(b. 1477, Vercelli, d. 1549, Siena)

Wedding of Alexander and Roxane

c. 1517
Fresco, 370 x 660 cm
Villa Farnesina, Rome

This fresco in the bedroom of Villa Farnesina was based on a Raphaelesque drawing that may have followed suggestions from Raphael himself.

Chigi's bedchamber was adjacent to the banquet hall, and he had Sodoma decorate two of its wall, probably in conjunction with the decoration of the hall. The surfaces of the walls open up onto a narrative with large-scale figures, as if inviting visitors to enter. The main painting shows the wedding of Alexander the Great and Roxane. The composition is based on an ekphrasis (graphic description of a visual work of art). Lucian described a painting by the ancient master Aetion: Alexander handing the crown to Roxane in their wedding chamber. The princess is sitting on the bed, with Hephaistion and the god of marriage, Hymen, standing to the side; cupids are playing with the ruler's weapons and armor. Sodoma followed the description very precisely, he tried to recreate the ancient painting. However, the stage on which the figures are placed and their distribution in the composition follow a contemporary model: Raphael's frescoes in the Stanze, inspired above all by the Fire in the Borgo.

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