Palazzo Altieri

June 9, 2010 / Art & Archaeology
Rome, Italy

altieri5It is highly recommended when at 17th century Palazzo Altieri on the one day a year it’s open (belongs to the Italian Bank Association) that you only look up. Try to take in everything and you’ll blow your Roman Baroque fuse for once and for all.

altieri2Not that the ceiling frescoes are exactly understated… word has it that Pope Clement X, (aka E.B. Altieri), didn’t finish decorating his palazzo because …get this… he ran out of money! No mean feat for a Pope right in the midst of the Counter-Reformation, the most opulent period ever for the Church.

Yet he sure got every penny’s worth. Allegories about “clemency” (get it? Pope Clement..), Triumphs of Romulus over pagans and Christians alike, Acclamations of Public Happiness and of other cardinal virtues abound.

altieri6But where he really got a bulk deal is on the putti (cherubs). Putti here, putti there, putti putti everywhere! It’s a veritable invasion of the cute little guys. Cute for the first 15 minutes of the tour, that is. By the time you reach the last of the 16 gran saloni you’re definitely having Wizard of Oz, creepy flying monkey childhood trauma flashbacks.

altieri4The quantity of them is truly prodigious.. hiding behind marble vases, hanging from vines, peeking out from behind your pick of any minor Goddess, Fate, or Muse, yanking Aeneas’ toga, chucking grapes at the onlookers, and if that weren’t enough, they also “hold”, duck, swerve and flit around the outside edges of the frescoes too!

Makes you imagine the interior decorator’s negotiation with the artists…

“Deal, 100 gold florins for each of you… but I want 2.8 putti per square meter at least, and make ’em chubby!!”

GB

by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

8 Responses to “Palazzo Altieri”

  1. GB’s are always the best!!! My places to visit gets longer and longer. BTW – what is that ONE day a year?????

    Reply
  2. hebegb

    Thanks!
    Last year (2009) it was the 3rd of October. This year is still not posted. Best bet is to go to palazzi.abi.it, pick the region, then city, then open the “scheda del palazzo” that you’re interested in and contact them or keep an eye out for dates posted.
    Enjoy!

    Reply
  3. Paulette

    Are there artist and architect names associated with P. Altieri?

    Reply
  4. Peggy Corrao

    We adored this, and your humor always adds the best flourish… your signature wit! Bravo, GB

    Reply
  5. TINA OLSON

    THANKS AGAIN FOR A FUN WAY TO LEARN, “TEACHER” MY WINDOW TO THE WORLD.

    GOD BLESS
    TINA

    PS: DID YOU SEE HOW HOT IT IS HERE RIGHT NOW OVER 100 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT SCARY FOR A NORTHERN GERMAN ALTE HEIDSCHNUCKE,

    Reply

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