- Donatella L. Sparti
Italian family of collectors. The family, whose origins were in the Umbrian town of Cesi, settled in Rome in the 15th century. In the 16th century they were celebrated for the splendour of the Giardino dei Cesi, a sculpture garden at their palace at the foot of the Gianicolo. This was established by Cardinal Paolo Emilio Cesi (b Rome, 1481; d Rome, 5 Aug 1537), who adorned the garden with antique (and contemporary) statuary. It was inherited by his brother Federico Cesi (b ?Rome, ?1 July 1500; d Rome, 28 Jan 1565), who became Cardinal in 1544 and who reorganized the garden and the palazzo so that it seemed like ‘the entrance to Paradise’ (Aldrovandi). He restored the statues and, above all, constructed an antique sculpture museum (destr. with the palazzo, 1940) with a Greek-cross plan, designed (1556–64) by Guidetto Guidetti and intended for small but precious pieces: it was one of the first buildings constructed purposely as a ...