An Elderly American Tourist Fell Into—and Ripped—a 17th-Century Religious Painting by Guido Reni at Rome’s Galleria Borghese

Other visitors have also tripped over the painting's raised platform.

Guido Reni's St Francis receiving the stigmata (1610-12) was damaged when an elderly tourist fell against the painting on Wednesday afternoon. © Galleria Borghese.

Living the nightmare of any museum visitor who has brushed up too close to a painting at an exhibition, a tourist in Rome has fallen onto the Baroque artist Guido Reni’s St. Francis receiving the stigmata (1610–12). Officials have described the damage as a “slight superficial tear” of one-and-a-half inches in the painting’s lower section.

Guards cordoned off the area immediately after the incident, which took place at the Galleria Borghese on Wednesday afternoon. The tourist has been identified as an elderly American woman and the museum issued a statement suggesting that she may have been feeling ill.

Italy’s Corriere della Sera has suggested instead that the fall may have happened due to the work’s installation on a low platform, which allegedly caused a journalist to trip at the show’s opening. A few members of the visiting public also apparently reported similar incidents.

A protective adhesive has been applied over the tear on the painting, which is still on display. © Galleria Borghese.

The work is one of 30 featured in the exhibition “Guido Reni and Rome: Nature and Devotion,” which opened on March 1. It had been loaned by the Museo di Roma at the Palazzo Braschi and remains on display with a protective adhesive covering the tear, a conservation procedure known as “facing.”

The exhibition, which runs until May 1, is the first in a new international series dedicated to Guido Reni. It is centered around his Country Dance (c. 1605), a painting acquired by the museum in 2020 that re-enters its collection after being sold off in the 19th century. It is hoped that the work will help complete the telling of the artist’s early years staying in Rome, when he was engaged with pastoral themes, as well as highlighting the importance of Borghese patronage.

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