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Public Audience Chamber of the Summer Apartments

Angelo Michele Colonna (Cernobbio, 1604 - Bologna, 1687) and Agostino Mitelli (Bologna 1609 - Madrid 1660)

1637 - 1641
Fresco and dry tempera

“Radu tu parla e sii breve et arguto”

“Ogni bugiardo ben passa e non dura, merito e verità non passa e dura”

The first of the three reception rooms in the Grand Dukes summer apartment strikes for its impressive painted scenery exposed on the walls. Two masters of Bolognese perspective painting, Angelo Michele Colonna and Agostino Mitelli, were called in to create it. Ferdinando II de' Medici wanted them at his service to show off a space that could amaze all those visitors who were about to be received in audience. The hall gives the illusion of enlargement thanks to fake architectures breaking through the walls: staircases, balustrades, boxes and balconies welcome the various characters of court life, as ladies, children and chamberlains appear to be conversing - like in an imaginary theatre - with the bystanders being received. The inscription “Radu tu parla e sii breve et arguto” (Rarely speak and be brief and witty) alludes precisely to the purpose of the room. If the decorative perspective layout, with gigantic telamon and canephore figures supporting the wide balustrade, recalls the decoration of the Sala Grande of Palazzo Spada in Rome, the painted figures seem to be inspired by those of Veronese inside the Villa di Maser (Treviso). The allegory with the Triumph of Time stands at the centre of the vault, initially entrusted to Francesco Albani, and later commissioned to Colonna. Reality and fiction are the themes of this evocative space, animated by backlighting effects and luminous contrasts. The identification of Mitelli's or Colonna's contribution has been much debated: critics generally tend to attribute the conception of the perspectives to the former and to the latter much of their realization in fresco.


M. Mosco, L'appartamento d'Estate dei granduchi, in Palazzo Pitti. L'Arte e la Storia, Firenze 2000, pp. 90-104.

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