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The great Italian artist Rafael Santi early left an orphan, but the first experience as a painter was in the workshop of his father, who drew at the court of the Duke of Urbinsky. Later in his work, Raphael focused primarily on the legacy of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. The vast majority of his works interpret religious themes, the most famous of which is the Sistine Madonna. However, in addition to religious paintings, the painter also creates secular portraits. Contemporaries noted the incredible similarities drawn with models; so, looking at the oil-painted portrait of Pope Julius the Second, people trembled as if the pope was alive.
Villa Farnesina was built on the banks of the Tiber by the banker Agostino Chigi - at that time it was a country residence. Enormous funds were thrown for the construction: Chigi bought up a great deal of art for his country house, and Rafael was invited to paint walls and ceilings with his students. The loggia of Psyche, one of the rooms of the villa, got its name by the name of the fresco depicted on its walls. This is the most striking and expressive room in the house, preserved in good quality to this day.
Rafael took the works of Apuleius as the basis for the plot of the frescoes. According to this poet, Psyche was a woman of incredible beauty, which caused jealousy of Venus itself (Aphrodite). The goddess sent her son Eros (Cupid) to plague the beauty. But Cupid fell in love with his sacrifice, and, after many trials, connected with his lover on Mount Olympus. Rafael depicted the key moments of this story - but the most famous part of the mural is a fresco depicting the meeting of Psyche by the gods on Olympus. Genre scenes are framed by giant garlands of flowers and fruits. Once Farnesina was surrounded by orchards with fruit trees, and these murals seemed a natural continuation of a flowering garden outside the windows.
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