Villa Farnesina

Baldassare Peruzzi; frescoes by Raphael, Giulio Romano, and Assistants
1509-11; frescoes, 1518-19

The front facade and entrance

This small two-story palace on the banks of the Tiber was built for the Sienese papal banker Agostino Chigi as a residence for his mistress. Later it was purchased by the Farnese family (thus the name) and connected by a bridge across the Tiber to the huge Palazzo Farnese on the opposite bank.


The end of the front facade and the side

The plan is "U"-shaped. The garden facade has two outer projecting wings and a large arched loggia in the recessed center--the Loggia di Psiche (see below). The exterior walls are brick although they were originally stuccoed and decorated with delicate fresco designs. The slender pilasters are brick as well.


The terra cotta frieze crowning the second story

Cherubs with swags alternate with small attic windows.
The interior is richly frescoed. The two most famous rooms are the Sala di Galatea with Raphael's Galatea and the Sala delle Prospettive, combining real and painted architecture as well as depicting an illusionistic view of Rome.

Details of the Loggia di Psiche: Psyche Received on Olympus (eastern half of ceiling)

The garden loggia (1518-19) has frescoes painted by Raphael and his assistants. Painted bands of foliage line each of the groins in the vaulting. Two frescoes on the ceiling depict incidents in the story of Cupid and Psyche which took place in heaven.


Details of the Loggia di Psiche: center--Cupid Pointing out Psyche to the three Graces by Giulio Romano

(See also Romano's Mannerist palace, Palazzo del Tè.)

The frescoes throughout this villa evoke the pagan and classical world. This villa and its decoration illustrate Chigi's desire to be associated with the patricians of ancient Rome.

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