Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Oratory of Gonfalone: a secret place in Rome

Just off the beaten track of the touristy Rome is the Oratory of Gonfalone, one of the many secret places of the eternal city, today used for music concert .

This place is informally called the "Sistine Chapel of the Mannerism". In fact, the entire walls are decorated with a frescoes cycle representing the 'Passion of Christ' by leading artists of the Roam Mannerism, including Federico Zuccari, who was the only one who dated his fresco.

Federico Zuccari
The Flagellation (1573) 

The cycle is divided into twelve episodes, starting with the Entry into Jerusalem, to carry one with the different episodes of the Passion of Christ, to finally end up with the Resurrection. The scenes are framed by an architectural framework formed by twisted columns, which, according to an ancient legend, came from the Temple of Solomon. 

The decoration itself was conducted between 1569 and 1576, when Alessandro Farnese was the Cardinal protector of the oratory. Started under the direction of Jacopo Zanguidi, nicknamed Bertoja, the decoration was executed by several artists, including Federico Zuccari, who executed the theatrical Flagellation in 1573. 

The story takes place from the bottom of the right wall at the bottom of the left wall, according to a path from right to left, which corresponds to the natural movement of the reading.

Entry into Jerusalem by Bertoja

It follows on the same wall ....

Last Supper by Livio Agresti from Forli

The next panel is the...

Agony in the Garden by Domenico da Modena

Domenico da Modena could be perhaps identified with Domenico Carnevali, who was the first restorer of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, immediately after the death of Michelangelo.

It follows the Capture of Christ by Marcantonio dal Forno and then the last panel of this wall...

Christ in front of Caiaphas by Raffaellino Motta

The cycle proceeds with the Flagellation by Federico Zuccari, dated 1573 and surmounted by a prophet and a Sybil  always of Zuccari, flanked by the allegorical figure of the Charity. From the panel of Zuccari the point of view of the frescoes changes, according to an idea probably elaborated by Marco Pino da Siena (di sotto in su').

Flagellation by Federico Zuccari and Crowning of thorns by Cesare Nebbia

The work proceeds on the new wall with the execution of the Ecce Homo by Caesar Nebbia and the Slope of the Calvary by Livio Agresti. Then it's the turn of the Resurrection, the most damaged artwork. 

Resurrection by Guidonio Guelfi(??)

The last two panels are...

The Deposition of the Cross, perhaps work of a follower of Daniel da Volterra, identifiable as Giacomo Rocca.

 Resurrection of Christ by Marco Pino, most probably dated to 1572.

The Oratory was restored between 1999 and 2000 and my dad was involved in this operation and my thesis was based on this, so I would recommend a visit there if you go to Rome!

NOTE: All these photos were taken while I was studying and some of them were used for my presentation.

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