The collection of one of the great families of Rome's aristocracy (spelled either Pamphili or Pamphilj), now headed by two half-British siblings, is a very personal one: hung according to an inventory of 1760, some extraordinarily good paintings are packed in with the occasional bad copy to give a unique view of the tastes of late 18th-century Rome. The entrance is through the state apartments planned by Camillo Pamphili in the mid-16th century. The nephew of Pope Innocent X, Camillo escaped the College of Cardinals to marry fabulously wealthy Olimpia Aldobrandini, to whom the oldest part of the palace belonged, and who had already been left a widow by a member of the Borghese family.
The family chapel was designed in 1689 by Carlo Fontana but heavily altered in the 18th and 19th centuries when the trompe l'oeil ceiling was added. The star turns are the corpses of two martyrs: St Justin, under the altar, and St Theodora, visible to the right of the door. The main galleries are on all four sides of the central courtyard. Hard-nosed Olimpia is shown in Algardi's stylised portrait bust by the windows in the first gallery. Velázquez's portrait of a no-nonsense Pope Innocent X is the highlight of the collection.
With Bernini's splendid bust next to it, it's difficult to see how the vital presence of Innocent X could be bettered. At the end of the Galleria degli Specchi (Gallery of Mirrors) are four small rooms ordered by century. In the 17th-century room, Caravaggio is represented by Rest on the Flight into Egypt and Penitent Magdalene. The 16th-century room includes Titian's shameless Salome, and a Portrait of Two Men by Raphael. In the 15th-century room is a beautifully tragic Deposition by Hans Memling. At the end of the third gallery, steps lead to the Salone Aldobrandini, where ancient sculpture is on display (much of it damaged when snow brought down the ceiling in the 1950s). On the way, keep an eye out for Guercino's St Agnes failing to catch fire and Pieter Breugel the Elder's northern view of an imaginary sea battle in the bay of Naples. Sadly, the private apartments are closed indefinitely.