The Villa Farnesina is a Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...
A villa was originally an ancient Roman upper-class country house. Since its origins in the Roman villa, the idea and function of a villa have evolved considerably. After the fall of the Roman Republic, villas became small farming compounds, which were increasingly fortified in Late Antiquity,...
in the Via della Lungara, in the district of Trastevere
Trastevere is rione XIII of Rome, on the west bank of the Tiber, south of Vatican City. Its name comes from the Latin trans Tiberim, meaning literally "beyond the Tiber". The correct pronunciation is "tras-TEH-ve-ray", with the accent on the second syllable. Its logo is a golden head of a lion on a...
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...
, central Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...
The villa was built for Agostino Chigi
Agostino Andrea Chigi was an Italian banker and patron of the Renaissance.Born in Siena, he was the son of the prominent banker Mariano Chigi, a member of an ancient and illustrious house. He moved to Rome around 1487, collaborating with his father...
, a rich Sienese
Siena is a city in Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the province of Siena.The historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. It is one of the nation's most visited tourist attractions, with over 163,000 international arrivals in 2008...
banker and the treasurer of Pope Julius II
Pope Julius II
Pope Julius II , nicknamed "The Fearsome Pope" and "The Warrior Pope" , born Giuliano della Rovere, was Pope from 1503 to 1513...
. Between 1506–1510, the Sienese artist and pupil of Bramante, Baldassarre Peruzzi, aided by Giuliano da Sangallo
Giuliano da Sangallo
Giuliano da Sangallo was an Italian sculptor, architect and military engineer active during the Italian Renaissance.He was born in Florence. His father Francesco Giamberti was a woodworker and architect, much employed by Cosimo de Medici, and his brother Antonio da Sangallo the Elder and nephew...
, designed and erected the villa. The novelty of this suburban villa design can be discerned from its differences from that of a typical urban palazzo
Palazzo, an Italian word meaning a large building , may refer to:-Buildings:*Palazzo, an Italian type of building**Palazzo style architecture, imitative of Italian palazzi...
(palace). Renaissance palaces typically faced onto a street and were decorated versions of defensive castles: rectangular blocks with rusticated ground floors and enclosing a courtyard. This villa, intended to be an airy summer pavilion, presented a side towards the street and was given a U shaped plan with a five bay loggia between the arms. In the original arrangement, the main entrance was through the north facing loggia which was open. Today, visitors enter on the south side and the loggia is glazed.
Chigi also commissioned the fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...
decoration of the villa by artists such as Raphael
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino , better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur...
, Sebastiano del Piombo
Sebastiano del Piombo
Sebastiano del Piombo , byname of Sebastiano Luciani, was an Italian Renaissance-Mannerist painter of the early 16th century famous for his combination of the colors of the Venetian school and the monumental forms of the Roman school.- Biography :Sebastiano del Piombo belongs to the painting school...
, Giulio Romano
Giulio Romano was an Italian painter and architect. A pupil of Raphael, his stylistic deviations from high Renaissance classicism help define the 16th-century style known as Mannerism...
, and Il Sodoma
Il Sodoma was the name given to the Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Antonio Bazzi. Il Sodoma painted in a manner that superimposed the High Renaissance style of early 16th-century Rome onto the traditions of the provincial Sienese school; he spent the bulk of his professional life in Siena,...
. The themes were inspired by the Stanze of the poet Angelo Poliziano, a key member of the circle of Lorenzo de Medici. Best known are Raphael's frescoes on the ground floor; in the loggia depicting the classical and secular myths of Cupid and Psyche, and The Triumph of Galatea
The Triumph of Galatea is a fresco masterpiece completed in 1512 by the Italian painter Raphael for the Villa Farnesina in Rome.The Farnesina was built for the Sienese banker Agostino Chigi, one of the richest men of that age. The Farnese family later acquired and renamed the villa, smaller than...
. This, one of his few purely secular paintings, shows the near-naked nymph on a shell-shaped chariot amid frolicking attendants and is reminiscent of Botticelli
Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance...
's The Birth of Venus. This same "Galatea" loggia has a horoscope vault that displays the positions of the planets around the zodiac on the patron's birth date, 29 November 1466. The two main ceiling panels of the vault give his precise time of birth, 9:30 pm on that date.
At first floor level, Peruzzi painted the main salone with trompe-l'œil frescoes of a painted grand open loggia with city and countryside views beyond. The perspective view only works from a fixed point in the room otherwise the illusion is broken. In the adjoining bedroom, Sodema painted scenes from the life of Alexander the Great.
The villa became the property of the Farnese family in 1577 (hence the name of Farnesina). Also in the 16th century, Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...
proposed linking the Palazzo Farnese on the other side of the River Tiber, where he was working, to the Villa Farnesina with a private bridge. This was not carried through.
Later the villa belonged to the Bourbon
House of Bourbon
The House of Bourbon is a European royal house, a branch of the Capetian dynasty . Bourbon kings first ruled Navarre and France in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma...
s of Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...
and in 1861 to the Spanish Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....
in Rome. Today, owned by the Italian State, it accommodates the Accademia dei Lincei
Accademia dei Lincei
The Accademia dei Lincei, , is an Italian science academy, located at the Palazzo Corsini on the Via della Lungara in Rome, Italy....
, a long-standing and renowned Roman academy of sciences, and the Roman Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe (print room
A print room is either a room or industrial building where printing takes place, or a room in an art gallery or museum, where a collection of old master and modern prints, usually together with drawings, watercolours and photographs, are held and viewed. The latter meaning is the subject of this...
or Department for Drawings and Prints).
The main rooms of the villa, including the Loggia, are open to visitors (see
- Loggia di Psiche by Raphael
- Street Facade and Frescoes
- Garden Facade
- Satellite photo — The bracket-shaped building southwest (lower) of the Tiber, in the centre of photo, is the Villa Farnesina. The Palazzo Farnese is the massive almost square, courtyarded structure to the North of the Tiber.