GIULIO ROMANO
(b. ca. 1499, Roma, d. 1546, Mantova)

View of the Sala di Psiche (east wall)

1526-28
Fresco
Sala di Psiche, Palazzo del Tè, Mantua

Opposite the entrance door, in the line of sight of those passing into the room, sits giant, muscular Polyphemus - the prototype of a man tortured by ardent passion, an image of physical virility wedged into a rocky crag. Giulio links this figure to the two neighbouring erotic scenes in a risqué manner. Polyphemus's pipes - the pipe being a common metaphor for the phallus - point to the left where in the scene Jupiter Seducing Olympias Jupiter is obviously putting his virility to use while blinding the witness. One-eyed Polyphemus thus prefers to gate to the right where - in the scene Pasiphae - he sees sticking out toward him the hindquarters of the artificial cow. Polyphemus reclines, alone and lovelorn in his cave, the enormous club remains leaning between his legs. Galatea and her lover embrace by the seashore in the distance.

The three lunettes on the east wall represent Venus before Jupiter, Mercury, Psyche Appealing in Vain to Juno.




© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.