Venice: Marsilio Editori, 1992), esp. 19–24.


ASR, Archivio Notai del Tribunale dell’Auditor Camerale (hereafter Not. AC), 6334, fol. 472r–481r; ASV, Archivio Boncampagni-Ludovisi (hereafter Arch. Lud.), 611, nos. 18 and 20, n.p.


“nella grotta dipinta dentro al Giardino et anco che era nella facciata di detta grotta, e fori frà la grotta e la Cancellata”; ASR, Not. AC, 6334, fol. 481r–v. The decree makes apparent just how anxious Ludovisi had been to get his hands on Cesi antiquities: one of the most famous items, the “bust of Scipio Africanus of black marble,” was to be delivered to him within just twenty days.


Duke Federico I’s younger sons ratified the sale, as he had disinherited his eldest son because of his involvement with the Accademia dei Lincei (ASV, Arch. Lud., 611, 18 and 20, n.p.). Payments for transport of the sculptures were made on 13 and 17 September 1622.


Over one hundred works of sculpture and fragments were still standing in the garden in 1715 when an inventory was made (ASR, Not. AC, 3353, fol. 385r–386v). The number of works remaining in the garden after the 1622 Ludovisi purchase may have been higher, as a few works may have been moved to other Cesi properties during the late seventeenth century.


For the iconography of the Roma Triumphans group, see Roger Cushing Aikin, “Romae de Dacia Triumphantis: Roma and Captives at the Capitoline Hill,” Art Bulletin 62 (1980), 583–97; and Wolfgang Leibenwein, “Der Portikus Clemens XI. und sein Statuenschmuck: Antikenrezeption und Kapitolisidee im frühen 18. Jahrhundert,” in Antikensammlungen im 18. Jahrhundert, ed. Herbert Beck et al. (Berlin: Mann, 1981), 73–117.


Leibenwein, “Der Portikus Clemens XI. und sein Statuenschmuck,” 89–90. The theme was popular at the time, appearing in similar groups at the Palazzo Farnese, at the Villa d’Este at Tivoli, and later in the Piazza Campidoglio.


Bentz, “Cardinal Cesi and His Garden,” 39–40, 131.


Giacomo Lauro, Antiquae Urbis Splendor (Rome: A. Fei, 1612–15).


Gabrieli, “Il carteggio linceo, parte I–III,” letter 535. That Federico II was proud of the Cesi Garden and the Roma Triumphans group is also clear in a letter in which he describes them in 1624: Gabrieli, “Il carteggio linceo, parte I–III,” letter 764.


The theme is elaborated upon in a poem by a Doctor Andreas Baianus (printed alongside the image of Roma), which extols the greatness of ancient Rome and proclaims the superiority of the Christian city.


Seventeenth-century descriptions of the statues include Cesare Ripa, Iconologia (Rome: Lepido Faeij, 1603), 261; Franciscus Schottus, Itinerario overo nova descrittione de’ viaggi principali d’Italia (Padua: Mattio Cadorini, 1644), 40–41; Giovanni Pietro Bellori, Nota delli musei, librerie, galerie, et ornamenti di statue e pitture (Rome: Falco, 1664), 17; and Pietro de’ Sebastiani, Le cose più notabili tanto de giardini, quanto de’ palazzi, librerie, musei, e galerie di Roma per facilitare la curosità de’ forastieri (Rome: Paolo Moneta, 1677), 133–34.


Citing de’ Sebastiani, Viaggio curioso de’ palazzi e ville più notabili di Roma (Rome, 1683), 56–60, several authors have stated incorrectly that the Roma Triumphans group was moved from the garden, along with other works, to another Cesi property in the seventeenth century. These authors, however, mistook de’ Sebastiani’s description of the Cesi Garden and Palazzo “al Colonnato,” or at the Colonnades of St. Peter’s, for a reference to another Cesi Villa on Via Flaminia. They may have also followed a reference in François-Jacques Deseine’s Rome Moderne, premiére ville de l’Europe, avec toutes ses magnificences et ses delices, 6 vols. (Leiden: Pierre van der Aa, 1713), 1:7–8, in which he incorrectly places the group at the Cesi Villa on Via Flaminia. See Carlo Pietrangeli, “Le antichità dei Cesi in Campidoglio,” Bollettino dei musei comunali di Roma 3 (1989), 53–54; and Alessandra Tempesta, “I rilievi con armi Cesi,” Bullettino della commissione archaeological comunale di Roma 94 (1991–92), 309–40, esp. 310. Martinori, Genealogia e cronistoria, 97, also stated incorrectly that all the Cesi works were moved to the Palazzo Cesi near Piazza Fiammetta on Via Maschera d’Oro. However, garden inventories, the plan in the Archivio di Stato, and records of its final sale to the Conservators of Rome in 1719 show that the Roma Triumphans and numerous statues remained in situ in the garden throughout Cesi ownership.


ASR, Arch. Mass., App. I, 17, no. 2, n.p.


Aikin, “Romae de Dacia Triumphantis,” 583–97; Leibenwein, “Der Portikus Clemens XI. und sein Statuenschmuck”; Christopher Johns, Papal and Cultural Politics: Rome in the Age of Clement XI (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 190–94; and Édouard Pommier, “Roma Triumphans!” in Roma Triumphans? L’attualità dell’antico nella Francia del settecento: Atti del convegno internazionale di studi, Roma, Centro di Studi italo-francesci, ed. Letizia Norci Cagiano (Rome: Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 2007), 3–24.


Paolo Alessandro Maffei, Raccolta di statue antiche e moderne (Rome: Gaetano Zenobi, 1704). That Pope Clement XI took a personal interest in the group is further demonstrated by a transcription in his own hand of the inscriptions on Lafréry’s 1549 print. See Leibenwein, “Der Portikus Clemens XI. und sein Statuenschmuck,” 78n29.


For documents regarding the sale, transport, and restoration of the statues, and the construction of the portico at the Palazzo dei Conservatori, see Mauro de Felice, Miti ed allegorie egizie in Campidoglio (Bologna: Pàtron, 1982), 45–55, 90–106. The duke’s sons Federico and Carlo (seventh and eighth Dukes of Acquasparta, respectively) acquired the offices of Agente del Popolo Romano, Computista della Gabbella della Carne, Mastro delle Mosse, Custode Primo della Statua di Sisto V, Commissario Secondo dell’Acqua di Cerchio Massimo, and Custode Secondo delle Misure di Campidoglio (ASR, Arch. Mass., App. I, 17).


Federico Cesi I died on 24 June 1630, and his son, Federico II, took possession of the estate on 1 July (ASR, Not. AC, 668 3r–15v). Duke Federico II died unexpectedly after a brief illness on 2 August 1630. See Figure 10.


The legal judgments are summarized in ASR, Arch. Mass., 217, fol. 63r–70r.


For the Villa Barberini ai Bastioni, see Roberto Battaglia, “Il Palazzo di Nerone e la Villa Barberini al Gianicolo,” Roma 20 (1942), 401–17; Battaglia, Il Palazzo di Nerone e la Villa Barberini al Gianicolo (Rome: R. Istituto di Studi Romani, 1943); and Luigi Lotti, “La Villa Barberini al Gianicolo e il problema delle fortificazioni meridionali del Vaticano,” L’Urbe 43 (1980), 1–16.


Rights to five oncie of water from the Acqua Paola were granted to Taddeo in a papal chirograph dated 28 August 1640, ironically approved by Bishop Angelo Cesi, the youngest son of Duke Federico II and treasurer general of the Camera (BAV, Arch. Barb., Ind. II, 23). The sale of the vigna to Taddeo Barberini is confirmed in a papal chirograph dated 9 Mar. 1641 (BAV, Arch. Barb., Ind. II, 2964).


BAV, Arch. Barb., Ind. II, 2970 1r–7r. Eiche, “On the Layout,” 276–77, fig. 20, published the plan that accompanied the chirograph, as well as another of the same area (BAV, Arch. Barb., Ind. II, 2974A). Benocci, “Gli effetti del colonnato,” reproduced details from copies of identical plans found in ASR, Archivio Trenta Notai Capitolini (hereafter 30 Not. Cap.), 47, fol. 252 and 273. She believes the plan of the entire garden found in the Archivio di Stato dates to this same period. See note 124 below.


For the history of construction and further bibliography, see Christof Thoenes, “Studien zur Geschichte des Petersplatzes,” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 26 (1963), 97–145; Timothy K. Kitao, Circle and Oval in the Square of Saint Peter’s: Bernini’s Art of Planning (New York: New York University Press, 1974); Daniela del Pesco, Colonnato di San Pietro: “Dei Portici antichi e la loro diversità,” con un’ipotesi di cronologia (Rome: Il Università degli Studi di Roma, 1988); Tod A. Marder, Bernini’s Scala Regia at the Vatican Palace (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 82–129; and Dorothy Metzger Habel, The Urban Development of Rome in the Age of Alexander VII (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 257–85.


ASR, Not. AC, 2315, n.p. See also Franz Ehrle, “Dalle carte e dai disegni di Virgilio Spada,” Atti della Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archaeologia, ser. 3, Memorie 2 (1928), 70. A brief further detailing the transaction was issued by Alexander VII on 30 June 1661 (ASR, Not. AC, 2315, fol. 17r–18v, 25v–26v).


BAV, Chigi P VII, 9, fol. 53v–54r. The value of the area slated for demolition was estimated by two surveyors of the Fabbrica in January and February of 1661 (ASR, Not. AC, 2315, fol. 16r–v, 27r). According to this estimate, the width of the palace façade was to be reduced by 40 palmi (8.935 m) at the west corner, 80 palmi (17.872 m) in the center, and 103 palmi (23.01 m) at the east corner. The entire giardino segreto immediately next to the palace on the east was to be sacrificed, losing about 120 palmi (26.808 m) from the north to south.


British Library, maps 7.TAB.57, fol. 27. This anonymous, late seventeenth-century plan was cited by Lanciani, Storia degli Scavi, 4:108, but first published in Eiche, “On the Layout,” 260, fig. 2. Drawn in pen and brown ink, with gray, pink, yellow, and green wash, it consists of two joined sheets and measures 413/416 x 737/738 millimeters.


Duke Federico Cesi IV, eldest son of Duke Federico III, died in Rome in 1666, just a few years after the demolition of the palace and garden. The document of sale appears in ASR, Not. AC, 2315, fol. 8r–12v, 31r–33v. Payments made by the Fabbrica to the Cesi are recorded in ASR, Not. AC, 2315, fol. 13r, 14r, 15r–v.


Habel, The Urban Development of Rome, 267.


Rudolf Wittkower, “A Counter-Project to Bernini’s ‘Piazza di San Pietro,’ ” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 3 (1939–40), plate 20a. The plan was lost after its publication, and knowledge of it exists only from Wittkower’s article. For a discussion of the obstacles Bernini inherited at the site, see Kitao, Circle and Oval, 5–8, 28, and 83–84n21. For the history of the original piazza fountain, refurbished in 1614 by Maderno, see Howard Hibbard, Carlo Maderno and Roman Architecture (London: Zwemmer, 1971), 62–63 and 100–1; and Habel, The Urban Development of Rome, 266–67. For the ways in which the Borgo Nuovo contributed to the design of the north corridor and the trapezoidal piazza retta, see Marder, Bernini’s Scala Regia, 82–105.


BAV, Vat. Chigi H II 22, fol. 97 and 106r–v. See also Del Pesco, Colonnato di San Pietro, 42–45 and 52–53.


Richard Krautheimer and Roger B. S. Jones, “The Diary of Alexander VII: Notes on Art, Artists and Building,” Römisches Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte 15 (1975), 199–233, 214, no. 443. The pope made additional references to the garden in his diary, noting the date of payment for the land and the palace demolition on 29 January 1661, as well as Cardinal Pallavicino’s reading of the Cesi fedecommesso before the Fabbrica on 23 July 1665: ibid., 214, no. 449, and 224, no. 875.


Habel, The Urban Development of Rome, 279, states that a new gate and path through the Cesi Garden was cut following the demolition of the palace, but descriptions by sixteenth-century visitors to the garden suggest that the gate indicated on the garden plan in the Archivio di Stato is the same as the original sixteenth-century gate leading to the giardino segreto. An early photograph of this gate, taken inside the Cesi Garden looking north, is published by Sabine Eiche, “On the Layout,” 274, fig. 18.


Archive documents frequently refer to the palace with this name after the mid-seventeenth century: see ASR, Arch. Mass., 146, 152, 162, 172, 176, 181, 273, 287, and App. II, 179.


By the later seventeenth century, much of the property owned by the three different branches of the Cesi family had been assumed under a single fedecommesso. In addition to the Cesi Garden and Palazzo al Colonnato, the Cesi owned palaces on Via del Borgo Vecchio; Via Maschera d’Oro; Via del Gesù, and near Montecitorio; vigne and houses in Trastevere, Prati, and on the Quirinal; and casale and fiefs outside Rome at Acquasparta, Cesi, Todi, Narni and Cantalupo, San Polo, Sant’Angelo Romano, Marco Simone, Tivoli, and elsewhere. See Martinori, Genealogia e cronistoria, 87–105.


ASR, Not. AC, 244, fol. 325r, dated 5 February 1665, contains the lease of the Cesi garden and three workshop rooms on site by one Francesco Cinisello for 45 scudi. Folio 51r–v of the same volume, dated 1 January 1665, refers to the palace as “demolito in parte” and lists payments made to a Master Marco for clearing away marble fragments, capitals and columns, and statuary, and for delivering some of it to the Cesi palace in Piazza Fiammetta. The south arm of Bernini’s colonnade was completed by April 1666. The garden had been rented as part of the palace to Marchesa Eleonora Orsini de Nobili and her children from 1651 to 1661. Her household staff, including a gardener, are listed in the seventeenth-century records of the Ufficio Parrochiale di San Pietro, Stati delle anime: 1650, fol. 25r–26r; 1651, fol. 26r–27r; 1652, fol. 27r; 1653–54, fol. 26r and 108r; 1655–56, fol. 14r and 26r; 1657, fol. 8r–v; 1659–60, fol. 20r–21r and 23r–24r; 1661, fol. 22r. See also the inventory of the furnishings owned by Eleonora de Nobili in Carla Benocci, Villa Spada (Rome: Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, 2007), 289–94.


“Per miglioramenti fatti all’palazzo detto Colonnate per ridurlo habitabile et fruttifero.,” ASR, Arch. Mass., 278, fol. 25r–26r. Contini is named as architect in ASC, Arch. Urb., sez. V, Prot. 6, fol. 403–404r. Contini also appears as architect in payments made by Duke Cesi to the head mason who worked for Contini during the later seventeenth-century. ASR, Arch. Mass., 159 also lists the repairs done on the façade, rooms and staircase inside the palace.


ASR, Arch. Mass., 158, no. 70. These two plans are joined by plans of the cantine and attic levels, and a less detailed drawing of the piano nobile. For more on Contini’s design, see Benocci, “Gli effetti del colonnato,” 68–70. Benocci dates the plans to ca. 1667, the year that the southern colonnade of the Piazza San Pietro was completed. But rental contracts for the newly rebuilt palace do not appear until 1672, when the first leases were given to Roberto de Nobili on 27 May for two apartments on the piano nobile, and 13 October to Bastiano Mattei for rooms on the ground floor of the palace (ASR, Arch. Mass., 273, fol. 121r–v, 161r–v). Apartments continued to be rented until the Cesi finally sold the palace and garden property in 1762. Leasing brought in an annual average of 50 scudi for a single apartment composed of a few rooms, to 100–120 scudi for the entire building. For examples see ASR, Arch. Mass., 162, 179, 221, 278, fol. 66r.


As Richard Ferraro has shown, palaces were rarely only residential in nature, more often serving commercial or investment functions: Ferraro, “The Nobility of Rome,” 418–25, 757–69. For examples of the widespread practice of palace rental in early modern Rome, see Maria Celeste Cola, “Palaces for Rent,” in Gail Feigenbaum, ed., Display of Art in Roman Palaces, 1550–1750 (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, forthcoming).


Jack Wasserman, “The Quirinal Palace in Rome,” Art Bulletin 45 (1963), 205–44. Cardinals often rented palaces and villas: it was more convenient for those who did not live in Rome permanently and it was less expensive.


Elisabeth MacDougall, “The Villa Mattei and the Development of Roman Garden Style” (PhD diss., Harvard University, 1970), 246; Beneš, “The Social Significance of Transforming the Landscape at the Villa Borghese,” 14n49.


Mirka Beneš, “Villa Pamphilj (1630–1670): Family, Gardens, and Land in Papal Rome,” 3 vols. (PhD diss., Yale University, 1989), 1:482.


Felici, Villa Ludovisi, 321–40.


MacDougall, “The Villa Mattei and the Development of Roman Garden Style,” 175.


Ehrlich, Landscape and Identity, 197–216.


The documents, dated between 1665 and 1760, are found in ASR, Arch. Mass., 162, 181, 172, 221, 273, 275, 278, 287; ASR, 30 Not. Cap., 199; ASR, Not. AC, 244, 3353, 3390. The income from garden and palace apartment rentals averaged between 90 and 220 scudi during the late seventeenth century (ASR, Arch. Mass., App. II, 179). While not a large sum of money, it was reliable income.


Inventories and accounting records for planting and agricultural production have been painstakingly studied for large seventeenth-century villa-estates such as the Villa Pamphilj and the Villa Mondragone in Frascati. See Beneš, “Villa Pamphilj,” 426–539, and Ehrlich, Landscape and Identity, 197–216. Inventories of flowers in the seventeenth-century giardini segreti of the Caetani and Barberini have also been studied; see Georgina Masson, “Italian Flower Collectors’ Gardens of the Seventeenth Century,” in The Italian Garden, ed. David Coffin (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 1972), 61–80; and Elisabeth Blair MacDougall, “A Cardinal’s Bulb Garden: A Giardino Segreto at the Palazzo Barberini in Rome,” in Fountains, Statues, and Flowers: Studies in Italian Gardens of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 1994), 219–346. For large-scale farming in the 8,000 rubbie (38,000 acres) of vineyards encircling Rome, see Anna Lepre, “Agricoltura e manifattura in una rione di Roma nel seicento e nel settecento,” Studi Romani 25, no. 3 (1977), 355–70. Her examination of rental contracts for viticulture sharecroppers of the seventeenth-century parishes of Trastevere shows similarities to the provisions outlined for renters in Cesi Garden contracts.


In 1677, for example, the entire Cesi holdings in the Borgo, including the apartments of the Palazzo Grande and lower-level shops in the Borgo Vecchio (originally owned by Cardinal Pierdonato Cesi, younger cousin of Cardinal Federico, in the later sixteenth century and added to the Cesi fedecommesso after his death in 1586); cassette bordering the Cesi Garden along the city walls and in the “Piazza di S. Marta et in Loco detto L’Egitto”; granary and stables near the Porta Cavallegeri; and the “Palazzino alle Colonnate di S. Pietro” with garden, grottoes, and statuario were leased to Paolo Acinelli, who had “worked for many years” for Giuseppe Angelo Cesi, fifth Duke of Aquasparta. The cost of the nine-year lease was 620 scudi a year with an annual 5 percent rate increase. In turn, Acinelli would administer the subleases of the property and sale of agricultural products from the garden. In 1680, Cesi architect, Giovanni Battista Contini, inventoried and valued the property as part of the lease agreement: ASR, Arch. Mass., 221, fol. 117–203. Assigning the management of farming production to a governor was common at large estates, such as the Borghese Villa Mondragone in Frascati: see Ehrlich, Landscape and Identity, 197–216.


In addition to wood from walnut, cypress, and mulberry trees in the garden, the fruit of Seville orange trees (melangoli) seemed to be particularly valuable to the Cesi dukes, as these items are mentioned as reserved for the family in more than one contract: see ASR, Arch. Mass., 273, fol. 518v, and Not. AC, 3390, fol. 203r. The accounting records for the sales of fruit, flowers, wine, and vegetables from the Cesi Garden are, owing to the limited scope of extant archival documents, unfortunately almost nonexistent. Occasional mentions of sales of garden products, such as blooms from carnations and espaliered rose bushes, strawberries, Seville oranges and other fruit trees, and assorted vegetables generated up to 30 scudi annually, but owing to the number of vegetables and fruit trees growing in the garden, it is likely that a greater amount of produce was sold every year (ASR, Arch. Mass., 273, fol. 227r–v; 275, fol. 578r, fol. 620r–v). One document mentions that the renter may sell whatever wine he had produced from the vineyard areas of the garden; presumably other lessees were allowed to sell wine as well (ASR, Arch. Mass., 275, fol. 578r).


ASR, Not. AC, 244, fol. 325r–326v; ASR, Arch. Mass., 273, fol. 518–519r and 221, fol. 117–225. Because of the limited nature of Cesi archival records, I have not found evidence regarding the frequency with which the family would visit and enjoy the garden during the later seventeenth century. In a 1715 contract, Duchess Giacinta Conti Cesi, wife of Federico Angelo Pierdonato, fifth Duke of Aquasparta, made explicit provisions enabling her to enjoy the garden whenever she desired, suggesting that she particularly enjoyed visiting the site.


See note 52.


Contini’s estimate for rebuilding was 8,000 scudi, while one Ercole Farrati estimated the value of the statues on-site as 14,830 scudi. ASR, Arch. Mass., 146, no. 25, 10r–v; ASC, Arch. Urb. sez. V, prot. 6, fol. 403v–404r.


ASR, Arch. Mass., 271, 173v. This document, “Libro di istrumenti, 1559–1571, ” is undated but contains summaries of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century assets in Cardinal Federico’s fedecommesso, including copies of records dating to the 1630s. In a summary of the sale of antiquities to Cardinal Ludovisi in 1622, the seicento author writes that the statues were not just famous during Cardinal Federico Cesi’s lifetime and after his death, “mà ancora sia da tutti hoggi tenute delle più famose cose che siano in Roma.” The garden and its remaining treasures continued to appear in guidebooks well into the eighteenth century. See, e.g., Roma antica e moderna, o sia, nuova descrizione della moderna città di Roma e di tutti gli edifizi notabili che sono in essa (Rome: Roisecco, 1745), 1:90.


Katherine Wentworth Rinne, The Waters of Rome: Aqueducts, Fountains, and the Birth of the Baroque City (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 183–84; for numerous examples of water as a political and financial commodity in Rome, see esp. 109–92.


Ehrlich, Landscape and Identity, 84–87.


This fountain still stands outside Porta Cavalleggeri, though it was moved slightly to the west in the early twentieth century to make way for the modern traffic intersection. As its inscription states, the fountain was established by Pius IV in 1565. It was originally fed by the Acqua Pia, a small aqueduct bringing water from the upper levels of the Janiculum Hill. Carlo Fea, Storia: Delle acque antiche sorgenti in Roma perdute, e modi di ristabilirele (Rome: Stamperia della R.C.A., 1832), and Aristide Taini, Le acque e le fontane di Roma (Turin: Italia industriale artistica, 1936), 26.


ASR, Miscellanea Famiglie, 48, fasc. 3, n.p.; ASR, Arch. Mass., 146, no. 25, 10r–v. An inscription of 1713 on the fountain credits Clement XI with restoring the water source. The Cesi Garden apparently had enough of its own natural water supply in the sixteenth century, perhaps from underground springs created by runoff from the Janiculum Hill, for three fountains and a well as early as the mid-sixteenth century.


ASR, Arch. Mass., 181, fol. 1r–8v. The inventory and estimate for a rental in 1728 described the garden as having a wet or sodden part (“acquatico”) and a dry part (“arido”), without specifying locations: ASR, Arch. Mass., 162, no. 3, fol. 5r. The lack of water in the garden could sometimes cost the Cesi money: in 1734, they were forced to reimburse their tenant for damage done to plants from a lack of sufficient water (ASR, Arch. Mass., 287).


ASR, Arch. Mass., 146, no. 25, fol. 10v, which cites a papal chirograph dated 31 July 1723.


Except for scattered occasions, accounting records for the Cesi in this period do not seem to exist in the Archivio Massimo dell’Aracoeli, Eredità Cesi at the Archvio di Stato. A copy of a list of “entrata” or income from properties owned by the Cesi dating from 1682 to 1688 lists the Cesi palace and garden rentals as generating 210 scudi annually, a small part of the total income (10,701 scudi) from all the palaces, casali, and vineyards they owned and leased in Rome and in their fiefs in Lazio and Umbria (ASR, Arch. Mass., 278, 66r). In 1693, the income from the same property is listed as 220 scudi, with income from all properties listed as 9,960 scudi (ASR, Misc. Famiglie, 48, fasc. 3). An assessment of properties in 1705 valued the “Palazzo, Giardino, Grotte, e statue posto alle colonnade di S. Pietro” at 37,000 scudi (ASR, Misc. Famiglie, 48, fasc. 4). Account records for the sale of grapes or other garden produce have not been preserved.


The following derives from inventories dating from 1674 to 1760: ASR, Arch. Mass., 162, 172, and 273; ASR, Not. AC, 3353, fol. 339r–34rv, 346r–347v, 383r–386v; and 3390, fol. 206r–212v. The inventories list plum, orange, peach, fig, cherry, apple and pear, black mulberry, walnut, and almond trees.


We know that grape vines had existed in the garden before Cardinal Federico Cesi inherited it from his elder brother: in 1524, Paolo Emilio’s butcher delivered wine to the Cappella Giulia, evidently made from the cardinal’s vigna (BAV, Archivio Capitolo di San Pietro, Cappella Giulia, 2 [Istrumenti, Censuali], fol. 59r). Sixteenth-century guidebooks mention that a mulberry tree was planted in the garden’s Cenacolo: Aldrovandi, Di tutte le statue antiche, 132.


Giovan Francesco Arrivabene described the garden thus: “… il quale è grande molto et ampio et tutto pieno solament di lauri et di pini altissimi et drittissimi et vaghissimi, che anno un aere et un cielo beatissimo et dolcissimo a reguardarli”; Rebecchini, “Giovan Francesco Arrivabene,”  Appendix, c. 425v, 50. He described the vigna with similar terms: “… un colle dilettevolissimo et pieno di lauri et pini et altri arbori eccellenti, ove è la vigna del cardinal ch’io dico che signoreggia tutta Roma”; ibid.,  Appendix, c. 426r, 51.


ASR, Arch. Mass., 273, 162, and 172. Examples include Seville orange, apricot, fig, mulberry, walnut, cherry, quince, lime, plum, pear, pomegranate, olive, apple, peach, hazelnut, medlar, and hawthorn trees. Numerous cedar trees were also planted in these years, in addition to jasmine and rosemary shrubs.


ASR, Arch. Mass., 162 and 172. In 1729 and 1739 1,400 vines “in cordonata” and thirty-six vines in pergolas were counted, while in 1760 the numbers reached 5,571 and 1,861, respectively.


The Archivio di Stato plan’s legend refers to the area of the vigna as the bosco, or grove ( Appendix, no. 11) and notes areas directly east and south of the parterre as places where “si sementa” or “where one plants seeds” ( Appendix, nos. 12, 14).


ASR, Arch. Mass., 162 and 172. The rise in the number of artichokes is in keeping with the growth of the vegetable’s popularity during the early modern period. First known in the Middle East, the artichoke made appearances in Italian cooking in the late fifteenth century; by the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, it had become extremely popular. See Claudio Benporat, Storia della gastronomia italiana (Milan: Marsia, 1990), 82–83n16; Alberto Capatti and Massimo Montanari, Italian Cuisine: A Cultural History, trans. Aine O’Healy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 14; and Giancarlo Malacarne, Sulla mensa del principe: Alimentazione e banchetti alla corte dei Gonzaga (Modena: Il Bulino, 2000), 110–14. Still later in time, the artichoke became a staple in traditional Roman and Jewish cooking (e.g., carciofi alla romana or carciofi alla giudea) and remains popular in Roman cuisine today.


Taken before 1905, this photograph pictures the southeastern corner of the garden parterre, at that time used for agricultural purposes. Behind the outbuildings on the right, one can see the remains of the Antiquario (with traces of its original stucco decoration), and the remains of the Cenacolo to the left. The photograph also shows the steep hillside of the former vigna area in the background. This photo was first published by Eiche, “On the Layout,” 271, fig. 15.


Giovanni Battista Ferrari’s Hesperides sive malorum aureorum cultura et usu (Rome: Hermanni Scheus, 1646) included images of ancient sculpture with his scientific discussions of the cultivation of citrus trees and fruits.


Federico Duke IV died in 1666 without heirs, leaving the Cesi legacy to his younger brother Giuseppe Angelo Cesi (see Figure 10). As required by the fedecommesso, Giuseppe changed his name to Federico Angelo Pierdonato when he became the fifth Duke of Acquasparta. A copy of the 15 Mar. 1674 chirograph releasing Cesi properties from the fedecommesso is found in ASR, Arch. Mass., 273, fol. 633r–643v. The document mentions that the Cesi were more than 450,000 scudi in debt to the Congregatione de Baroni at varying rates of interest (4.5 percent and 5–6 percent). It also states that the duke’s wife, Giacinta Conti, was pregnant; presumably the impeding arrival of a new heir prompted the duke to resolve family debt.


“Palazzo alle colonnate di S. Pietro con il Giardino annisso, che arriva alle muraglie di Roma, e statue in esso esistenti lasciate dal detto Cardinale Federico Cesi”; ASR, Arch. Mass., 273, fol. 638v.


The granary, shops, houses, and stables west of the palace were estimated at 5,550 scudi by the architect Giovanni Battista Contini and were sold to one Master Francesco Perti. The amount was immediately applied to Duke Cesi’s outstanding debts (ASR, Arch. Mass., 176, fol. 312v–321r). For Cesi’s letter to the Barberini, see BAV, Arch. Barb., Ind. II 2971.


The inscription written below the property line reads, “Frata tra il giardino del Sig.e V Duca et quello di Sig.i Barberini,” referring to a hedge or patch of bushes between the properties.


“Sitto dell bosco e giardino dentro de esso che si vende all Sig.i Barberini et di questo si ne e mandata la pianta figurata dell’architetto Contini di Sua Eccellenza.”


ASR, Arch. Mass., 152, n.p. See note 118 on the assessment and note 94 on the Palazzo Grande in Borgo Vecchio.


For Contini, see Alessandro del Bufalo, Giovanni Battista Contini e la tradizione del tardomanerismo nell’architettura tra ’600 e ’700 (Rome: Edizioni Kappa, 1982); and Francesco Paolo Fiore, “Francesco e Giovan Battista Contini,” Ricerche di storia dell’arte 1–2 (1976), 197–210.


BAV, Arch. Barb., Ind. II, 2974B.


Carla Benocci argues that the Archivio di Stato plan of the Cesi Garden dates to 1669, the same year Pope Clement IX gave Cesi property purchased by the Fabbrica to Cardinal Barberini for a new access ramp to his villa (Benocci, “Gli effetti del colonnato,” 64). However, the papal chirograph of 1669 states that this land was purchased and given to Barberini by the Fabbrica—not by the Cesi. Further, if the fedecomesso was not dissolved until 1674, an earlier sale would have been problematic. In fact, the rebuilding of the palazzo was not finished and rented until 1672 (see note 84). Instead, the plan in the Archivio di Stato was made in preparation for sale in 1681, the date of a letter discussing a sale written by the Cesi duke to the Barberini (see note 123 above).


For unknown reasons, the Barberini did not purchase the Cesi Garden. A group of Armenian monks purchased the property from the Cesi for 7,389 scudi on 15 July 1762 for use as a monastery: ASR, Arch. Mass., App. II, 79. Though now comprising twentieth-century buildings and altered terrain, the space remains today the site of a monastic institution: the International College of Saint Monica, the Curia Generalizia and Seminary of the Augustinian Order since 1882.


Aldrovandi, Di tutte le statue antiche, 123–33.


The family had been listed among the nobility earlier in the seventeenth century, but by the eighteenth century, they were ranked as second only to the old baronial clans Colonna, Orsini, Conti, and Savelli; Deseine, Rome Moderne, 5:1226.