the frescoes, architecture and history of the Villa

The Frescoes in the Villa

The Villa is rich in decorative painting which can be divided into three groups, corresponding to the main changes of hands that trace its history.

In the Room of the Cardinal Virtues (Prudence, Courage, Justice and Temperance) Night and Day rooms painted by Agostino Ciampelli, the visitor of the Villa is exposed to a composed, sober, almost intimate painting that, being far from the sumptuosity of celebration, recalls the theme of meditation.

In the three central panels the Chariot of the Sun is depicted at the sunrise, the zenith and the sunset. The other two panels contain a landscape with reapers and farmers, where the artist depicted some details with meticulous care.

The Gallery of the Piano Nobile, ascribed to Ciampelli and his pupils, is frescoed and watercoloured with natural scenes: in the vault that imitates a sky crossed by angels and clouds, a wonderful pergola in perspective connects the interior of the villa with the exterior garden.
In the vault of the fourth room on the Piano Nobile, there is the so-called Room of Eliseo, corresponding to the second ‘decorative period’ realized during the Montalto era. The room is the work of Bolognese artists - patronized by Cardinal Alessandro himself - who have the typical style of the artists educated at Annibale Carracci’s circle.

In order to understand the spirit that animates the Pannini Gallery decoration one has to consider Pannini’s background as a stage designer educated at the renowned Bibbiena’s school.
On the walls, in addition to the grisaille paintings of the classical deities Apollo and Diana, there is the Allegory of the Four Seasons, depicted as couples of children in balance on the door frames, playing with the different features of each season.

Four powerful female figures represent the four continents and the book at the feet of Europa is engraved with the artist’s initials. In the four sections into which the vault is divided, couples of genes are at the side of Odescalchi’s emblem: an eagle, a lion, a ship and the signs of the Zodiac.

Four powerful males figures sustain the frames with the four elements - Air, Water, Fire and Earth -, accompanied by the respective symbols: flaming braziers for Fire, water plants, shells and corals for Water, vegetables Earth and birds for Air.

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