[Paper:] Dorit Malz (Florence): Jupiter and Neptune as Emperor Charles V and Andrea I Doria. Changing allusions at the Genovese court

Fall of the Giants by Perin del Vaga (photo: Sailko, CC BY 3.0 via wikimedia)

The iconographic repertoire of Emperor Charles V, who was traveling restlessly through Europe until his abdication, extends from tapestries and medals to countless ephemeral apparati using different personalities from mythology, history, and biblical history, like Hercules, Neptune, Alexander the Great, Furius Camillus, Augustus and so on. Thereby the commissioner glorified himself or as one of these prototypes or as an accompanying person. It was consequently adopted by  Italian rulers within their own artistic commissions. Within this context, we have to understand the decorative program of Andrea I Doria’s Villa in Fassolo, Genoa.

In 1529, Charles V visited Genoa on the occasion of his coronation as Emperor in Bologna by the Medici Pope Clemens VII. For this event, Andrea Doria transformed his Palace, the Palazzo del Principe in Fassolo, which has been erected in the 1520s from three previous buildings, into an “Emperor’s residence”. Between 1529 and 1530 and 1532 and 1533, Perino del Vaga developed a decorative program for the whole palace that served not only as a ducal residence but (temporarily) as well as an imperial residence. In Genoa, we have two ample halls – the so-called saloni – which respectively belonged to the apartment of Andrea Doria and his wife Peretta Usodimare. These are the Sala del Naufragio and the Sala della Caduta dei Giganti.

The still preserved ceiling fresco in the Sala della Caduta dei Giganti shows Jupiter fighting with his lightning bolts against the Giants. In the upper part of the wall, 18 lunettes are representing sea divinities. In the frieze beneath war trophies are represented as well as the weapon eagle. In a tondo above the fireplace, Prometheus is shown bringing fire to the humans. Originally, a tapestry cycle was hanging on the walls representing the love adventures of Jupiter (now lost).

The great hall with the central ceiling of the naufragio belonged to the wing of Peretta Usodimare. The fresco is now lost but can be reconstructed with the help of a drawing by Perino and preserved descriptions. It was complemented by tapestries with stories from the Aeneid. Like in the other Salone we have a stucco decoration and above the fireplace a tondo showing Vulcan’s forge. Aeneas is glorified as a hero, alluding with his virtuous acts to those of Emperor Charles and Andrea Doria. The monumental eagle above the fireplace refers to the weapon of the emperor but also to the admiral. The tondo above the fireplace refers as well to both rulers.

The delicate interplay of allusions in Genoa resulting from the (although temporary) change of attribution is remarkable. By deciding to renounce an exclusive feminine argument in the Sala del Naufragio it became possible for Andrea Doria at the arrival of the Emperor to take over the apartments of his wife and is, therefore, visible as incarnated Neptune. The representation of Charles V as Jupiter at that time has been a fixed component of ephemeral apparati, while the self-representation of Andrea Doria as Neptune is establishing only around 1530.


Born in 1977 in Berlin, I studied Art History and Italian Philology at the Universities of Greifswald, Siena, Arezzo and Berlin (Freie Universität). Received my Magister Artium in 2005 and my Ph.D. in 2009 at the Freie Universität Berlin. In 2007 I was a doctoral fellow at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz with a grant from the DAAD, from 2007-2009 I was scientific collaborator within the interdisciplinary project of the Faculty of Law at the University of Greifswald. 2010-15 teaching assignments at the Poggio Imperiale in Florence, various translation jobs. Since 2014 free collaborator of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence.

This paper will be presented at the international conference:

State-Rooms of Royal and Princely Palaces in Europe (14th-16th c.): Spaces, Images, Rituals – Lisbon/Sintra, 15-17 March 2017 (link)

which aims to put the Sala dos brasões in Sintra in its European context as a royal/princely state-room. It is a follow up to the “Heraldry in Medieval and Early modern State-rooms” held in March 2016 in Münster, which, for its part, focused on the heraldic décor of medieval and early modern state-rooms as such.

Cite the article as: Torsten Hiltmann, "[Paper:] Dorit Malz (Florence): Jupiter and Neptune as Emperor Charles V and Andrea I Doria. Changing allusions at the Genovese court", in: Heraldica Nova: Medieval and Early Modern Heraldry from the Perspective of Cultural History (a Hypotheses.org blog), published: 20/02/2017, Internet: https://heraldica.hypotheses.org/5394.

Torsten Hiltmann

Torsten Hiltmann is Juniorprofessor for the High and Late Middle Ages and Auxiliary Sciences at the University of Münster. He is interested in medieval and early modern visual communication and heraldry, the medieval notion of kingship and the methods and technologies of Digital Humanities.

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