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

Ceiling of the Udienza Privata

Palazzo Pitti, Florence

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

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 pictorial program of the Udienza Privata, in the Ionic order, is devoted to Alexander the Great. Six scenes from his life appear in the form of simulated reliefs with applied gold on the columns intertwined with oak leaves, and the ceiling painting presents the Macedonian hero's apotheosis with furious pathos.