The Loggia of Cupid and Psyche By: Gina M. Martino 2
The Loggia of 3 The Loggia of Psyche Renaissance Rome was all about the arts and artists. The wealthiest of individualsdisplayed their wealth by building great architectural structures by the most revered of architectsand having them decorated by the most desirable artists. Most likely the richest man in Romeduring the Renaissance was the banker Agostino Chigi. Through business with Pope Julius II,whose birth name was Giuliano della Rover, Chigi became closely tied with the della Roverefamily and was considered part of the della Rovere “famiglia,” a word that to the Italians meantnot only blood family relations, but also the extended family network. To enforce theconnection to the della Rovere family, Chigi had two chapels built in churches with strong dellaRovere connections (Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria della Pace), and when the timecame for him to build his own country villa, he choose a spot on Via della Lungara, a road builtby the della Rovere popes Sixtus IV and Julius II. In keeping with the della Rovere connections for location, Chigi also tended to favor theartists used by the della Rovere family as well. It is no wonder then, that while working on thepapal apartments in the Vatican for Julius II, Chigi commissioned Raphael to decorate his gardenloggia in the Villa Farnesina. As a country villa, Chigi wanted the décor to convey an image ofhappiness and celebration. The theme of the entire villa becomes love, and inside, through theart chosen to decorate the different rooms, one can meet the women he loved in his life, fromsimply a couple of paintings in the corner of the loggia of Galatea to the four walls of his privatechambers covered in large paintings. The entrance way to the villa, the garden loggia, becomesdedicated to the Venetian woman he marries in 1519, Francesca Ordeaschi. Francesca was acourtesan in Venice, which, during the renaissance, was a highly respected position. Venetiancourtesans were educated, witty, and traveled in circles which other women could not dare.
The Loggia of 4Before marrying Francesca, Chigi had four children with her, and when they finally married,Pope Leo X officiated the wedding, and baptized and legitimized the children. As the entrance to the villa, the loggia would have been seen by any and all visitors, andwould even sometimes be used for entertaining outdoors. The loggia, opened to the garden iscovered in lush garlands full of fruits, leaves, and flowers, framing twenty-four scenes set inopen sky to make it seem as if there is no roof at all (Hartt & Wilkins, 1987, p. 544). Even thetwo paintings on the center ceiling are drawn to look as though they are great tapestries tiedabove to create a shelter. The scenes depicted, were completed by the workshop of Raphael in1518 (Ettlinger, 1987, p. 149), and are of the story of Cupid and Psyche, a tale of the human souland its struggle to ascend to the gods through the help of love (Oberhuber, 1999, p. cpy1). Raphael’s involvement in the actual painting of the loggia has been heavily debated overthe years, especially due to the lack of uniformity between some of the images. Vasari (1998)attributed all of the cartoons, the two center frescoes, a number of the putti, as well as thecoloring of many figures to Raphael while clearly stating that the garlands were done byGiovanni da Udine on Raphael’s order. Some attribute the variations to be due to differentartists painting different scenes while others believe that it was all done by Raphael, but over aperiod of four years or so, in which his style changed and developed. Either way, all are inagreement that at the very least, the concepts for the paintings were based off cartoons done byRaphael (Oberhuber, 1983, p. 189-206). Oddly enough, in painting a room dedicated to love,Chigi found Raphael far too amorous and was compelled to have Raphael’s mistress brought tothe villa to live where Raphael was working (Vasari) The story of Cupid and Psyche begins with Psyche, the youngest and most beautiful ofthree sisters. Psyche is so beautiful that people worship her as the goddess, Venus. Venus
The Loggia of 5becomes jealous and sends her son, Cupid, to make Psyche fall in love with the ugliest of mortalsso that her offspring will not be so beautiful, but Cupid himself falls in love with Psyche.Psyche’s two sisters are married successfully, but no one courts Psyche herself. Her parents aredistressed by this and consult an oracle who informs them that Psyche is not meant for a mortalmarriage and directs them to leave her on a mountain peek for her intended to recover her.They do so, and Zephyr (the west wind) carries her to a beautiful palace where she is served bybody-less voices until night falls when her husband comes. Her husband warns her never to tryto see his face, but after several visits from her jealous sisters, Psyche is persuaded that herhusband must be a terrible monster and one night lights a lamp and readies herself with a knife tokill the monster. When she sees it is Cupid, she extinguishes the lamp, but not before a drop ofoil falls on him, awakes him, and burns him. He leaves Psyche feeling both betrayed andinjured from the oil, and returns to his mother who is angry at Cupids betrayal of her wishes. Psyche, being completely distraught, is advised by Pan to attempt to regain her husband’sfavor. In the meantime Venus is searching for Psyche to punish her. Psyche initially tries tofind Cupid and hide from Venus, but after the goddesses Ceres and Juno both refuse to help herhide from one of their own, she goes to Venus and accepts four trials. The first three trials sheis able to complete with the help of creatures and nature gods. On the fourth trail, in which sheis sent to fetch some of Persephone’s beauty, she makes her way down and back up from thehelp of a tower, but then wishes to take a peek at the beauty, but instead finds a deep sleep. Bythis time, Cupid is healed and has forgiven his wife, and he goes to her, reviving her with one ofhis arrows. He sends her back to Venus and in the meantime, goes to Jupiter to plead his andPsyche’s case. Jupiter accepts Cupids request and there is a big feast held in Cupid andPsyche’s honor at which Psyche is given ambrosia, making her a goddess.
The Loggia of 6 Not all of the story is told in the ceiling of the Loggia of Psyche however. The sceneswe are given are only scenes which occur in the heavens. However, the walls and lunetteswould have been decorated with scenes that likely completed the story with the scenes that tookplace on earth and halfway between heaven and earth respectively (Oberhuber, 1999, p. cpy1).In fact, certain figures within the ceiling decoration gesture towards something below, which wasprobably an image that further explained what was occurring. ‘By the bonds of a mother’s love,’ she said, ‘I implore you, by the sweet wounds of your arrow, by the honeyed burns made by your torch, avenge your mother – avenge her to the full. Punish mercilessly that arrogant beauty, and do this one thing willingly for me –it’s all I ask (Apuleius P73).’ The story begins over the door to the loggia of Galatea, as Venus shows Psyche to Cupid,asking for his assistance (Fig 1). Here, Venus points downward, to the left of the doorway towhat once was most likely an image of Psyche, perhaps showing her being honored as Venus.Following around in a clockwise direction along the ceiling, the next scene is not one told in thestory by Apuleius, but shows cupid showing his love to the Three Graces (Fig 2). Again, Cupidis pointing downward at what would have been yet another image. From here, the story jumps to after the turning point in which Psyche sees Cupid, to showVenus discussing her son’s betrayal and the situation at hand with Ceres, identified by hergarland of wheat, and Juno, indentified by the peacock at her feet (Fig 3). It is unlikely that theturning point itself was not depicted at all, so it can probably be assumed that this scene wasonce again featured on the wall. Venus then races in her golden chariot pulled by four doves (Fig 4), to speak with Jupiter,who holds a lightning bolt and sits atop the statue of an eagle (two of his symbols), and asks hishelp in allowing her the assistance of Mercury in finding Psyche (Fig 5). Mercury is therefore
The Loggia of 7the next to be depicted in the spandrels, shown over the other door in the Loggia which leads toChigi’s office. He is shown carrying a messenger horn with his winged helmet, and wings onhis ankles (Fig 6). Take this casket and be off with you to the Underworld and the ghostly abode of Orcus himself. Present it to Proserpine and say: ‘Venus begs that you send her a little of your beauty, enough at least for one short day. For the supply that she had, she has quite used up and exhausted in looking after her ailing son (Apuleius, 1998, p. 101-102).’ The story then jumps again, skipping over the all of the trials given to Psyche by Venusand shows the end of her final trial, as three Amorini (as she is now again in Cupid’s favor), orPutti, bear her up to the heavens to bring the casket, held aloft in her left hand to Venus (Fig 7).It is within the next spandrel then, where Psyche presents the casket to Venus, who throws herarms up in a gesture of shock and surprise at Psyche managing to travel to the underworld andback (Fig 8). The story then moves from the spandrels to one of the two center paintings, as we seeCupid in front of the Council of the Gods, pleading the situation to Jupiter and asking for hishelp so that he and Psyche can be together (Fig 11). Several of the gods can be seen here,including Mercury (now also holding his caduceus), Neptune, holding his trident, Bacchus, withgrapevines in his hair, and of course Venus, standing beside Cupid. Moving back to thespandrels, Jupiter is shown, an eagle behind him with thunderbolts in its beak, kissing Cupid, asa show of agreement to Cupid’s plea (Fig 9). The final scene in the spandrels then, is Mercury,carrying Psyche up to the heavens (Fig 10), where the story ends with the second of the twocenter paintings of the wedding feast. As in the other center painting, several gods are seencelebrating the union of Cupid and Psyche; however one seems to be missing. The figure ofCupid is here replaced by a portrait of Chigi himself, and the painting thus becomes not only a
The Loggia of 8celebration of the union of Cupid and Psyche, but also of the union between Chigi and hisvenetian bride, Francesca (Fig 12). There is much speculation over what the tapestries on the walls would have included, asthere is so much of the story skipped in the spandrels. As previously mentioned, Venus andCupid in the first spandrel are most likely looking on as Psyche is worshiped as a human Venus.The next two tapestries are possibly shown by two drawings that have been discovered, the rapeof Psyche by Zephyr, and the Toilet of Psyche. If these are placed in order along the wallhowever, the story is not in order when alternating between spandrels and wall tapestries, butinstead the story might read along the wall first, and then go back to continue along thespandrels. The remaining space on the walls was probably taken with the portion of the story inwhich Psyche lights the lamp and causes Cupid to flee. It is unlikely that the story of Psyche’sactual trials were ever meant to be depicted as some of the trials are far too gloomy for theotherwise light, spring-like feel of a country villa loggia (Marek, 1983, p. 210-212). Handing her a cup of ambrosia, ‘Take this, Psyche, and be immortal. Never shall Cupid quit the tie that binds you, but this marriage shall be perpetual for you both (Apuleius, 1998, p. 105).’ The story was not only left incomplete however, aspects of it were changed. One reasonfor the alteration, as mentioned, was because the story was meant to decorate a loggia. Theother reason though, was that the story was altered to suit Chigi himself. In the story told byApuleius, Mercury is a very minor character who is employed by Venus to assist in locatingPsyche. In the story told by the paintings however, Mercury is elevated to one of theprotagonists, taking up the entirety of one of the end spandrels, being the one to deliver Psycheto the heavens, and also by taking the place of Jupiter as the one to hand Psyche the cup with theambrosia which will grant her immortality. This elevation would suit the tastes of Chigi as
The Loggia of 9Mercury is the god of merchants. Mercury’s role in elevating Psyche and handing her theambrosia displays how, through marrying Chigi, Francesca is elevated to a higher position insociety as Psyche is elevated from a mortal to a god (Marek, 1983, p. 214-215). The story, withPsyche’s trials before she could win back her husband, could even allude to the long years oftrial that Francesca underwent until she and Chigi were married. The placement of Mercuryover the door to Chigi’s office was likely intentional as well, symbolizing the business side ofthe villa, whereas Venus and Cupid opposite of him usher people into the loggia of Galatea, thepleasure side of the villa, where guests were often invited to dine (Oberhuber, 1999, p. cpy1-2). Another major alteration to the story is the role of Venus. Apuleius’ Venus is jealousand spiteful, Raphael’s Venus, while starting out Jealous, or at the very least displeased by theworship of Psyche, eventually sides with her son. In the Council of the Gods (Fig 11), Venusstands next to Cupid with her hand on his shoulder as if showing her support. When Cupidwent to Jupiter in Apuleius’ version, Jupiter sides with Cupid against Venus and instead has toreassure Venus that it will be an honorable marriage. It could even be speculated by thischange in Venus, that when Venus first sends Mercury out to find Psyche, she is trying to helpher son, not punish Psyche (Marek, 1983, p. 213). This change in Venus’ role allows for thefinal marriage celebration to be something in which Venus is in favor of, therefore implying thatthe marriage of Chigi and Francesca was a marriage blessed by Venus herself. Another aspect to the imagery presented in the ceiling, and often overlooked, are thepaintings of the putti between the spandrels telling the story. Each of the fourteen segmentsshows the putti with symbols of different mythological figures. Starting to the right of the firstspandrel, but going counter-clockwise instead, the first putti segment shows putti with thesymbols of Cupid as we see a putti in the center holding the bow of cupid and reaching behind
The Loggia of 10him to touch his finger to one of cupid’s arrows (Fig 13). The next segment is showingsymbolism of Jupiter as a storm cloud looms in the distance and a putti carries on its shouldersthe lightning bolts of Jupiter and is accompanied by an eagle (Fig 14). The third segmentrepresents Neptune with the putti carrying Neptune’s trident (Fig 15). Next, is the segmentrepresenting Pluto. In the center one putti holds Pluto’s pitchfork while to the left another puttistruggles with Cerberus, and to the right fly two bats (Fig 16). The next segment features thesword and shield of Mars (Fig 17). The sixth segment is a representation of Apollo. Apollobeing the god of archery, we once again see a putti holding a bow while accompanied by agryphon (Fig 18). The first segment of the corner leading up to Mercury is the putti holding hiscaduceus (Fig 19). The second segment in this corner shows a putti holding up a grapevine inrepresentation of Bacchus, with a leopard springing up to the left (Fig 20). Moving to the other side of Mercury, the first segment in this corner shows a putti withPan’s flute (Fig 21), and the putti in the second segment carries the helmet and breastplate ofMinerva (Fig 22). The next segment is in honor of a warrior god, possibly Quirinus, a godworshiped by the Sabines who was associated with Jupiter, Mars and Romulus, a fitting god todisplay romanitas (Fig 23). The twelfth segment shows the club of Hercules, so large it takestwo putti to carry it (Fig 24). The next putti carries Vulcan’s hammer and tongs while amassive fire erupts from the left corner (Fig 25). The final putti, the second which accompaniesuncertain attributes, flies between a lion and a seahorse (Fig 26) (Map of Loggia). The Loggia of Psyche is a prime example of how artists could take a well known storyand shape it to fit their patron and the setting it would be displayed in. If the room is indeedincomplete as it is believed to be, it is also an example of what an effect the unfinished state canhave on the telling of a story and how people regard it years later. The room as it is now excites
The Loggia of 11much speculation and wonder. A person could stare at the paintings in this room endlessly andconsider what the finished room would have looked like, and pick out all the different detailsincluded, all the way down to the different types of mushrooms included in the garlands (Map ofLoggia). Whether finished or not, the loggia probably pleased Chigi in the few years he couldenjoy it before his death in 1520. It created an opulent and lavish site that suited his tastes ascould be seen in the other works within the Villa Farnesina, and of course his chapels,specifically his burial chapel; the amount he spent on it being more than enough to build anentire church. The villa itself, Chigi’s own Villa of Love, could be seen as the Palace of Amor, right outof Apuleius’ story, where Psyche could be set down by Zephyr at any moment and spend her daylounging in the loggia or walking in the connecting garden while awaiting her mysterious anddoting husband. Possibly, this is very much the environment Chigi wished to create for his ownwife, a beautiful and lavish palace for Francesca to spend her time in as Chigi was off in town orin his office busy at work. Whether or not this was the intention, the Loggia of Psychedefinitely fit the country villa idea and created a beautiful and sheltered place to entertain, or justenjoy the outdoors on a nice day.
The Loggia of 12Figure 1 Figure 2Figure 3 Figure 4
The Loggia of 3Figure 5 Figure 6Figure 7 Figure 8
The Loggia of 3 Figure CaptionsFigure 1. Venus shows Psyche to CupidFigure 2. Cupid and the Three GracesFigure 3. Venus, Ceres, and JunoFigure 4. Venus in her chariotFigure 5. Venus before JupiterFigure 6. MercuryFigure 7. Psyche carried to VenusFigure 8. Psyche delivers casket to VenusFigure 9. Jupiter kisses CupidFigure 10. Mercury carries Psyche to OlympusFigure 11. Council of the GodsFigure 12. Marriage of Cupid and PsycheFigure 13. Putti of CupidFigure 14. Putti of JupiterFigure 15. Putti of NeptuneFigure 16. Putti of Pluto
The Loggia of 4Figure 17. Putti of MarsFigure 18. Putti of ApolloFigure 19. Putti of MercuryFigure 20. Putti of BacchusFigure 21. Putti of PanFigure 22. Putti of MinervaFigure 23. Putti of a warrior godFigure 24. Putti of HerculesFigure 25. Putti of VulcanFigure 26. Putti with a lion and seahorse