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Fame, Allegories, Monochromes


Valerio Castello (Genoa, 1624–1659)
Ceiling – Fame; Allegories
Walls – Monochromes


Giovanni Maria Mariani (Pesaro, 1605/06 – Rome, 1679)
Illusionistic ceiling painting
The Antechamber of The Duke of Genoa

Executed by Valerio Castello with the assistance of Giovanni Maria Mariani, probably between September 1653 and May 1654, the decoration of this room was commissioned by Stefano Balbi’s son Giovanni Battista, to whom this section of the first floor was allocated. The attribution of the ceiling and most of the wall frescoes to the Genoese artist and the specialist in illusionistic painting from Pesaro, first documented in the late 17th century in the writings of the Genoese historian Raffaele (or Raffaello) Soprani, has never been called into question. As regards the images, while the ancient sources also tells us that the subject matter was chosen by the client, which is hardly surprising, the complex iconography remained somewhat obscure, at least for Soprani. Carlo Giuseppe Ratti put forward this interpretation in the 18th century: “Fame in the middle and four symbols above the cornice: Immortality, Medicine personified by old Aesculapius, Vigilance and another virtue, I cannot tell which. Over the doors he painted some putti holding coloured and chiaroscuro medallions, and in friezes around the room faux bas-reliefs of some schools of liberal arts.” It can be assumed that Fame and the Virtues were associated with the Balbi family and that the iconographic programme as a whole was designed to celebrate them in accordance with the practice of the time.

  • Valerio Castello
  • 1653-1654
  • affresco
  • Anticamera del Duca di Genova