Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas in Viterbo with Sebastiano del Piombo

Another reason to visit the city of Viterbo during the Christmas -New Year's period is the  special exhibit of two enormous  Sebastiano del Piombo  paintings. 
The exhibit is open daily until  7 p.m.  free of charge and is a good chance  to  see the  interior of the   magnificent Palazzo dei Priori with its frescoed rooms.  The paintings  are usually kept in the city's Civic Museum  which has been closed  for over a year now due to structural problems. 
La Pietà 

The nocturnal Pietà  was painted  between 1513 and 1516 following designs  by Michelangelo who also did the   carboncino sketches, a face and a full figure, visible on the painting's retro. 
In the background  are the hot baths  that Viterbo was (and still is)  known for . 
The masculine  Madonna  is probably  one of the  most unusual  portraits of Mary  ever done. The painting  is full of esoteric, mysterious   symbols  which have been well explained  by Andrea Alessi in his  book Dante, Sebastiano e Michelangelo  -L'Inferno nella Pietà di Viterbo  (Electa, 2007).

The Flagellation 
The Flagellation  of Christ, completed by Sebastiano del Piombo  in 1525, was also comissioned by Giovanni Botonti for  a church of Viterbo and also  based on sketches of Michelangelo who did a similar one for the chapel of San Pietro in Montorio in Rome.  

Palazzo dei Priori, Viterbo's city hall
entrance  to the City Hall's Sala Regia 
The entrance to the  exhibit is  through this doorway. Note the coat of arms of Pope Julius II  della Rovere, the reigning pope  under whom Michelangelo and Sebastiano del Piombo  both worked.   

As you go up to the main floor, piano nobile,  you will be able to visit the palazzo's  former chapel,  which until now has been  closed to the public. 

 It  has beautiful stucco work, gilded ceilings and frescoes.  The model of Santa Rosa,  set up in the center of the room, is the pinnacle of the Macchina di Santa Rosa.
There are several blog posts  to help you  find out more about  Santa Rosa and Viterbo,  just use the search  bar at the top of the blog page. 

frescoed  chapel 

Santa Rosa  statue 

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  1. Per chi volesse approfondire sulle due opere di Sebastiano del Piombo rimando al mio volume edito da Electa-Mondadori nel 2007:
    Consiglio inoltre di leggere anche l'ultimo volume di Mary Jane, veramente molto bello!

  2. I agree with Vittorio Sgarbi about l thing.. the huge black boxes with side lights were not necessary to enclose the paintings, and the lights make them difficult to see .

  3. posso mettere un link al tuo post nel blog dedicato ai visitatori della Tuscia, presto on line?

  4. certamente, sono onorata che il blog piace anche agli italiani residenti a Viterbo


  5. I love these shots! The atmosphere - lonely, but beautiful - is incredible. Wow!