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Raphael’s Loggia of Cupid and Psyche Now in Exquisite, Digital Detail

villa farnesina rome

In addition to the many paintings that Raphael painted during his short life, the artist was also responsible for a roomful of frescoes in a Roman palace that is now known as the Villa Farnesina.

From 1517-1518, Raphael and his workshop painted scenes from the fable of Cupid and Psyche on the vaulted ceiling of the vast loggia for Agostino Chigi, a banker from Siena who originally owned this mansion on the left bank of the Tiber.

The colorful scenes, filled with flora, fauna, and half-clothed divinities, are impressive as a whole. But, as with Michelangelo’s works on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, it is difficult to see the detail that went into the frescoes.

Venus and Cupid in the Loggia of Cupid and Psyche, Villa Farnesina, Rome
Venus and Cupid, the first scene of the cycle in the loggia. Raphael painted Cupid while his pupil, Giulio Romano, painted Venus. The garlands festooned with various fruits and vegetables are by Giovanni da Udine.

But now, thanks to Rome’s Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei and Pisa’s Visual Computing Lab, these loggia paintings are available to view in exquisite, digital detail.

Virtual visitors to the Digital Loggia can zoom in on details that few have seen before. These include the narrative scenes of Cupid, Psyche, and other divinities; more than 50 types of animals; and 170 plant varieties from around the world. Raphael’s student Giovanni da Udine was responsible for painting the animals and the botanical elements.

Psyche in the Loggia of Cupid and Psyche, Villa Farnesina, Rome
Psyche as depicted by Raphael
Botanical detail of aloe vera in the Loggia of Cupid and Psyche, Villa Farnesina, Rome
Aloe vera, painted by Giovanni da Udine
Giovanni da Udine’s peacock (and many botanical elements) next to the legs of Raphael’s Venus. The toes on the right side are Giulio Romano’s Juno.

The Accademia dei Lincei and the Visual Computing Lab began the task of digitizing the art from the loggia in 2017 as part of the exhibition “The Colours of Prosperity: Fruits from the Old and New World.” The institutions continued with their project of digitizing the entirety of the loggia frescoes in the preparation for 2020, the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael.

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About Author

Melanie Renzulli has been writing about travel to Italy for more than 20 years.

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