COLI, Giovanni
(b. 1636, San Quirico di Lucca, d. 1681, Lucca)

View of the Grande Galleria

1665-85
Fresco
Palazzo Colonna, Rome

The powerful Colonna family had lived on the western slope of the Quirinale in Rome since the Middle Ages. Over the years it managed to link together the various houses it had built and purchased over time into a unified ensemble of palaces, courtyards, and gardens. In the seventeenth century, the art-loving cardinal Girolamo I Colonna (1604-1666) began turning the complex into a Baroque residence. Construction began in 1650. The south wing, containing the Grande Galleria, was built between 1661 and 1700 at the behest of the cardinal's nephew Lorenzo Onofrio (1637-1689).

The most important room in the palace is the gallery (Grande Galleria) on the second floor of the south wing. It is more than a story and a half in height, and it receives light from both sides. It has two separate anterooms, marked off from the main space by pairs of columns. These extensions and the wall arrangements of the room with large pilasters produced the most magnificent secular space from the Roman Baroque.

The painting of the gallery was begun in 1665 and lasted until 1685. The pictorial program unfolds in the vaults of the trio of rooms and it is supplemented to this day with the original statues, paintings, and elaborate furnishings. The architecture painting and framing is by Johann Paul Schor and his workshop, the narrative cycle on Marcantonio II Colonna is by Giovanni Coli and Filippo Gherardi, two painters from Lucca working as an inseparable team. The scenes on the ceiling illustrate decisive events from the military career of Marcantonio II Colonna (1535-1584). In its form and composition the narrative cycle borrows from sixteenth-century Venetian painting, which beginning with Veronese had specialised in depictions on ceilings of historical events viewed from extremely low vantage points.




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