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Giulio Pippi , better known as Giulio Romano (Rome, 1499 – Mantua, November 1, 1546) was an Italian painter, architect and decorator of the 16th century , prominent student of Rafael, whose innovations in relation to the classicism of the high Renaissance helped define the style defined as mannerism.
Romano’s drawings have been much sought after by collectors. The engravings of the time on his work were a significant contribution for the dissemination of the Mannerist style throughout Europe.
In his youth, as a young assistant in the studio of Raphael, Giulio Romano worked on many frescoes of the Loggias (galleries) of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, designed by his teacher, and also in the Estancias de Rafael of the papal palaces, In a group of figures for the fresco Fire of the Borgo, he also collaborated in the painting of the ceilings of Villa Farnesina.
After the death of Rafael in 1520, Romano helped complete the frescoes on the life of Constantine in the Apostolic Palace, as well as Rafael’s unfinished works, including Coronation of the Virgin and Transfiguration. In the city of Rome, he decorated Villa Madama for Cardinal Julio de Médicis, then Pope Clement VII. Romano’s frescoes lack the majesty and serene simplicity of Raphael’s works.
His first notable architectural works were made in Rome: the Villa Lante (1518 – 1521) built on the Janiculum Hill for Baldasarre Tunni da Pescia, and the Stati-Maccarani Palace (1521 – 1524).
After the Sack of Rome in 1527 and the death of Leo X, the Roman patronage decreases. The painter and chronicler Giorgio Vasari tells how Baldassare Castiglione was sent by Federico II Gonzaga to get Romano to create paintings and architectural and engineering projects for the Duchy of Mantua. Romano accepted such offers, and developed the rest of his career in Mantua.
His masterpiece of architecture and fresco painting is located in a suburb of that city called Tè: it is the summer residence of the Dukes of Mantua, the Palazzo Tè (1525-1534), with its famous illusionist frescoes, such as the set called El Olimpo characterized by its extravagant style and full of emphasis. The Palazzo Te is a construction articulated around a central patio being one of its main characteristics the harmony between the various classicist motifs that adorn it (metopes, friezes, Lombard bands, cushions, columbariums, etc.). Also there he helped to rebuild the ducal palace of Mantua, the cathedral and also designed the nearby church of St. Benedict. Several flooded sectors of Mantua were drained under the direction of Romano. He never lacked the Duke’s support and friendship; it is said that it charged more than 1000 ducats a year. His studio became a very famous art school.
According to the Renaissance tradition, many of Romano’s works were only temporary (ephemeral):
- Express the Vasari in “Vita”: “When Charles V came to Mantua, Giulio, by order of the Duke, built beautiful arches, comedy scenes and other things without peer, nobody like him for masquerades, or to make curious clothes for jousts, parties, tournaments, which amazed the emperor and all those present.For the city of Mantua, at various times he designed temples, chapels, houses, gardens, facades, and was so fond of decorating them, that on his own initiative he sanitized sites dirty, full of stagnant and totally uninhabitable water, in cozy and pleasant places “
Romano also designed tapestries, and the erotic album “I Modi”, which was expertly recorded by Marcantonio Raimondi, who suffered imprisonment in Rome for attacking the morals of the time.
In 1546, when he was appointed architect of the Basilica of San Pedro, Giulio Romano dies.
Giulio Romano has the distinction of being the only Renaissance artist mentioned by William Shakespeare. In Act V, Scene II of “The Winter’s Tale,” the statue of Queen Hermione is sculpted by “that rare Italian master, Julio Romano.” Significantly, Romano did not dedicate himself to sculpture.
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