In Rome, Palazzo Primoli hosts the quintessential house museum, conceived by the Italian writer and compulsive collector, Mario Praz (1896–1982). Author of “The Romantic Agony” – its original title, “Flesh, Death, the Devil, and Romantic Literature” was far more evocative – Praz was an art historian and literary critic who published dozens of influential essays and books, effectively rewriting into the canon entire artistic oeuvres and rediscovering vast unexplored intellectual histories. His “The House of Life” – saluted by Edmund Wilson as a masterpiece – is a tour of his house museum that doubles as an autobiography. His house weaves together Empire furniture, Bohemian crystals, Russian malachites, stuffed birds, and the wax sculptures illustrating the effects of the plague by Baroque sculptor Zumbo. In the department of fun facts, it’s worth mentioning that Burt Lancaster impersonated Mario Praz in Luchino Visconti’s film “Conversation Pieces”.
Images: Courtesy of Casa Museo Mario Praz