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1861: Purchase of the Marquis Gian Pietro Campana collection

The collection of the amateur archaeologist Giampietro Campana, Marchese di Cavelli, was of supreme importance to the Hermitage. Campana, Director of the Monte di Pieta Bank in Rome, ruined himself due to his passion for collecting, for in order to fund his purchases he was drawn to embezzlement of the bank. When caught, he was sentenced to 20 years penal servitude and confiscation of his property, but public opinion was on the side of the "poor Marquis" who had been brought to ruin by his love of the arts, and his sentence was reduced to banishment for life. The Papal government sold off his collection to cover the debts he left behind and gave Stepan Gedeonov, Director of the Hermitage, the right to select items from the collection before auction. As a result over 500 vases, 200 bronzes and numerous marble sculptures were purchased by the Hermitage, the rest being acquired by the Museum of Napoleon III in Paris.

Amongst the items purchased were ancient sculptural portraits, statues of nine muses, an enormous statue of Jupiter and a relief showing the death of Niobe's children. Also of interest are Etruscan items, Italian and Attic vases and bronzes including the famous Regina Vasorum or "Queen of Vases", plus frescoes from Raphael's workshop.


Hydria: Chariot
Zurich Painter
Image in the Digital collection

Hydria: Regina Vasorum
Southern Italy, Campania. 4th century BC
Image in the Digital collection


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