Whereas most prominent scholars, such as Fabio Benzi, Paolo D’Ancona, and Julian Kliemann have indicated that the decorations of Rome’s Villa Farnesina were painted in honor of banker Agostino Chigi’s passionate love for his wife and in celebration of their wedding, I will prove otherwise. By looking in depth at the frescoes decorating two rooms, the Loggia of Cupid and Psyche and the Hall of the Perspective Views, we may find a new interpretation or explanation for the subject matter that links the two spaces and celebrates the rising social status of the banker instead of matrimonial bliss.
My paper will outline much of Chigi’s public life and personal affairs during the construction of the villa and its decoration along with some of his personal correspondence. His letters demonstrate close connections with men of power and renown as well as a keen sense of self-confidence. Pope Julius II, whose papal name came from none other than Julius Caesar, even adopted Chigi as his son.
Our extravagant financier also identified with the Roman emperors and, in particular, the ancient ruler Augustus Caesar. Chigi was not a humble man; when one reexamines these Farnesina frescoes in this historical context, we can see that the iconography may not simply allude to Chigi’s wedding. Instead, the two rooms function as a painted panegyric for the well-off banker, visually and physically lifting him up among the gods until he reaches the same revered plane as an emperor of ancient Rome.
Calla Holmes-Robbins, ’13
Majors: Art History, Classical Studies
Sponsor: Christina Morris Penn-Goetsch