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The first part of this book constitutes a route through four places that were once inhabited by human beings, four houses where the fate of painting, its peak and its fall: Villa of Livia in Prima Porta, Villa Farnesina, Palazzo Borghese and Mario Praz’s house in Palazzo Primoli. If the first part is and elegy, the second one is a pamphlet against the process of ‘gimcracking’ of the artistic experience, which implies a loss of its rejoicing carnality in favour of that abstract, stark ‘feeling of ownership’ of which Marx talked about and which is worsening with the modern mania of buying and accumulating all sorts of artistic knick-knacks. From room to room the author unveils the dismal aspects of that swindle of art collecting