The room takes its name from the famous sculpture of the Herrmaphrodite, a Roman copy from the second century C.E. of an original by Polycles currently in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Discovered in 1609 during the excavations for the construction of the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, it was restored in 1620 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), who transformed the original natural marble support into a mattress on which the figure is languidly resting.
After the sale of the archaeological collection to Napoleon in 1807, the Herrmaphrodite was eplaced by a similar copy in Parian marble from the second century C.E. restored byAndrea Bergondi (1721?-1789?), who imitated Bernini’s model by also creating a mattress.
The paintings on the ceiling depict the myth of Hermaphrodite, the son of Hermes and Aphrodite. According to Ovid’s poetic account in his Metamorphoses (book IV), the double nature of the youth was determined by his forced union with the nymph Salmacis. The oiI paintings on canvas are the work of Nicola Buonvicini (18th century), who executed them in 1781-82 during the renovation of the palazzina. The panel decoration and mural painting are by Giovan Battista Marchetti (1730-1800), while the sixteen stucco putti are by Vincenzo Pacetti (1746-1820).
The room hosts other ancient sculptures of considerable value and interest, such as the Head of a Kore in Parian marble dating from the fourth century B.C.E. and executed in Magna Graecia, and the Porphyry Basin from the second-third century C.E., probably executed for Hadrian’s Mausoleum, subsequently used as a fountain in the park, and then reworked in 1779 according to a design by the architect Asprucci (1723-1808).
The floor is embellished by ancient mosaics from Castellarcione, a Borghese estate near the via Tiburtina, depicting Fishing Scenes, which can be dated between the first century B.C.E. and the fourth century C.E.
The decoration of the room is completed by four oil paintings from the sixteenth century depicting landscapes by Paul Brill (1554-1626) and assistants and by Frederick van Valckenborch (1566-1623), and the extraordinary Alabaster Tortoise Vase by Antoine Guillaume Grandjacquet (1731-1801), displayed over the statue of the Hermaphrodite.