Fall of the giants, Palazzo del Principe, Genoa


Fall of the giants, Palazzo del Principe, Genoa
(c. 1529)
   Perino del Vaga painted this ceiling fresco as part of the decorations of Andrea Doria's Palazzo del Principe. The scene, located in the Sala dei Giganti (Room of the Giants), depicts the Olympian defeat of the giants, sons of the earth goddess Gaia. Saturn, one of the giants, had devoured each one of his children because his father Uranus had prophesied that one of them would defeat him. His consort, Rhea, hid their son Jupiter from him and, once fully grown, Jupiter forced Saturn to disgorge his siblings (Juno, Neptune, Pluto, and Ceres). Together, they overthrew Saturn; Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto then divided the universe among themselves. Jupiter became the god of the heavens, Neptune of the oceans, and Pluto of the underworld. The giants rose up against them. To reach Mount Olympus where the gods presided, they stacked Mount Pelion atop Mount Ossa, but were miserably defeated by the gods and cast to the underworld. In the fresco, Jupiter is shown with thunderbolt in hand and the zodiac belt around him, a reference to his having brought order to the universe and established the seasons. Below, the defeated giants lay on the ground in contorted poses. The fresco reveals the influence of Raphael with whom Perino worked while in Rome, particularly in the arrangement of the upper portion of the scene, which closely resembles the composition in Raphael's Psyche Received at Mount Olympus in the Villa Farnesina (1517-1518). Doria's ally, Charles V, used the Sala dei Giganti as his temporary throne room. The fresco by Perino served as allegory of the emperor's victories against the Protestants.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.