Carracci Gallery At the Palazzo Farnese

Completed Project
Rome, Italy


The Palazzo Farnese was commissioned by Alessandro Farnese (1468-1549), later Pope Paul III (r. 1534-1549) around 1513. Architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger was responsible for the initial design of the palace. After Alessandro Farnese became Pope Paul III in 1534, the structure was expanded significantly in order to emphasize the wealth and power of the Farnese family, and some of the most prestigious artists of the time—including Michelangelo, Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola, and Giacomo della Porta—worked to create a building that is now considered one of the most important Renaissance palaces in Italy. Also of great importance to the history of the palace was Cardinal Odoardo Farnese’s commission, in 1597, to Annibale Carracci to create a painted gallery, believed to have been ordered in celebration of the wedding between Ranuccio Farnese and Margherita Aldobrandini, Pope Clemente VIII’s niece. The important cycle of frescoes, trompe-l’oeil, and architectural framework known as quadratura that make up the barrel-vaulted ceiling of the gallery depict the "Loves of the Gods," a sophisticated dialogue between the theme of love and allegorical subjects from antiquity.

How We Helped

The first consolidation of the vault was directed by Carlo Maratta in the seventeenth century; later conservation interventions to protect and stabilize the ceiling were carried out in 1923, 1936, and 1994. Today, conservation is necessary to ensure that the paintings in the gallery do not deteriorate or become harmed by structural problems in the ceiling. The campaign of 1994, realized under the direction of the French Service des Monuments historiques, assembled information on the condition of the vault that led to some proposed solutions to conservation issues, but it was not possible at the time to secure sufficient funding to carry out the proposed treatments. World Monuments Fund is first undertaking diagnostic studies to determine the techniques, materials, pigments, and methodologies used originally in the construction and completion of the Carracci gallery in order to understand and choose the appropriate conservation treatments necessary. This analysis resulted in a comprehensive conservation program for the ceiling, stucco, and decorative wall finishes in the Carracci gallery. WMF’s formal involvement with the project began in 2011. Conservation work began in March 2014 and finished in 2015.

Why It Matters

The ceiling of the Carracci gallery at the Palazzo Farnese is considered one of the most important Renaissance commissions in Rome. Once completed, the current conservation project will allow the Palazzo Farnese and the Carracci gallery to be accessible to the public more regularly, following years of restricted access to this cultural treasure.

Last updated: December 2020.

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