Villa Farnesina construction site of knowledge. The restorations of the frescoes by Raphael and Sodoma – Rome open to the public

Villa Farnesina, Hall of the wedding of Alessandro and Roxane | Courtesy National Academy of the Lincei © Archivio di Villa Farnesina

Rome – Roxane’s transparent veil slides over the diaphanous complexion made almost alive by the subtle hatching of Sodoma’s brushstrokes.
The Macedonian leader Alexander the Great offers the crown to his bride who, surrounded by cupids, awaits him on the edge of a sumptuous four-poster bed, the same one that would have welcomed Agostino Chigi and his bride after the wedding.
Faced with the beauty of these frescoes, in the Wedding Hall of Villa Farnesina – which the banker entrusted in 1519 to the Sienese painter Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, known as Sodoma, who, on the basis of a “first idea” of Raffaellohe elaborated a cycle centered on the marriage of Alexander the Great and Roxane – even the fury of the Landsknechts would have calmed down, it is thought that the fury of the lansquenets would have subsided only in the scarring, it is thought, on the eye of the beautiful princess daughter of Ossiarte.
Now the refined painting of Sodoma – which with great success transferred Leonardo da Vinci’s effects of transparency and nuance to the wall – the yellows, the horse Bucephalus are preparing to shine with a new light, freed from the dust accumulated in 60 years and from the alteration suffered by the materials used in the last century during a restoration.

Villa Farnesina, Detail, Hall of the Marriage of Alexander and Roxane

From July, in fact, the frescoes by Sodoma e bottega are the focus of a conservative restoration project that will end in January, entirely supported by IGT, directed by the Conservator of the Farnesina Virginia Lapenta with the high supervision of the Special Superintendence of Archeology, Fine Arts. and Landscape of Rome and performed by Antonio Forcellino. The restorations, which, in addition to the wedding hall of Alessandro and Roxane del Sodoma, will also involve the Triumph of Galatea by Raphael and the adjacent panel of Polyphemus by Sebastiano del Piombo, are included in the conservation program of the decorations of Villa Farnesina, now the representative office of the National Academy of the Lincei.
But above all they will be at the center of a construction site open to the public, defined by the experts as “of knowledge, as well as research and enhancement”.
On the occasion of the restorations, in fact, every second Sunday of the month – on 9 October, 13 November, 11 December, 9 January, at 12.30pm, at 3pm and at 4pm – it will be possible to book a free entrance to the museum (maximum two people and subject to availability) with a guided tour edited by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei and with the support of IGT (reservations required at [email protected]).

Villa Farnesina, Detail, Hall of the Marriage of Alexander and Roxane | Courtesy National Academy of the Lincei © Archivio di Villa Farnesina

“We will try to recover the crease in the shade of Sodoma recovering the values ​​of great masters – explained during the presentation of the restoration to the press, Antonio Forcellino, already author of the Raphaelesque restoration of Sibyls of Santa Maria della Pace -. We will leave everything trying to be light. Figures such as the Bucephalus horse, once cleaned, will take on a completely different consistency ”.

Approaching the fresco with the scene of Alexander and Roxane, whose gold finishes have unfortunately been lost, look at the mirror in the bedroom of the spouses, through which Sodoma has managed to translate the elegant trompe-l’oeil that the Flemish painter Jan van Eyck had included in the portrait of the Spouses Arnolfini. And then it is enough to look at the knights, at the center of the culminating moment of a battle carried out by Sodoma’s workshop, on the opposite wall, to glimpse a reference to Leonardo, whose presence in Rome exercised a strong influence on the painter who must have seen the preparatory drawings ofAdoration of the Magi, brought to the Eternal City by the genius of Vinci.

Villa Farnesina, Detail, Hall of the Marriage of Alexander and Roxane | Courtesy National Academy of the Lincei © Archivio di Villa Farnesina

The intervention on the Sodoma murals will be accompanied by the restorations of Triumph of Galatea by Raffaello and by Polyphemus by Sebastiano del Piombo. Restored in the seventies of the last century, and never touched since then, the masterpiece of Urbinate is now covered with a layer of dust that obscures its colors. In addition to the necessary cleaning, the plaster layer will be checked to restore any detachment of the wall. The intervention on Raphael’s masterpiece will conclude the technical-diagnostic investigations aimed at deepening the executive procedures of a Raphael at the height of his professional success and his own creative happiness, also thanks to the comparison with the data that emerged during the restoration of the Sibyls of Santa Maria della Pace. These investigations follow the discovery of Professor Antonio Sgamellotti who identified in the sky and in the eyes of Galatea the very rare pigment known since ancient times as “Egyptian blue”.

Raffaello Sanzio, Triumph of Galatea | Courtesy National Academy of the Lincei © Archivio di Villa Farnesina

Read also:
• The Galatea loggia gets a new look: the restoration of Villa Farnesina is underway

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