Between now and February 15 next year, art lovers in Paris can visit la MusÃ©e Maillol to experience the museumâ€™s newest exhibition, Les Borgias et Leur Temps (The Borgias and Their Times).
Regardless of whether their notoriety was deserved, or merely propaganda put about by their enemies, it cannot be denied that the family had some remarkable characters among its number, and that the mere mention of the Borgia name conjures up images of political intrigue, power struggles, and corruption.
In spite of all this, however, they were nevertheless great patrons of the arts, as well as being an enlightened and politically savvy family. Rodgrigo Borgia, for example, who became Pope Alexander VI, had enough nous, to understand that if the Church was responsible for the deaths of Jews during expulsions from the Iberian Peninsula, it was bad PR to have images of The Saviour looking like the very people dying at the hands of the Catholics. He therefore ordered the destruction of art in which Jesus appeared Jewish, and commissioned new paintings to be produced, portraying the very white, very European image of Christ, which has stayed with us for half a millennium. The irony of it that his son, Cesare, allegedly the nastiest and most ruthless of the Borgia, was the model for this renaissance example of whitewashing the Messiah.
The Maillol Museumâ€™s exhibition not only features art depicting the Borgia family by the renaissance Masters themselves â€“ Leonardo, Raphael, Michaelangelo, Bellini, etc. – but also that of their great enlightened contemporaries, including philosophers, scientists, and theologians.
The exhibition is open daily (including holidays) between 10.30am and 7pm, with late night viewings until 9.30pm on Fridays. Audio guides are available in French, English, and Italian.
59/61 rue de Grenelle
DistrictÂ :Â Eiffel Tower – Invalides
MÃ©tro: Rue du Bac
Bus: 63, 68, 69, 83, 84, 94, 95
VÃ©libÂ : bd Raspail