Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Begun in 1622 by Carlo Maderno (1556/1629) for the Ludovisi family
He modified the courtyard of a building they had bought in the previous year from the Colonna family
The original structure was a turreted building of the fifteenth century. It belonged to the Benzoni family
1664 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680) for Flavio Chigi, who had taken it in usufruct in 1661 and had expanded it by buying the Mandosi Palace overlooking Via del Corso
In the years 1745/50 it was extended doubling the sides and in the middle (with sixteen pillars instead of the eight by Bernini and two gates instead of one) by Nicola Salvi (1697/1751) and his assistant Luigi Vanvitelli (1700/73) for the Odescalchi family
They had bought in the same year, even if they had lived here in rent since 1693
“The additions of Salvi did not prejudice the revolutionary importance of Bernini's design. Various architectural elements were combined here in a project of true nobility and grandeur. Bernini had found the formula for the baroque aristocrat palace. And the immense influence of this building extended far beyond the borders of Italy, for example in Vienna and Leningrad” (Rudolf Wittkower)
1887/89 Raffaele Ojetti (1845/1924) who repaired the damage from a fire in 1887
The palace is still owned by the Odescalchi family and they rent it out partially
The Odescalchis own and keep in the palace a stunning work of art:
“Conversion of St. Paul” 1600/01 by Michelangelo Merisi aka Caravaggio (1571/1610), oil on wood of cypress for Monsignor Tiberio Cerasi
This is the first version, mysteriously never put in place, of the canvas placed in 1605 in the Cerasi Chapel in S. Maria del Popolo
“Work of incomparable beauty, still relevant to the first ways of Caravaggio, it was all inserted in the Mannerist style, filled with a golden light that emphasizes a warm and rich palette of color. Yet some deep dark tones hint the revolution that the painter will bring about shortly thereafter in painting. The Odescalchi Conversion shines with its own light, it is made with a smooth and refined painting style that can fully respond to the narrative component of the subject which was inspired, as a homage from the artist to the more famous Conversion frescoed by Michelangelo in the Pauline Chapel. The turmoil of the characters, the wild horse, the Christ that flows from heaven and, not least, the astonishing parallelism, spotted by Cristina Acidini Luchinat, of the gestures of the group of angels in the upper right of Michelangelo's fresco with the angel holding the Christ of Caravaggio's Conversion are clear evidence” (Francesco Buranelli)

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