Palazzo Farnese, Rome
- (c. 1513-c. 1589)Commissioned from Antonio da Sangallo the Younger by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese who in 1534 was elected to the papal throne as Paul III. After his election, the pope asked Sangallo to modify the original design to create a more imposing structure that reflected his newly acquired position of power. As a result, the palace is the largest and among the most magnificent examples of Renaissance domestic structures. Sangallo designed a freestanding block built around a central courtyard with a loggia that affords a view of the Tiber River. Only the corners of the façade and its main entrance are rusticated, granting little texture to the building. The three stories are emphatically separated by entablatures and the windows of the lower story are capped by lintels supported by brackets. Those on the upper stories are framed by columns and capped by pediments that alternate at the second level. The entrance vestibule, one of the most interesting features of the building, was designed all' antica as a barrel-vaulted tunnel with a coffered ceiling supported by granite columns. The space was inspired by the Theater of Marcellus in Rome and the Colosseum, as was the courtyard, which features superimposed arches that follow the Colosseum principle. When Sangallo died, the pope charged Michelangelo with the completion of the project. Michelangelo had already won the competition for the palace's heavy cornice, initiated by Paul III while Sangallo was still living. Not only was the cornice designed by Michelangelo but so was the central window of the façade, which is more recessed than the other windows and is crowned by the Farnese coat-of-arms. The third story in the courtyard is also Michelangelo's. After Michelangelo's death, his pupil Giacomo della Porta is the one who finally brought the palace to completion. In the interior, the Palazzo Farnese boasts frescoes by the Carracci, with the Farnese ceiling (c. 1597-1600) as its crowning jewel.
Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. Lilian H. Zirpolo. 2008.
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