I have built some new reading rooms in a little colonnade
in my Tusculan villa, and would like to decorate them.
-Cicero, Seventh Letter to His Friends, 61 B.C.
Collecting sculpture has been a pursuit of wealthy individuals for thousands of years. Ancient Romans, such as the statesman and writer Cicero, filled their villas with works brought from Greece as well as contemporary commissions, which were often modeled after ancient Greek statues.
Between 1600 and the late 1800s, many collections of ancient art were formed by aristocrats who lived or traveled in the Mediterranean region. Like the Romans before them, these individuals wanted to acquire ancient art for private display. Their sculptures functioned as design elements that complemented and completed their country houses and city palaces, where guests were entertained and business was transacted. New styles of architecture were even created to accommodate their collections.
Collecting antiquities was a way to show intellectual interest, a refined aesthetic sense, wealth, and status. By filling a palace or grand country house with ancient statues, an aristocrat could imply a personal connection with the illustrious collectors of antiquity and with grandeur of ancient Greece and Rome.