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Home English Famed bridal chamber reopens at Mantua's Palazzo Ducale

Famed bridal chamber reopens at Mantua's Palazzo Ducale


Mantua, April 2 - One of the most delightfully
decorated rooms in the history of Renaissance art has reopened
at Mantua's Palazzo Ducale three years after quake damage.
"This is a special day for Mantua and the rest of Italy,"
said Culture Minister Dario Franceschini as he cut the ribbon on
the newly restored Camera degli Sposi (Bridal Chamber).
The restoration project included the addition of a
collection of paintings donated by a local businessman and will
further enhance "one of the most beautiful cities in Italy,"
said Franceschini.
Mantua suffered when a series of earthquakes in northern
Italy in May and June 2012, with severe aftershocks, caused
widespread damage and took 26 lives across a swathe of
north-central Italy.
Restoration of the palazzo itself cost about 750,000 euros,
authorities have said.
"We are facing one of the masterpieces of the Italian
Renaissance," said Franceschini.
The Palazzo Ducale complex, built between the 14th and the
17th century mainly by the Gonzaga family, includes some 500
But among the most famous is the Camera degli Sposi, which
was frescoed by Andrea Mantegna between 1465 and 1474 and has
been praised for its use of 'trompe l'oeil' details and its
seminally foreshortened 'di sotto in su' ('looking up') ceiling.
The frescoes depict significant meetings and scenes from
the court of Ludovico Gonzaga.
The Court Scene on the north wall shows Ludovico Gonzaga,
dressed informally, with his wife Barbara of Brandenburg.
They are seated with their relatives, while a group of
courtiers fill the rest of the wall.
The figures are interacting in an 'illusionistically'
expanded space.
On the west wall is the Meeting Scene.
This fresco shows Ludovico in official robes in an ideal
meeting with his son, Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga, the Holy Roman
Emperor Frederick III and Christian I of Denmark.
The ceiling features a playful oculus frescoed with cherubs
peering down - apparently through the circular opening to a blue
sky above - into the room itself.
The palace's superintendent Giovanna Paolozzi Strozzi has
said the bridal chamber will be part of a new museum itinerary
including the St George castle.
As well, visitors can view the collection of Mantuan
businessman Romano Freddi who Strozzi said has given the Ducal
palace 85 works including a portrait of Francis IV Gonzaga by
The Gonzaga family lived in the palace from 1328 to 1707,
when the dynasty died out.
One of its most notable residents was Isabella d'Este, who
was born the year the bridal chamber fresco was completed and
who became a renowned patron of the arts who sponsored painters
including Titian, Raphael, Giovanni Bellini and Leonardo da
A portrait of her, attributed to Leonardo and thought to
have been lost, was seized in February from a Swiss bank vault.
As well as being a patron of the arts, Isabella was a
leader of fashion, whose innovative style of dressing was copied
by women throughout Italy and at the French court.
Diplomat Niccolo' da Correggio hailed her as "The First
Lady of the world" and the poet Ariosto called her
She served as the regent of Mantua during the absence of
her husband, Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua and the
minority of her son, Federico, Duke of Mantua.
In 1500 she met King Louis XII of France in Milan on a
diplomatic mission to persuade him not to send his troops
against Mantua.
She was a prolific letter-writer, and maintained a
lifelong correspondence with her sister-in-law Elisabetta
Lucrezia Borgia was another sister-in-law; she later
became the mistress of Isabella's husband.

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