The Helbig family

After resigning from the German Archaelogical Institute in Rome, Wolfgang Helbig (1839-1915),  rented Villa Lante with his family in 1887. He was a versatile ancient scholar, who published ground-breaking works about the wall paintings in Pompeii, as well as the early history of Italy and Etruscan art. His work ’Führer durch die öffentlichen Sammlungen klassischer Altertümer ’ is a reference to classical antiquities found in Rome. During his time at Villa Lante, he worked as an archaeological expert for many European and American museums acting as their antique sculpture and art dealer.

His wife was called Nadine: she was born as the Russian princess Nadežda Šahovskaja, a skilled pianist and student of Clara Schumann and Franz Liszt. Together, they created a cultural salon at Villa Lante, which researchers, writers and artists from all over the world and Roman aristocrats visited. We still have descriptions by Romain Rolland and Rainer Maria Rilke of the salon. Nadine was also known as a benefactor for the poor of Trastevere.

Their son, general of the Italian air force Demetrio Helbig (1873-1954) owned Villa Lante from the beginning of 1909. He was a chemist and a pioneer of the Italian aviation, whose hot air balloon photographs of Rome from the beginning of the 20th century have remained in the history of photography.

Vanha potretti
Theodor Mommsen visiting Villa Lante in 1893.
Nadine Helbig
Nadine Helbig in loggia.