alessandro ludovisi

Ludovico Ludovisi

Ludovico Cardinal Ludovisi (October 22 or 27, 1595 – November 18, 1632) was an Italian cardinal and statesman of the Roman Catholic Church. He was a connoisseur who formed a famous collection of antiquities, housed at the Villa Ludovisi, Rome.


Ludovico Ludovisi was born at Bologna, a part of the Papal States.

Following in the footsteps of his uncle Alessandro Ludovisi, he was trained at the Jesuit Collegio Germanico of Rome, and went on to the University of Bologna, where he received his doctorate in canon law, February 25, 1615. When Alessandro Ludovisi was acclaimed pope February 9, 1621, taking the name Gregory XV, Ludovico was made cardinal within three days, though he was only 25. The following month he was made archbishop of Bologna though he remained in Rome. His uncle had great faith in his judgment and energy, and in need of a strong and able assistant in governing the Papal States. On the same day, Orazio, a brother of the pope, was put at the head of the pontifical army. Gregory XV was not disappointed in his nephew. As the Catholic Encyclopedia avers, "Ludovico, it is true, advanced the interests of his family in every possible way, but he also used his brilliant talents and his great influence for the welfare of the Church, and was sincerely devoted to the pope." (Catholic Encyclopedia).

He was sent as legate in Fermo in 1621 and in Avignon, 1621-1623. He served briefly as Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church (April 19, 1621 to June 7, 1623). He was also prefect of the Prefect of the S.C. of Propaganda Fide from 1622 to 1632 and Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church (1623 until 1632). He died in Bologna in 1632.

Cardinal Ludovisi is remembered as a connoisseur and patron of arts. He paid for the construction of the Jesuit Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio and Palazzo Ludovisi (now Palazzo Montecitorio), where Bernini was his architect. He rapidly assembled a holding of vineyards and small plots to create the Villa Ludovisi a vast complex of gardens and buildings assembled from private owners and the Carmelite brothers of Santa Maria in Traspontina. The Ludovisi Ares, a spectacular discovery of 1622, found its way quickly to the collection, soon enlarged with purchases from Cardinal Altemp's collection, all housed at the splendid Villa Ludovisi, which he surrounded with gardens on the Monte Pincio near Porta Pinciana, in the so-called "Gardens of Sallust" on the site where Julius Caesar and his heir, Augustus, had had their villas. The sculpture was lightly restored by the young Gian Lorenzo Bernini and joined the Dying Gaul in the Cardinal's gallery. He employed Alessandro Algardi to restore other finds, some of which were unearthed in the grounds of the Villa itself. Guercino painted frescoes at the villa, and Cardinal Ludovisi's house poet was Alessandro Tassoni.

At the casino of the Villa, Cardinal Ludovisi employed Carlo Maderno to rebuild a simple house further up the hill. In a small ground-floor gallery of the casino, Guercino frescoed a ceiling with his Chariot of Aurora, 1621-1623. It remains one of the most famous painted decors of Rome.

His cousin, Cardinal Niccolò Albergati-Ludovisi, was made cardinal in 1645.

By the end of the 19th century, Villa Ludovisi, considered among the most beautiful villas of Rome, was destroyed and its beautiful gardens were divided into lots and sold by its last owner, the Prince of Piombino. The Via Veneto was driven through its grounds, part of which are occupied by the American Embassy, and the rione Ludovisi took shape, borrowing its name from the Cardinal and his Villa.


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