marilyn stokstad


Robert Smythson, High Great Chamber (Hardwick Hall, Shrewsbery, England), 1591-97

At Hardwick Hall, a sequence of rooms leads to a grand staircase up to the Long Gallery and High Great Chamber on the second floor. This room, where the countess received guests, entertained and sometimes dines, was designed to display a set of Brussels tapestries with the story of Ulysses. The room had enormous windows, ornate fireplaces, and richly carved and painted plaster frieze around the room. The frieze, by the master Abraham Smith, depict Diana and her maiden hunter in a forest where the pursue stags and boars. Near the window bay, the frieze depicts an allegory on the seasons: Venus and Cupid represent spring, Ceres represents the summer. (Marilyn Stokstad, Art History, Volume Two. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008, 724).

Giulio Romano, Fall of the Giants (fresco in the Sala dei Giganti in the Palazzo del Tè, Mantua, Italy), 1530-32

Romano continued his witty play on the classics in the decoration of rooms in the Palazzo del Te. One depicts the loves of the gods, depicted in the marriage of Cupid and Psyche. he other room, Sala dei Giganti, is a remarkable feat of trompe l'oeil painting in which the entire room seems to be collapsing about the viewer as the gods defeat giants. Romano accepts the challenge Mantegna laid down in the Camera Picta of the Gongoza palace. Fall of the Giants displays distraction, amusement and enchantment to the viewer (Marilyn Stokstad, Art History, Volume Two. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008, 680).


Giulio Romano, Facade and Courtyard Facade of the Palazzo del Tè (Mantua, Italy), 1527-54

Rome ranked as Italy’s preeminent arts center as the beginning of the sixteenth century and wealthy and powerful families patronized the arts. Architects created fanciful structures to appeal to the tastes of the elite in Mantua, Parma and Venice. Frederico Gongoza lured Giulio Romano to build a pleasure palace. Palazzo del Te is not “serious” architecture and was never meant to be. Romano devoted more time to the gardens, stables, pools than he did to the living rooms and architecture - the building is a travesty of the classical ideas and columns; Gongoza would've known the classical orders and proportions so well that this would have been a humorous sight (Marilyn Stokstad, Art History, Volume Two. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008, 680).

Bernardo Buontalenti, The Great Grotto (Boboli Gardens, Pitti Palace, Florence, Italy) with sculpture by Michelangelo, 1583-93

The Great Grotto consists of four marble captives (originally conceived in the tomb of Pope Julius II) carved by Michelangelo. In its inner cave, there is a 1592 copy of Astronomy (or Venus Urania by Giovanno da Bologna). Water operated fountains and other hydraulics filled the grotto with noise and music. Water jets were concealed in the rock-work and could be turned on by the owner. Grottos were enchanting Renaissance features and were typically defined as stone recesses of irregular materials. Sculptures might support its earth and was often laden with other symbolism such as depictions of Muses and nymphs (Marilyn Stokstad, Art History, Volume Two. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008, 677).

Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel Ceiling (Vatican, Vatican City, Rome, Italy), 1508-12

Top to bottom: Expulsion of Adam and Eve (center), Creation of Eve with Ezekiel, Cumaean Sibyl, Creation of Adam (center), God Gathering the Waters (center), Persian Sibyl, Daniel, God Creating the Sun, Moon, and Planets (center). The spandrels and lunettes depict the ancestors of Jesus. Michelangelo’s ceiling established a new style in Renaissance painting. It is said that Michelangelo objected to the limitations of Julius’s initial order for the ceiling and that the pope told the artist to paint what he liked. This Michelangelo probably did but the commission probably involved an adviser and the pope’s approval, and a team of assistants. In the final composition, illusionistic marble architecture established a framework for figures in the vault; short pilasters are decorated with gold putti. Set within the frames are sibyls (female prophets) and figures of the Old Testament. In cornices are heroic nude male figures, ignudi, holding sashes with gold medallions. Fictive stone bands divide the center ceiling into compartments inside of which are painted scenes of the Creation, Fall, and Flood. God’s earliest actions are closest to the altar, the Creation of Eve in the center, followed by imperfect actions of humanity: Temptation, Expulsion, God’s destruction if all people except Noah and his family by the Flood (Marilyn Stokstad, Art History, Volume Two. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008, 671).