The second part of our tour centres around the painting of the Giants, who are desperately attempting to conquer the mount Olympus. It is an allegory of the pointless rebellion of the enemies of Carlo V and of the Empire. The frescoe creates a particular atmosphere, highlighting the cave-like appearance of the room that is similar to a grotto or an ancient tomb.
From the loggia we pass into the sunny garden, enclosed by an exedra, that dates to a different period. The style of the Loggia is inspired by the prototype of the Roman villa created by Raphael. This place had a series of different functions: it was a place for recreation, it was meant to glorify the Prince; furthermore it was the ideal place to stage theatrical performances; finally it is the place that best sums up and represents the whole Palace. Here the rhythm created by the frescoes and the decorations respond to the complexity of the architecture.
The detail of this double strip shows a parade of armed men, and the legs of horses that seem to come out of the wall. In the lower part, to the left, it is possible to recognize the Emperor on his horse leading the men, his arm raised, to lead the way. The second artistic reference of Giulio Romano is perhaps the painting depicting the great triumph with which Andrea Mantegna had adorned, a couple of decades earlier, the Palazzo di San Sebastiano. The same scene here acquires a plastic quality, and the figures, less dynamic than their painted counterparts, are turned into emblems.
At the centre of the vault, enriched by a light blue and red decoration in stucco with vegetal motifs, there is a central square which shows a painting of Caesar who is ordering the destruction of the letters by Pompey. Also here the main theme is the magnanimity of the ruler. By destroying these letters, Caesar was preventing Pompey's plots against the state from becoming public, so that the memory of his defeated enemy would be, at least in part, preserved.
In a curious but coherent way, the sky ends behind Jupiter's canopy just as a vault would. The heavens are closed, in a manner that is characteristic of Giulio Romano's art, that combines an invented reality with an artificial space. The twelve columns, almost hidden by a cloud, support the imaginary part of the cupola and trace another circle, a third one with respect to the one formed by the clouds and the one created by the canopy. The result is a celestial chart, that the Giants intend to destroy.
he Giants, colossal figures painted as hungry peasants intent on lifting the mounts and throwing them against the cupola of the rulers, appear in many places of the painting, being at the same time buried under the rocks they are trying to upturn. The story illustrates mythological episodes taken from Latin literature, but what is important here is the dynamism of the scene, that translates the violence of the rebels into a continuous rotating movement: the Giants are destined to fall into the bowels of the earth.
Ideato e promosso da / Founded and Promoted by:
Mattia Palazzi (Sindaco del Comune di Mantova)
con Lorenza Baroncelli (Assessore alla rigenerazione urbana e del territorio, marketing urbano, progetti e relazioni internazionali del Comune di Mantova )
Coordinamento Scientifico / Scientific Coordinator:
Curatore testi e immagini / Superintendent texts and images:
In collaborazione con / in cooperation with:
Stefano Benetti (Palazzo Te e Musei Civici)
Foto di / Photo by:
Gian Maria Pontiroli
Redazione / Editors:
Un ringraziamento speciale a / A special thanks to:
Emma Catherine Gainsforth
Lo staff di Palazzo Te che ha fatto il turno dalle 19 all’1 del mattino per la gigapixel per tre giorni di fila