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.