(b. 1483, Urbino, d. 1520, Roma)

Venus, Ceres and Juno

Villa Farnesina, Rome

Raphael's pictorial narrative in the Loggia di Psiche begins in the spandrels of the short side on the left as one enters and continues along the spandrels to the right to the second short side and then along the entrance side. These triangular surfaces represented a problematic format for artists. Raphael solved this challenge in ever new and surprising ways, causing the form of the painting's support and the composition of its figures to interact in particularly fortuitous and varied manners.

This detail from the vault of the Loggia shows Venus, Ceres and Juno. In this spandrel the group of three goddesses is divided. Venus has learned of the secret affair and, driven by wrath, is seeking support from her female friends. But Ceres and Juno show little sympathy for her wrath and laments.

The appealing portrayals of animals and insects, as well as the rich garlands of fruit and vegetables were devised by Giovanni da Udine. These are so painstakingly observed that experts can identify the particular genus of each variety depicted. Among the novelties to be enjoyed by the Renaissance spectator were recently discovered species of corn, squash and beans from the New World.

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