Many people contribute to society in exceptional ways. Some choose to dedicate their lives to the service of others or to protect animals and nature. Some become scientists and advance human knowledge. Those who become patrons of the arts are helping to preserve the history and culture of the world. Montblanc has chosen very few people to honor with their own pen. Yet, on occasion, they find someone so singular that they decide to design a luxury writing instrument inspired by their life and work.
Scipione Borghese the Scandalous
Scipione Borghese was a late 16th and early 17th century Cardinal in Italy, but more importantly, he was also a great lover and protector of art. Montblanc has honored the late Cardinal with his own Patron of Art, limited edition pen. His contributions to art preservation were nothing short of spectacular. However, while he was alive, Scipione's personal life and methods of collection were the talk of the town. He was often the subject of scandal and ridicule in his time.
Regardless of his methods and personal affairs, Cardinal Borghese was personally responsible for a great deal of new (at the time) art being created. Through his efforts to collect, he also became responsible for the preservation of uncountable pieces of (now) priceless art. If you're not a student of art history, perhaps this will bring some perspective: Scipione is personally responsible for commissioning the statue of David. David is one of the most famous sculptures on Earth along with a handful of other often referenced classics.
Known best for his unusual tastes, Scipione had a reputation as a man with an eye for beauty and a talent for acquiring it whether it was available or not. He famously used his influence with his uncle, Pope Paul V, to achieve his ends more than once. Most notably, he took a hundred and five works from the Cavalier d’ Arpino in place of late tax payments, and a Raphael Deposition from the church of San Francesco di Perugia by Motu Proprio. At least San Francesco di Perugia got a couple of paintings out of the deal. Most of his 'requisitions,' were at least on the surface technically legal. Unfortunately, Scipione is even rumored to have arranged an outright theft of privately owned art.
The Other Thing About Scipione Borghese...
Among other men, Scipione had a particular 'fondness,' for Stefano Pignatelli. Stefano held such sway over him that it's been assumed that they were lovers. Scipione was even willing to risk irking his powerful palpal uncle by bringing Stefano Pignatelli along with him to court. The two were clearly attached, and Scipione took all of Pignatelli's advice so seriously that other courtiers were jealous and urged the Pope to get rid of him. Instead, he ordained Stefano as a Cardinal himself to keep a closer eye on him. The unusual companion faced the Roman Inquisitors twice and won both times by proving his influence was not 'undue.'
Other than his apparent longtime lover Stefano, Borghese did give additional indications of his preference. His collection of art is known for its scope, but also it's (nonexclusive) focus on homoerotic imagery. Additionally, espionage reports of Giovanni Antonio Marta state that he loved a nobleman "to the point of insanity," and would stop at nothing to have him ordained with a Cardinals hat. There's also mention of murder. Scipione's servants killed an eighteen-year-old boy after he left Scipione's bed one night.
Gardens, Churches & Works of Art
Whatever his methods, one thing is undoubtedly clear, Scipione Borghese was a serious lover of the arts. He was a patron to the famed painter Caravaggio. Borghese is also nearly singlehandedly responsible for the discovery and patronage of Bernini. Over the years the two became such good friends that Bernini sculpted two busts of Scipione at the request of the Pope. The first began to crack in the face, so he made a second copy in just two weeks.
More than just his collection of paintings and sculpture, Borghese considered it his duty to restore and continue to embellish the churches for which he was personally responsible. (Not every church, but those he oversaw). His contributions to the art and adornment of many were admired, though not universally. He also worked to create garden areas in the middle of Rome. These were places where one could find the peace and tranquility of nature and reflect or escape the hustle and bustle of the thriving city.
A Very Fine Pen
How do you honor a man who helped to create and preserve so much of Italy's art? Montblanc is also known for its eye and exquisite artistic details. They've managed to extract a few crucial elements of Cardinal Scipione Borghese and include them in one stunning writing instrument, such as the Cardinal himself might have wished to collect.
At a substantial 81.8 grams, this pen feels the weight of its significant historical inspiration. Few pens boast a granite barrel, but it seems only too evident that a pen honoring Cardinal Borghese must include marble. His love of beautiful statuary is carried over to this pen in miniature. The cap, which screws down, and other pieces are ruthenium coated brass, and the unique clip boasts a stunning tear shaped smoky quartz stone.
Sculptural elements in the metalwork remind us subtly of cathedral architecture, reminding us of how many churches now hold artifacts placed there through his patronage. The Nib is eighteen carat gold with engraving for a smooth finish to whatever you write with this pen.
Art itself is daring and a bit scandalous at times. Cardinal Borghese appreciated it and admired the arts so much he had the most extensive collection of Italian art until the 1800s. He stored and cherished so much art that his collection is still one of the best in the world. It takes an extraordinary person to love sculpture and painting so entirely that they will steal to get it. While we don't condone that sort of behavior, we can certainly understand how someone could feel so passionate about beauty. Those looking for the right pen to express the fire they feel inside will love it. Collectors who wish to add a truly original and conversation-worthy piece should look for this pen. The Montblanc Patron of Art Hommage à Scipione Borghese Limited Edition 4810 is lovely enough to tempt anyone.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson