Art

THE PALACE • ART AND ARCHITECTURE

Fresco in the Pope’s Hall

On the ceiling of the Papal Audience Hall there are five episodes in the story of David surrounded by beautifully grotesque and rich decorations. Here we can see them closely, one by one.

The Anointing of the Young Shepherd

The Anointing of the Young Shepherd

The first of the five scenes is situated on the large monumental fireplace. It is a painting on wood representing the anointing of David as King of Israel by Samuel.

The Gifts of Jesse

The Gifts of Jesse

On the left of the central scene there is an episode not particularly common in the iconography of the time: David appears at the court of King Saul with gifts from Jesse, his father.

The War on the Philistines

The War on the Philistines

Depicted above the entrance door is the delivery, by Jesse, of some gifts for the other brothers who were engaged in a war against the Philistines. This is unique as there are no known precedents for it except the engravings by Dutch artist Maerten Van Heemskerck.

The Dressing of David

The Dressing of David

To the right of the central scene, David puts on the armor of King Saul as he prepares to fight Goliath. In reality, David refuses to wear the armor and fights the Philistine giant armed only with a sling.

David's Victory against Goliath

David's Victory against Goliath

In the center of the ceiling is the climactic scene of David’s story: the beheading of the giant Goliath.

Grottesques

Grottesques

The decoration of the room is very rich and there are grotesques painted on a white background, as found in Castel Sant’Angelo, with fantastic animals and phytomorphic figures such as exotic birds, parrots, imaginary landscapes, ruins and mythological figures like Athena and Aphrodite, and Ceres or Fortuna; probably inspired by the decorations of the Domus Aurea in Rome, discovered at the end of the 15th century.
The alternation of fantastic figures with the fauna of the area, from a luxuriant nature to the more typically Emilian one, is perhaps due to the cultural influence of Ulisse Aldrovandi, the great Bolognese scientist and botanist who is a contemporary of and related to the Boncompagni family.

EVENTS

May 2022

450 years
of Pope Gregory XIII

1572-2022

On May 25th, 450 years ago, Ugo Boncompagni was crowned Pope and given the name “Gregory XIII”, after a very short conclave held on May 13th 1572.
On the occasion of this symbolic anniversary, the Palazzo Boncompagni Foundation is organizing a rich program of activities.