Saturday, February 28, 2015


Stufetta e Loggetta del Card. Bibbiena

Only two rooms left of the apartment built on the third floor of the Vatican Palace for the secretary of Leo X Medici (1513/21), Cardinal Bernardo Dovizi aka Bibbiena

Decoration of the school of Raphael in 1516 influenced by the decorations of the Domus Aurea

STUFETTA (Room of the Stove)

Small caldarium (heater) of 2.5 m (8.2 feet) per side with hollow space in the walls for the steam
Paintings “Cupids in chariots” below and “Myth of Venus” at the top

On the vault “Ornamental and mythological scenes” alluding to the power of Love rather inappropriate for the bathroom of a cardinal

LOGGETTA (Small Loggia)

Corridor of 16 m (52.5 feet) with decorations “Myth of Apollo and Marsyas” and grotesque in compendiario Roman style (stylized style)

Cardinal Bibbiena was a powerful prelate, tied to the Medici family and especially to the Medici Pope Leo X who entrusted him with important diplomatic missions in France

He wished that Raphael, who had portrayed him in a famous painting now in the Galleria Palatina in Florence, had married his niece Maria Bibbiena, and, as reported by Vasari, he haunted him to give him her as wife
In the Pantheon next to Raphael's tomb there is a memorial plaque to Maria Bibbiena with the words To Maria Bibbiena wife of him, who, with her death, prevented the happy wedding and before it was taken still maiden
The body of Mary, however, is not in the Pantheon, and from Raphael's letters one can infer that the great artist wasn't even thinking about getting married


Loggia di Raffaello
The LOGGE VATICANE were begun in the years 1512/18 by Donato Bramante (1444/1514) who could only built the first floor (Doric order) with decorations by Giovanni Ricamatore aka Giovanni da Udine (1487/1564)

They were continued after Bramante's death by Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael) (1483/1520) who built the central dome of the first floor and the other two floors

SECOND FLOOR (Ionic order)

Known as Loggia di Raffaello, it has thirteen bays (twelve with the Old Testament, one with the New) with fifty-two panels using cloister vaults instead of the domes designed by Bramante to increase the surface to be frescoed
Raphael gave the scheme and provided the drawings for the first eight spans and its influence is visible up to the tenth

1) Genesis: “Separation of Light from Darkness”, “Separation of land from the waters”, “Creation of the sun and moon”, “Creation of the Animals”

2) Adam and Eve: “Creation of Eve”, “Original Sin”, “Expulsion from Eden”, “Work of Adam and Eve”

3) Noah: “Building the Ark”, “Flood”, “Out of the ark”, “Sacrifice of Noah”

4) Abraham and Loth: “Abraham and Melchizedek”, “God's Promise of a long posterity”, “Meeting with the three angels”, “Escape from Sodom”

5) Isaac: “God appears to Isaac”, “Isaac and Rebecca spied upon by Abimelech”, “Blessing of Jacob”, “Birthright to Esau”

6) Jacob: “Jacob's Dream”, “Meeting with Rachel at the Well”, “Covenant with Laban”, “Jacob's Journey to Canaan”

7) Joseph: “Explanation of the dreams to his brothers”, “Joseph sold by his brothers”, “Temptation by Potiphar's Wife”, “Explanation of the dreams to Pharaoh”

8) Moses: “Moses saved from the waters”, “Burning Bush”, “Passage of the Red Sea”, Mmiracle of the spring water from the cliff”

9) Moses: “Delivery of the tablets of the Law”, “Adoration of the Golden Calf”, “Column of smoke”, “Presentation to the Jews of the tablets of the Law”

10) Joshua: “Passage of the Jordan”, “Fall of Jericho”, “Joshua stopping the sun and the moon”, “Division of the Promised Land”

11) David: “Samuel consecrating David”, “Fight with Goliath”, “Triumph on the Assyrian”, “Toilet of Bathsheba”

12) Solomon: “Consecration of Solomon”, “Judgment of Solomon”, “Meeting with the Queen of Sheba”, “Construction of the Temple”

13) Christ: “Nativity”, “Epiphany”, “Baptism”, “Last Supper”

Although the precise attributions are debated, they were executed by eleven disciples of Raphael: Giovanni da Udine (1487/1564), Giulio Pippi aka Giulio Romano (1499/1546), Giovanni Francesco Penni (about 1496/1528), Pietro Bonaccorsi aka Perin del Vaga (1501/47), Polidoro Caldara aka Polidoro da Caravaggio (about 1495/1543), Raffaellino Del Colle (about 1490/1566), Tommaso Vincidor (d. 1536) Pellegrino da Modena (about 1464/1523), Vincenzo Tamagni (about 1492/1530), Guillaume de Marcillat (about 1469/1529) e Pedro Machuca (d. 1550)

Raphael would have wanted to integrate architecture and painting with sculptures consisting in the stucco reliefs and ancient statues he intended to place in the aediculae

“Raphael is the absolute greatest painter of the past millennium, and the Loggias are his most significant legacy” (Antonio Paolucci)

“The great festoons by Raphael with still lives in the Vatican Loggias denote that the still life genre was gaining independence, according to a process that, after its disappearance, was rediscovered in Lombardy, and especially in Rome, around 1590” (Federico Zeri)

“The artistic influence exerted by the loggias was spread over three centuries, until the neoclassical time, and they constituted a source of inspiration for countless artists interested in the art of decoration and restoration of the old. These artists worked in a dimension that can be defined choral - where it is difficult to single out the individual personalities who painted side by side, creating almost a common language - created for the Pope in a private setting, for its intellectual digressions, which could revive the old through architecture, painting and the many statues that adorned the gallery, forming a sort of private museum” (Andrea Pomella)

The architect Giacomo Quarenghi (1744/1817) from Bergamo designed and built in record time in the first half of the eighties of 1700s for the Empress Catherine of Russia in the Palace of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg a Loggia that was the exact copyof the Loggia of Raphael

In Rome, the painter Cristoforo Unterberger (1732/98), a pupil of Anton Raphael Mengs, made copies of the frescoes along with Felice Giani (1758/1823), G.B. Dall'Era, Andrea Nesserthaler, Peter Wenzel and others

Catherine had never seen the Loggia in Rome and she had admired only on the prints by Giovanni Volpato

It is frustrating to find out that in St. Petersburg the copy of the Loggia is one of the great attractions of the Hermitage, whereas here the original Loggia hasn't even been open to the public for decades

III FLOOR (Corinthian order)

Painted by Giovanni da Udine (1487/1564)

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Built for Pope Nicholas V Parentucelli (1447/55) and originally decorated by various artists including Piero della Francesca

In 1508 Pope Julius II Della Rovere (1503/13) summoned for a new decoration Pietro Vannucci aka Pietro Perugino (about 1450/1523), Giovanni Antonio Bazzi aka Sodoma (1477/1549), Baldassare Peruzzi (1481/1536) and Lorenzo Lotto (about 1480/1556), but he later dismissed them all and gave the job to the young artist known as Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael) (1483/1520) who worked here in the years 1509/17

“In the commitment to the Vatican Stanze Raphael summarized the ancient thought reworked in the light of the humanistic-Christian doctrine. The complex iconographic program was probably conceived by a scholar of the Roman Curia (the names, among others, of Ludovico Ariosto and Celio Calcagnini have been mentioned) and intended to reaffirm the central role of the church” (Andrea Pomella)


Sala di Costantino - Room of Constantine


In the center “Triumph of Christianity”, “Personifications of Italian provinces and continents”, “Virtues and symbolic attributes” with explanatory inscriptions 1582/85 by the Sicilian Tommaso Laureti (about 1530/1602) pupil of Sebastiano del Piombo

Tommaso Laureti conceived with Giambologna the Fountain of Neptune in Bologna and painted also the Room of the Captains in the Capitoline Museums

“Laureti adopted here a neoraffaellesque language very close to the first Roman Mannerism, also for cohesion with the frescoes on the walls, although a few roundels with prospective papal emblems are typical of his illusionist abilities. The central box with the Triumph of the Cross over the Gentiles' idols, carried out under Sixtus V, was probably adapted to the needs of the new pope and, in its essence symbolic entrusted solely to the spatial structure, it effectively becomes the centerpiece of the decoration” (Monica Grasso - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)


“Roman mosaic” of the third century from the Lateran area


Completed in 1525, almost all decorated after the death of Raphael by Giulio Pippi aka Giulio Romano (1499/1546) with the help of Giovanni Francesco Penni (about 1496/1528) and Raffaellino del Colle (about 1490/1566)

“Figures of Popes enthroned and virtues”

“Baptism of Constantine” and “Donation of Constantine” are attributed to Giovanni Francesco Penni

“It is curious to note that in recent years Raphael is the first creator of two genres that cease after his death to reappear again between late 1500 and early 1600: the still life and the battle. The Battle of Milvian Bridge represents a type of painting that, in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, especially with Cavalier d'Arpino, will become an archetype from which a genre will be born destined to great success in Italy and throughout Europe” (Federico Zeri)

“Complex correlation of levels that increase in accordance with their ambiguous broken rhythms and do not allow the viewer to locate a fixed point of reference. The derivation from Roman iconography is obvious (on the left Ludovisi Sarcophagus, in the center Relief with Trajan's deeds from the Arch of Constantine), but the relationship with the old is solved rhetorically speaking, according to an interpretation that plays down the violence of action to recover the symbolic value of the whole scene” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

“Part of the nature of Giulio Romano was the not so common gift to represent the moving form, the interest in ancient culture and his remarkable formal skill, characteristics that made him suitable as any other for mythology and ancient history. His talent led him resolutely on the path that he had been beating working actively to the frescoes of the third room, i.e. pushing him towards powerful movement (...) and towards strong effects of modeling in the interest of a powerfully accentuated three-dimensionality” (Hermann Voss)