Frescoes in the Oratorio di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome
Cecchino del SALVIATI

The Oratorio di San Giovanni Decollato in Rome houses the most important fresco cycle executed in the difficult decades after he Sack of Rome. It was commissioned by the Florentine confraternity of the Misericordia, founded in 1488, whose members had set themselves the task of helping those sentenced to death by providing them with spiritual support. Shortly after its founding the confraternity began the construction of the church and oratory next door. The completion of the church was delayed until 1553. By around 1536, on the other hand, the oratory had been completed to the extent that the painted decoration of the room could begin.

The subject chosen for the fresco cycle, which covers the upper half of all four walls, was the story of the patron saint of the brotherhood, John the Baptist. For the execution of the cycle they selected Florentine (or Tuscan) artists working in Rome at the time. The most renowned Florentine painter active in Rome was Perino del Vaga, and several preparatory drawings for the frescoes by him have been preserved. Perino's designs were executed by younger Florentine artists, Jacopino del Conte and Cecchino (Francesco) del Salviati.

Jacopino del Ponte painted on the entrance wall St John the Baptist Preaching (1538, on the left) and the Baptism of Christ (1541, on the right), on the right wall The Annunciation to Zachariah (1536-38). Salviati painted the Visitation (1538), the Birth of St John the Baptist (1551, on the right wall). The sixth fresco, the Arrest of St John the Baptist (c. 1543, on the left wall) was executed by Battista Franco, who came from Venice but worked in Florence. Pirro Ligorio painted the Feast of Herod with the Dance of Salome (1544-53, on the left wall). Starting in 1550, Salviati painted two apostles on the altar wall, Andrew (to the left of the altar) and Bartholomew (to the right). The altarpiece, an excellent panel with the Descent from the Cross was painted by Jacopino (1550-53). The fresco cycle was completed in 1553 with the Beheading of St John the Baptist. This was carried out by an assistant who reused some of Salviati's older drawings for several figures but whose overall composition did not come close to approximating the achievements of his master.

The rivalry between Jacopino and Salviati, reported by Vasari, led to interruptions in the realization of the decorative program.

Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
View of the oratory
1536-53
Fresco
Oratorio di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

1414*1000
True Color
274 Kb



View of the oratory
1550
Fresco
Oratorio di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

950*713
True Color
175 Kb



The Visitation
1538
Fresco
Oratorio di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

1400*841
True Color
224 Kb



The Visitation
1538
Fresco
Oratorio di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

1039*684
True Color
142 Kb



The Visitation (detail)
1538
Fresco
Oratorio di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

1061*1200
True Color
243 Kb



The Visitation (detail)
1538
Fresco
Oratorio di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

905*1300
True Color
203 Kb



The Birth of St John the Baptist
1551
Fresco
Oratorio di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

1443*900
True Color
246 Kb



St Andrew
1550
Fresco
Oratorio di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

1053*1300
True Color
250 Kb



St Bartholomew
1550
Fresco
Oratorio di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

1001*1300
True Color
236 Kb



Illusionistic window
1536-53
Fresco
Oratorio di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

950*1159
True Color
244 Kb



Sketch for the Birth of St John the Baptist
-
Pen, ink and brown wash, 114 x 173 mm
British Museum, London

1011*667
True Color
117 Kb



Sketch for the Birth of St John the Baptist
-
Pen, ink and brown wash, 114 x 150 mm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes

713*700
True Color
93 Kb



Sketch for the Baptism of Christ
-
Pen, ink and brown wash, 242 x 203 mm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille

900*1066
True Color
129 Kb



Design for the fresco cycle
-
Pen and brown ink and gray-brown wash, 128 x 224 mm
Royal Collection, Windsor

1000*551
True Color
110 Kb




Paintings by by Cecchino del Salviati
Oil paintings and graphics
Frescoes in the Oratorio di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome
Frescoes in the Palazzo Ricci-Sacchetti, Rome
Various frescoes