Villa di Maser: Italian Renaissance Masterpiece

The villa was commissioned during the High Renaissance in the 16th century and stands in Maser, Veneto, Italy.

In the Veneto region of northern Italy stands an astounding monument to the lavish brilliance that emerged during the Italian Renaissance of the 16th century, with important direct connections to European royalty.

Welcome to Villa di Maser:

The villa was originally built for Patriarch of Aquileia and ambassador to Queen Elizabeth I of England, Daniele Barbaro and his brother Marcantonio, also a royal ambassador, to the French King Charles IX. Construction is estimated to have begun in 1560 and continued during most of that decade.

Andrea Palladio [Public domain]/Wikimedia Commons

This incredible Italian mansion is a work of art from its very foundation to the highest peak of its soaring ceilings, designed and built by Italian architect Andrea Palladio.

The manse is filled with sculptures by Alessandro Vittoria, and every inch of wall--as well as the ceiling above--is adorned with frescos by Paolo Veronese. Both were prominent Italian artists of the time.

Paolo Veronese [Public domain]/Wikimedia Commons

While Daniele was the known connoisseur of the arts, the villa was intended mostly for the use of Marcantonio and his descendents. It passed from the last of the Barbaro through several other wealthy family lines before coming into the hands of the current owners the Volpi, descendents of Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata, founder of the Venice Film Festival.

The villa, restored from ruins in the mid-19th century, later served as headquarters to a general of the Italian Third Army during the First World War.

In reference to the many frescos covering the interior walls and ceilings, Wikipedia summarizes:

The interior of the piano nobile is painted with frescoes by Paolo Veronese in the artist's most contemporary style of the period. These paintings constitute the most important fresco cycle by this artist and were inspirational to many of the frescoes painted by other villa artists at that time. The frescoes have been dated to the beginning of the 1560s, or slightly before. To describe the frescoes by room: in the Hall of Olympus, Veronese painted Giustiniana, mistress of the house and wife of Marcantonio Barbaro, with her youngest son, wetnurse and the family pets, a parrot and spaniel dog. The family dog also appears in another room, The Room of the Little Dog. The Crociera room depicts imaginary landscapes and the villa's staff peering around trompe-l'œil doors. The Room of the Oil Lamp has images symbolizing virtuous behavior and strength. The Bacchus Room shows winemaking scenes and a chimneypiece carved with the figure of Ambundance, reflecting the bucolic ideals and splendor of the villa. The ceiling fresco of the north salon is a depiction of the planets represented by classical deities, which are linked to the signs of the zodiac. Gaia, the Earth goddess, is apparently depicted astride a dragon.

In one room is a larger-than-life self-portrait of the artist himself, giving one a distinct impression of the visionary behind the paintings.

In addition to the main home, the villa complex features a temple, as well as a farm whose wine products are named after the villa.

Villa di Maser, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, is open to the public.

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