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Giulio Romano

Sala di Psiche

Palazzo del Tè
Mantua, Italy

Site Description

The Sala di Psiche, located in the northwest apartment of the Palazzo Te, was commissioned by Marquis Frederico II Gonzaga between 1526 and 1528. Serving as a dining room, its painted walls and ceiling form a captivating canvas illustrating the love story between Cupid and Psyche.

The narrative of Cupid and Psyche unfolds across twenty-three scenes in the room. Octagons encircle the central marriage ceremony on the ceiling, intricately portraying the initial chapters of the fable. Transitioning downward, twelve lunettes, three on each wall, continue the story.

The use of oil and plaster within a metallic frame brings the scenes on the ceiling and upper walls to life. However, the lower sections of the four walls diverge in technique, adorned with captivating frescoes. On the northern and eastern walls, various images of gods, myths, and famous love stories intersected by the room's windows. The southern and western walls depict the joyous wedding feast, featuring gods, nymphs, and satyrs adorning the table with silver and gold plates against a backdrop of green foliage and flowing water.

The depictions from floor to ceiling symbolize the transition from the earthly to celestial realm. The repeating labyrinth pattern on the floor marks the earthly realm. As you ascend, frescoes portray both humans and gods in their flesh forms, representing the celestial transition. The journey culminates in depictions of gods towards the upper reaches of the walls, with the legal union of Cupid and Psyche at the heart of the ceiling ascending to the heavens.

To fully immerse oneself in the surrounding images, standing at the center of the room is essential. Giulio Romano employed extreme foreshortening in all designs, enhancing the overall illusion and ascent as you journey up the walls to the conclusion of the tale in the central square of the vaulted ceiling.


Credit & Support

Rendered by:

Eric Hupe

Model Details

Number of Photographs


Year Photographed


Camera Type

Sony a7rIV

Artist Biography

Giulio Pippi Romano (b. Rome, ca. 1499; d. Mantua, 1546) was an accomplished Italian painter, architect, and draftsman. Apprenticed as a boy to the illustrious painter, Raphael (1483-1520), Giulio quickly rose to prominence in Raphael’s roman workshop and was his brightest protege. Upon Raphael’s death in 1520, Giulio was responsible for the completion of many of the master’s commissions, inducing the Sala Constantino at the Vatican palace. Romano clearly absorbed Rapahel’s interest in classical subjects and appreciation for antique forms, however, distinguished himself as a preeminent Mannerist artist. From his teacher, Giulio also learned how to manage a successful workshop, supervising a company of assistants who completed commissions. In 1524, Baldassare Castiglione (Mantuan ambassador) convinced Giulio to leave Rome and accept an appointment as court artist to Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua. Under the duke’s patronage, Giulio completed his pièce de résistance, the construction and decoration of the Palazzo Tè, the private villa retreat for the duke and his mistress, Isabella Boschetti (c. 1501-1560). Giulio remained in Mantua until his death.


Mozilla Hubs Scene

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Selected Bibliography

  • Maurer, Maria F. “A Love That Burns: Eroticism, Torment and Identity at the Palazzo Te.” Renaissance Studies 30, no. 3 (2016): 370–88. (JSTOR)

  • Verheyen, Egon. “Die Malereien in Der Sala Di Psiche Des Palazzo Del Te.” Jahrbuch Der Berliner Museen 14 (1972): 33–68. (JSTOR)

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