Glorification of the reign of Urban VIII, Palazzo Barberini, Rome

(1633-1639)
   Commissioned by the Barberini from Pietro da Cortona, the Glorification of the Reign of Urban VIII shows Divine Providence commanding Immortality to crown the Barberini escutcheon, composed of bees contained in a laurel wreath held by Faith, Charity, and Hope. This main scene is enclosed in an illusionistic quadratura framework, partially concealed by fictive garlands, shells, masks, and other decorative elements. The scenes on the outer parameters of the fresco are mythological representations that refer to the pope's deeds: Minerva Destroying Insolence and Pride for his courageous fight against heresy, Silenus and the Satyrs for his ability to overcome lust and intemperance, Hercules Driving out the Harpies for his sense of justice, and The Temple of Janus for his prudence. The scene graces the ceiling of the Barberini Palace's grand salon and was meant to awe visitors and impart upon them its propagandist message. The dynamism of the scene, with its heavy foreshortening and elaborate allegorical content, had not been seen in art before. With this work, Cortona opened a new universe of possibilities in the field of ceiling fresco painting.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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