Artibus et Historiae no. 44 (XXII)

2001, ISSN 0391-9064

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HUBERTUS GÜNTHER - Raffael's Frescoes in the Garden Loggia of the Villa Agostino Chigi and the Myth of Amor and Psyche in Painting of the Italian Renaissance

The article presents pictorial tradition of the tale of Amor and Psyche in panel and fresco painting from mid-15th till mid-16th century, the Farnesina murals being the highlight of this account. Demolished cycles, known only from written records, have also been incorporated in the paper. On the one hand, the article focuses on different ways of presenting the episodes of the tale in a painting: continuous sequences of pictures made of simple scenes; a narrative divided into two sections, one above another - thus differentiating the importance of events - on cassoni; and finally - illustration of the tale by Raphael: monumental, concentrated on the Olympic sphere. On the other hand, the essay provides a wide spectrum of iconographic references, which in the Renaissance were or could be relevant to the tale. The Neoplatonic attitude of the successors of Boccaccio can still be felt in the cassoni painting, but there it already seems to be challenged by a more sensual alternative, which gradually gained acceptance in the course of the Renaissance. According to the author, the typically humanist iconography of the subject matter made the house decorated with the tale a stylized house of Amor. It was connected - as written records testify (Niccolò da Correggio, Filippo Beroaldo) - with a moral, teaching, that one should avoid Psyche's exhausting adventures and live a calm, orderly or temperate life in seclusion. The praise of sobria vita solitaria constitutes a classic topos in the Renaissance literature devoted to life in villas and thus was an obvious example, one going perfectly with the villas of the families of d'Este (Belriguardo), Gonzaga (Palazzo del Tè) and of Agostino Chigi.

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