Friday, January 9, 2015


In the late 1520s the French king Francis I caused a new gallery to be built at his palace of Fontainebleau. During the next decade the King recruited numerous Italian artists to supply suitably exotic decorations on grand historical and mythological themes. The resulting Mannerist frescoes, much influenced by Michelangelo, boosted the reputation of Francis as a monarch of advanced taste. The two chief painters were Rosso Fiorentino (1494-1540) and Francesco Primaticcio (1504-1570). Retrievable images of the frescoes came supplied with titles in Italian, which I have retained.

Elefante reale

Cleobi e Bitone

Bagno di Pallade


Lotta tra Centauri e Lapiti


Morte di Adone

Educazione di Achille

Vendetta di Nauplio

"The most amazing thing about history is how easily it disappears. The dead are truly wiped away; their monuments are used merely to regulate traffic; their books are grassy country graves. Every person who lives is the barbarian of what has just lived. If we look into the past, we find only a stubborn reverberation of images, a droning of harsh voices. And in between are vast opaque zones without sound. The invisible are grateful to us if we perceive this awesome distance, this majestic muteness. They reserve their greatest contempt for those who treat the past with cordial familiarity." 

– Roberto Calasso
The Ruin of Kasch