Sunday, October 4, 2020



Via della Lungara 230

1506/10 plus additional works until 1520, a masterpiece by Baldassarre Peruzzi (1481/1536) for the banker Agostino Chigi (1466/1520) from Siena just like Peruzzi

Agostino Chigi became rich with the alum from Allumiere, necessary at the time for tanning hides and dyeing fabrics

He used to organize splendid banquets at the end of which he would invite his guests to throw the silver plates into the Tiber River, only to secretly collect them later with nets

Once Agostino Chigi invited Leo X Medici (1513/21) for lunch in rooms covered with tapestries and sumptuous carpets. To the reproach of the Pope for the excessive glitz, he said that his friendship was really tested by the modesty of the place which, as the tapestries and carpets were removed, proved to be a stable big enough for one hundred horses plus staff

In 1590 it passed to the Farnese family to which it owes the name Farnesina

In 1714 it passed to the Bourbons of Naples

In 1861 it passed to the ambassador Bermudez di Castro, who restored it

In 1884 the walls by the Tiber were built and part of the gardens, stables and lodge on the river maybe by Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael) were destroyed

It finally became property of the Italian state in 1927

"The exciting program of building a suburban residence suited to the refined social life of the owner, suggested to the architect the free floor plan of the building, with two wings protruding on either side of the front and the space they delimited, conceived as a scene for outdoor shows, in an original fusion of the canonical types of the palace, the villa and the theater. The influence of the ancient manifested in the desire to create the same continuity between nature and architecture of the palaces and villas described by Latin writers. Peruzzi opened two loggias and through direct access to the banks of the Tiber, facilitated the natural landscape into the architectural organization of the whole" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

The exterior was originally decorated with magnificent paintings of which only traces were revealed on the north side by recent restoration works

Ground Floor



Frescoes "Fable of Cupid and Psyche" with, at the center, "Council of the Gods" and "Wedding Feast", in the spandrels "Episodes of the story taking place in the sky", in the pendentives "Genes with attributes of divinity" painted in 1517 from drawings by Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael) (1483/1520)

They were made almost entirely by Raphael’s pupils: Giulio Pippi aka Giulio Romano (1499/1546), Giovanni Francesco Penni (about 1496/1528), Raffaellino del Colle (about 1490/1566) and Giovanni Ricamatore aka Giovanni da Udine (1487/1564) who designed the festoons

During the years 1693/94 they were retouched by Carlo Maratta (1625/1713)

"Concave triangles are so admirably filled up with stories of Psyche, to give the impression of windows behind which figures pass, and not areas whose bizarre shape would create almost insurmountable obstacles" (Bernard Berenson)

"The field of action consists of the ceiling vaults; the composition of the individual scenes would then be subject to the existing architectural system. And the latter was assured from the beginning through the greater effect of the tectonic change in a freer pattern, semi-naturalistic: with the pattern of the frame made out with garlands of fruit, whose implementation is left to the almost Nordic sensitivity of Giovanni da Udine, the character of gay relaxation, that knowingly was given to the style of the villa, was established" (Hermann Voss)

Among the various fruits in the decoration was painted also an eggplant with the obvious form of a male phallus entering a fig tree with the obvious aspect of the female sex

Here Agostino Chigi married his beloved Venetian courtesan Francesca Ordeasca in 1519

"G.J. Hoogewerff convincingly demonstrated that the decoration of the Loggia of Psyche would have had originally included a series of tapestries representing the episodes of the story taking place on earth and in the underworld. He also identified in a series of prints linked to Raphael, the compositions that were the basis of this series of tapestries, which perhaps had remained in draft form, or lost in the ordeal suffered by the villa since the sack of Rome. Nevertheless it is significant that the game of deception between fact and fiction, is complicated in this cycle thanks to this additional element offered by the presence of real tapestries alongside the fake ones painted with the fresco technique" (Antonio Pinelli)



On the north side and, in part, on the east side "Stories of Hercules", on the other sides "Mythological Stories" about 1508 by Baldassare Peruzzi (1481/1536)


Arches that gave the garden closed in 1650

Retouched frescoes in 1863, restored 1969/73


"Astrological and mythological themes" that make up the horoscope of Agostino Chigi about 1511 by Baldassare Peruzzi


"Galatea on a Chariot" 1513/14 masterpiece by Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael) (1483/1520)

"The subject refers to the description of an ancient painting given by the Greek rhetorician Philostratus, and taken up by Poliziano. The free unfolding of the body of the Nereid in the encounter with the sea air, the vital movement of the other figures show that Raphael has been able to fully understand the sense of fullness of physical life transmitted from classical myth, contributing to the humanistic revaluation of the earthly world and starting up the fortune of mythological fables in art" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

On the left "Polyphemus" 1512/13 by Sebastiano Luciani aka Sebastiano del Piombo (1485/1547) who also made the lunettes with scenes from Ovid's Metamorphoses 1511/12: "Theseus, Filomele, Agraulo and Erse, Daedalus and Icarus, the Fall of Phaeton, Juno on the winged chariot, Scilla, Orizia"

"Monochrome Head" traditionally attributed to Michelangelo Buonarroti, but actually painted by Baldassare Peruzzi

Grotesque paintings on the pilasters maybe by Domenico Beccafumi (1486/1551)

Other landscapes painted about 1650

Piano superiore


Fake loggias

"Views of Rome", above the fireplace "Forge of Vulcan", frieze atop the walls "Mythological scenes" 1518/19 by Baldassare Peruzzi

Some of the views were damaged with graffiti by the Lansquenets during the sack of Rome in 1527. One of the graffiti describes Rome as Babylon

In this room Agostino Chigi held his wedding banquet



Century with grotesque and mythological subjects


Stories of Alexander the Great: "Marriage of Alexander and Roxanne with Hymen and Hephaestion on the right", "Alexander and the family of Darius", "Alexander taming Bucephalus" and "Forge of Vulcan" about 1517 by Giovanni Antonio Bazzi aka Sodoma (1477/1549)

The paintings were retouched by Carlo Maratta (1625/1713) and restored in the years 1974/76

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