Beni Culturali Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico Artistico ed Etnoantropologico per il Polo Museale della città di Roma

Room 7 - The Altoviti Hall

 The Altoviti Hall


PV.Altoviti.Omaggio a Cerere


PV Altoviti Tevere

This room takes its name from the frescoes on the ceiling, originally painted for a room near the loggia of the Palazzo Altoviti, the Roman residence of the banker Bindo Altoviti (1491-1556), built in front of Castel Sant'Angelo, on the other side of the Tiber river, in the economic area of the city.
In 1888 Palazzo Altoviti was demolished in order to create the Tiber's embankments to avoid the frequent overflows of the river, but these paintings were preserved and re-arranged in this room, added by cardinal Pisani to the Cybo apartment as a representative room, in the middle of the XVIth century. From 1924 to 1929 the painter and restorer Torello Rupelli was hired to set up the frescoes that had been stored in Palazzo Corsini, and to paint the decorations and pilasters in the original Renaissance style.
In 2003 the vaulted ceiling was restored and now it's possible to see the original colours of the paintings and the details, that were hidden by the dirt and the oxidation of adhesives used in the previous restorations. Furthermore the paintings had several cracks due to the removal from Palazzo Altoviti. The frescoes, painted in 1553 by Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), one of the most important painters of the second half of the XVIth century, represent the myth of Ceres, goddess of fertility and prosperity. In the middle of the ceiling she is sitting on a throne holding a cornucopia and receiving gifts from priests and hand maids. According to the text of the Ovid's Fasti, Ceres taught men agriculture bringing up the prince of Eleusis Triptolemus, as it's painted in the four lateral monochrome panels: Ceres nursing Triptolemus, Ceres lights a fire torch on Triptolemus to make him immortal, Ceres sends Triptolemus to teach the agriculture to the men, Ceres leaves looking for her daughter Proserpina. Among the other panels, stand out the grotesques (typical decoration of the XVIth century inspired by the frescoes discovered in the Emperor Nero's Domus Aurea), a Battle of the Tritons and a Battle of the Centaurs.
Beside the central oval there are two other allegories connected to the Altoviti family: Florence, where they come from, is represented by the girl crowning the river Arno characterized by the lily and the Marzocco lion (Florence symbols); Rome, where they became rich, embodied by the girl crowning the river Tiber characterized by the she-wolf with Romolo e Remo (Rome symbols).
The personifications of the months are represented all around the ceiling. The year starts in March and ends in February (in clockwise direction), according to the Ancient Roman calendar and the Florentine one. On the left there is Mars symbolizing March and Venus with Cupid symbolizing April. These two pictures follow the classic iconographical tradition, according to which each month is represented by a god. The other ten months follow another iconographical criterion: the arts and crafts (for instance July is a man who reaps wheat, September is a man who gathers grapes, February is an old man who warms himself by the fire). Among the clouds, in each panel, appear the zodiacal signs (two halves in each month).
The three stucco medallions, from another room of Palazzo Altoviti, represent the gods symbolizing the Elements, guiding the chariots dragged by their sacred animals: Vulcanus and Cerberus (Fire), Neptune and the sea horses (Water), Juno and the Peacocks (Air). The fourth oval, representing Ops and the lions (Earth), was destroyed during the detach work in 1888. In the XVIth century in the niches there were the busts of Altoviti's family, lost and substituted by modern sculptures.  

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Page created 10/11/2008, last modify 25/06/2018