BERGAMASCO, Il
(b. ca. 1509, Bergamo, d. ca. 1569, Madrid)

Apollo and Cupid

c. 1560
Fresco
Loggia di Apollo, Villa Pallavicino delle Peschiere, Genoa

The villa owes its fame not only to its architecture and location, but also to a particularly extensive decorative program of frescoes on the piano nobile. The decoration extends through a vestibule, the adjoining large salon (the Salone), two symmetrically adjoining side rooms, and two loggias which at that time opened toward the south.

The fresco decoration of the Salone and the loggias are attuned to each other: in the east (Loggia di Apollo), the chariot of the sun god Apollo in the ceiling fresco rides across the sky in the direction of the sunrise, while in the west (Loggia di Diana), the moon goddess Diana leads her team of horses.

Above the passage from the loggias into the Salone, there are two over-door paintings. In the Loggia di Apollo, one can see at this location an argument between Apollo and Cupid. Apollo - overconfident after having killed the python with arrows - mocks the little archer. Cupid obtains his revenge and proves his superior power by enflaming the god to love with a shot from his bow.

In the Loggia di Diana, the chaste Diana must protect herself against sensual longing as a lusty satyr tries to seize her. Anyone entering the Salone from the loggias is reminded by the images that even the noble Olympians were not safe from love's onslaught.

The frescoes in the loggias were painted by two different artists. The Apollo and Cupid was executed by Giovan Battista Castello (called Il Bergamasco), who was also responsible for the decoration in the Salone, and Diana and Satyr by Luca Cambiaso. In the two contest scenes, the artists thus compete with each other.