Factum Foundation and Fondazione Palazzo Te have partnered up to carry out a vast high-resolution digitisation project inside three rooms within Palazzo Te. The palace, built as a place of leisure for the Gonzaga family in the mid 16th century, was designed and frescoed by Giulio Pippi, better known as Giulio Romano.
From January 17 until February 7, a team of digitisation specialists from ARCHiVe and Factum Foundation will record in high resolution the Chamber of the Giants, the Chamber of Cupid and Psyche and the Hall of the Horses. The data, acquired using LiDAR, photogrammetry and composite photography, will belong to Fondazione Palazzo Te and help with the documentation, preservation, study and dissemination of the rooms, also enabling future diverse and innovative exhibition projects.
A brilliant pupil of Raphael, with whom he worked on the Vatican Rooms and many other works, Giulio Romano moved to Mantua shortly after the death of his teacher in 1520. Arriving in Mantua in 1524 as the official court artist of Marquis (later Duke) Federico II Gonzaga, he received the commission to "build a small residence to which he [the marquis] could retire sometimes to feast, or dine for pleasure" (G. Vasari, Lives of the Artists).
According to biographer Giorgio Vasari, the elaborate model that Giulio Romano presented to the marquis was enough for him to immediately begin construction, and the finished palace soon became a source of inspiration for artists and architects alike, thanks to its innovative designs and frescoed rooms.
Hall of the Horses
Probably frescoed between 1526 and 1528, this room was dedicated to welcoming guests and host the most important events. The life-size frescoes of horses that decorate the walls depict thoroughbred horses, which Duke Federico II gifted from his personal stables to the most prestigious guests and friends. The area of Palazzo Te was already in use as stables since the early 16th century by Francesco II Gonzaga, husband of Isabella d’Este and father to Federico II: father and son shared a common interest for horses and Gonzaga thoroughbreds were considered among the best.
A rich painted structure frames the horses, landscapes and busts. On the upper size, a painted bronze low-relief depicts Herakles' twelve labours.
Chamber of Cupid and Psyche
It is in this squared chamber that the purpose of the whole building is proudly declared in Latin: a place of respite and 'honest leisure' from the tiresome troubles of governing the province ("HONESTO OCIO POST LABORES AD REPARANDAM VIRT[utem] QVIETI CONSTRVI MANDAVIT"). The frescoes depict the story of Cupid and Psyche, taken from Apuleio's Metamorphosis, and were painted between 1526 and 1528.
Chamber of the Giants
The most famous of all the rooms of Palazzo Te was painted between 1532 and 1534 by Giulio Romano and his assistants: Rinaldo Mantovano, Fermo da Caravaggio and Luca da Faenza. The chamber as a whole is a work of art, from its shape (resembling a cave) to its highly theatrical and elaborate decoration spiralling from walls to ceiling, which aimed at leaving the guests in awe. The fight between the Olympic deities and the Giants, which saw Jupiter as a winner, can be read as a subtle political nod to the victories of Emperor Charles V over rebellious Italian 'signorie'. The Gonzagas, political allies of Charles V (and thus Jupiter), triumphed over rival provinces by allying themselves to the imperial side.
Pedro Miró recording the space in 3D using a LiDAR scanner © Oscar Parasiego for Factum Foundation
An elevated platform was rented to help with the close-range photogrammetry of the ceiling and the top sections of the walls © Gabriel Scarpa for Factum Foundation
© Oscar Parasiego for Factum Foundation
A recreation of leather wallpaper
For the exhibition 'Le pareti delle meraviglie' (26 March - 26 June, 2022), curated by Augusto Morari and dedicated to the elaborate leather wallpaper that used to decorate Palazzo Te, a team from Factum Foundation recorded in 3D and colour the Leather wall covering with flower vases inside the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. The 'corame' was recorded using the Lucida 3D Scanner and photogrammetry to acquire its subtle relief surface, while composite photography was used to accurately obtain the colour data.
A recreation from the data recorded in Paris will be on display inside the Sala dei Venti at Palazzo Te during the exhibition.
The Lucida 3D Scanner recording the surface of the leather wall cover at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs © Carlos Bayod for Factum Foundation
Recreating objects designed by Giulio Romano
At the same time, the 3D team at Factum Arte are currently working on the production of physical objects designed by the artist for the exhibition 'Giulio Romano. La forza delle cose' (8 October, 2022 - 8 January, 2023), curated by Guido Rebecchini and Barbara Furlotti. Giulio Romano was a prolific designer for theater backgrounds and costumes, but a series of drawings from the artist also demonstrates his talent and ingenuity in object design - both for leisure and war. Only a few of these objects survive today, but Factum Arte will recreate five of Giulio Romano's designs as 3D objects from drawings of the artist.
More information coming soon.
Giulio Romano, A pair of tongs formed by a duck’s bill, the handles terminating in serpents’ heads; pen and brown ink, with grey-brown wash, over black chalk, 1514-1546. © The Trustees of the British Museum.