Frescoes and decorations
The frescoed rooms of the Palace
Baldassini decided to call upon the so-called School of Raphael, whose students included Perin del Vaga, Giovanni da Udine and Polidoro da Caravaggio Maturino for the decorative paintings.
Giovanni da Udine Room
The room decorated with frescoes by Giovanni da Udine between 1517 and 1519, was one of the first environments of the building to be painted while the Palace was still under construction.
Giovanni da Udine (who was born in Udine in 1487 and died in Rome about 1564) was a painter, decorator and architect in the important workshop of Raphael. The artist was already known at the time for being an expert in stucco decorations and in the “grotesques”-technique, much en vogue at the time. The grotesque is a painting technique derived from the wall-paintings which we could see in Rome around the 1480’s in the “caves”, the so-called grottos, the rooms of Nero’s Domus Aurea that have survived up to date beneath the Colle Oppio (Oppian Hill) accessible through tunnels.
Sphinxes, harpies, gargoyles, architectural perspectives, landscapes: the impact of the discovery of Ancient Roman painting in a cultural environment that was already well prepared for the rediscovery of the ancient style was irrepressible and attracted many artists such as Pinturicchio, Perugino, Filippino Lippi, Luca Signorelli and Raphael, acting as a great stimulus and the beginning of an enormous volume of works of art intent on imitating authentic ancient paintings.
Among the many artists fascinated by this technique, Raphael’s best pupil, Giovanni da Udine, gave vitality and vibrancy to this genre, focusing on the more naturalistic and eliminating components of the fantastic and disturbing pagan monstrosities. The artist made great use of the technique to paint the Vatican loggias between 1517 and 1519.
For the room of Baldassini building, Giovanni Da Udine used compendium of beasts including exotic and fantastical animals, among which we can distinguish an elephant, a rhinoceros, a bull, a monkey, a parrot, a chimera; whilst, on the walls, we see grotesques decorations with chandeliers, ribbons, trophies, punctuated by small temples in perspective, with their gods accompanied by their court, the symbols and accessories that identify them; we can identify: Ceres and Mars, Neptune and Jupiter, Minerva and Hercules, as well as Venus and Dionysus.
Perin del Vaga Room
Per la sala principale del primo piano del palazzo, il Baldassini incaricò uno dei più brillanti allievi di Raffaello, Perino del Vaga (Firenze, 23 giugno 1501 – Roma, 19 ottobre) che terminò la sua lunga carriera dipingendo la Spalliera per il Giudizio Finale di Michelangelo nella Cappella Sistina.
For the main hall, Baldassini called one of Raphael’s most brilliant students, Perin del Vaga (born in Florence on the 23rd of June, 1501 and died in Rome on the 19th of October 1547) ended his career painting several background cartoons and producing the design for the so-called “Spalliera”, the tapestry border below Michelangelo’s “Last Judgement” in the Sistine Chapel.
The original decoration was conceived in two sections: the lower, a series of Corinthian pilasters each on a high plinth flanking large niches containing the solemn figures of philosophers and small niches with cherubs; the upper section, punctuated by caryatids to the left and right of panels depicting episodes from Roman history, among these: the foundation of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus and the Justice of Zeleuco, now preserved in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Due to the transformations the building suffered throughout its history only one panel with elements which refer to the Legend of the Nymph Egeria remains; the second is no longer identifiable.
The Council Room is decorated with a pictorial frieze with can be attributed to Polidoro da Caravaggio. The ten panels, heavily retouched during the restoration in the 1950s, are interspaced by griffins on the long walls, and on the shorter walls by two pairs of cherubs on either side of the heraldic crest of the Baldassini family. The significance of the narrative, which starts on the eastern wall, is not quite clear. It is not unlikely though, that it may allude, metaphorically speaking, to the various stages of the life and career of the owner, by means of exempla, taken from Roman history
The bedroom of the Baldassini
The room is decorated with an arabesque frieze of acanthus leaves and attributed to Giovanni da Udine or Perin del Vaga. Between the bedroom and the study we find a small stove, one of the first produced in Rome, similar to the one built for the Cardinal Dovizi da Bibbiena in the Vatican Palaces. The decoration of the stove consists of mythological scenes and subjects inspired by water.