VERONESE, Paolo
(b. 1528, Verona, d. 1588, Venezia)

Ceiling of the Sala dell'Olimpo

1560-61
Fresco
Villa Barbaro, Maser

The colourful fresco decoration of the Villa Barbaro reaches its climax in the Sala dell'Olimpo. The ceiling shows Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Apollo, Venus, Mercury and Diana, the seven gods of the sky, gathered around the figure of a woman riding a headless snake, who has been interpreted, inter alia, as an allegory of divine wisdom. As Richard Cocke has explained, however, it could be Thalia, who in conjunction with the eight muses of the transept and the gods of the sky illustrates the real theme of the dome fresco, i.e. the harmony of the spheres. The adjacent pictorial fields in the octagon illustrate the elements of fire, earth, water and air, represented by figures of the gods Vulcan, Cybele, Neptune and Juno. In between, they include four allegories inscribed in cartouches.




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