COLONNA, Angelo Michele
(b. 1604, Rovenna, d. 1687, Bologna)

View of the Udienza Pubblica

Palazzo Pitti, Florence

The picture shows a view of the Udienza Pubblica, one of the adjoining three rooms on the ground floor in the summer quarters of Ferdinando II de' Medici in the Palazzo Pitti.

The Palazzo Pitti in Florence, purchased from the Pitti family by the wife of Duke CosimoI de' Medici in 1549 and renovated and expanded by Bartolommeo Ammanati, served as a residence of royal proportions for roughly 350 years. It was occupied by the dynasties of the Medici, the Habsburgs, and finally the Savoyards, and subjected to constant adaptations and alterations. Intensive use by ruling families resulted in the lavish decoration of all floors. Fresco painters from three centuries contributed to the fixed decor of the public rooms and living quarters. Of its numerous apartments two suites of rooms stand out because of their decoration, function and size. These took their present form under Grand Duke Ferdinando II de' Medici (1610-1670), and for the most part they were spared later encroachments owing to their high-quality frescoes. These are the reception rooms in the left (north) wing used by Ferdinando II. The rooms on the cooler ground floor, directly connected with the Boboli Gardens by way of a loggia and a terrace, served him as a summer apartment (Appartamento d'Estate); his winter quarters (Appartamento d'Inverno), reached by way of a large staircase and capable of being heated, lie directly above these on the piano nobile.

Several different painters worked on the decoration of the large hall on the ground floor (Salone Terreno) between 1637 and 1641. The adjoining three rooms of the summer suite were painted at the same time. The first two of them, the Udienza Pubblica and Udienza Privata, served as reception rooms, while the third and largest, which is directly accessible from the garden, was apparently used as an antechamber for visitors awaiting private audiences. These rooms were painted by Angelo Michele Colonna with the assistance of Agostino Mitelli with whom Colonna had established a highly efficient working relationship beginning in 1632.

The appearance of the Udienza Pubblica is dominated by two balustrades of a composite order and fourteen larger-than-life-size telamones. The frescoes develop the theme of the triumph of Merit and Truth over falsehood.