Loggia di Psiche
Raphael (1483-1520), Giulio Romano, and others
(1518-1519)

The small two-story Villa Farnesina on the banks of the Tiber was built in 1509 for the Sienese papal banker, Agostino Chigi, as a residence for his mistress. After Chigi, the villa was purchased by the Farnese family (thus the name) and connected by a bridge across the Tiber to the huge Palazzo Farnese on the opposite bank. The garden loggia (1518-19) has frescoes painted by Raphael and his assistants. Painted bands of foliage line each of the groins in the vaulting. Two frescoes on the ceiling depict incidents in the story of Cupid and Psyche which took place in heaven. Scholars suggest that the story cycle alludes to Chigi's own life, and his recent marriage, and thus represents an epithelamion.

Vasari's Life of Raphael calls the painter "a very amorous person," and says, when he was asked to paint the loggia, Raphael

was not able to give much attention to his work, on account of the love that he had for his mistress; at which Agostino fell into such despair, that he so contrivted by means of others, by himself, and in other ways, as to bring it about, although not only with difficulty, that this lady should come to live continually with Raphael in that part of the house wherehe was working; and in this manner the work was brought to completion.

However, As Bellori noted in 1695, the cycle is incomplete. According to most scholars, the work was interrupted when new scaffolding had to be built for the walls. It may be that Raphael's many commitments prevented the work from being completed perhaps because of Raphael's death in 1520.

View of Loggia
Reverse view
Ceiling
Detail of the above (Cupid Pleading His Case before Jupiter)
View including spandrels
Spandrel of three goddesses (Venus, Ceres and Juno)
Spandrel of Venus pointing out Psyche to the young Cupid
Drawing after the above
Spandrel of Cupid pointing out Psyche to three Graces
Raphael never completed the Psyche figure toward which Cupid points.
(Another capture of the above)
Spandrel of Jupiter instructing Cupid
Spandrel of armorini (little Cupids), with Pluto's pitchfork and Cerberus

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