“Renaissance Pleasure Palaces”
Presented by Dr. Rocky Ruggiero
One of the ancient Roman traditions that was revived in Renaissance Italy was the building of sub-urban villas. Like their Roman ancestors, Renaissance Italians used these structures for delectation and delight; and as havens from the pressures and anxiety of urban life. But, also like their ancestors, Renaissance villas became hubs for debauchery and hedonism – veritable Renaissance Playboy mansions. Two of the best preserved of these villas are the Villa Farnesina (originally owned by the Chigi family) and the Villa Borghese, both of which are in Rome. The extraordinary art which has adorned these structures for the past five centuries serves as testimony to the often-lascivious revelry that ensued within them. From Raphael’s celebrated fresco of Galatea, to Giulio Romano’s erotic Loggia of Psyche in the Farnesina; to Bernini’s breathtaking mythological statues of Apollo and Daphne and Pluto and Persephone in the Borghese, the nature of the art clearly reflects the intentions of its patrons. This lecture will explore the history, practices, traditions, and art of perhaps the two most beautiful and well-preserved of Renaissance villas – the Villa Farnesina and Villa Borghese in Rome – and how they reflected their society and times.