Name of Object:

Council of the Gods


Rome, Latium, Italy

Holding Museum:

Borghese Gallery, vault of the Loggia

 About Borghese Gallery, vault of the Loggia, Rome

Date of Object:


Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Giovanni Lanfranco (1582, Parma-1647, Rome)

Material(s) / Technique(s):


Type of object:



The fresco was commissioned from Lanfranco by Cardinal Scipione Borghese to decorate the vault of a large room on the first floor of Casino Pinciano, designed at the time as a loggia opening on to the residence's park. The painter came up with the idea of a trabeated system (a construction using lintels rather than arches) painted in perspective along the perimeter of the walls, supported by pairs of telamons (supports or columns sculpted in the form of a man) alternated with lunettes (crescent-shaped spaces). The lunettes are open to the horizon and contain exemplifications of the rivers of the world. The central panel is a trompe-l'œil of heaven, where the gods are gathered in council among the clouds. Among others, we can see Jupiter in a central position between the female figures of Juno and Venus, and moving right: Mars, recognisable by his helmet; Apollo, his head framed with light; Mercury in flight; Bacchus holding a bunch of grapes; a faun seated in the foreground, looking down towards the viewer. In the centre, beneath the father of the gods, we can see Pluto and Proserpine with the dog Cerberus; on the left: Neptune and Ceres; Time with his scythe; Pan, with the features of a satyr and, on the edge, Minerva with an olive branch. The simulation of an open space and the extraordinary imagination with which the figures, freed in space, are arranged, are clearly inspired by the works of his fellow 16th-century countryman Antonio Allegri, known as Correggio, who painted the frescos in the cupolas of Parma. The amplifications of form and the capacity to express freedom of imagination clearly show the strength of his creative innovation, which in the Villa Borghese loggia fresco, is the precise starting point of the era of great Baroque decoration.
At the end of the 18th century, during the renovation of the residence, it was decided to close the loggia. Lanfranco's fresco was restored, beginning in 1779 and completed in 1782, by the Viterbo painter Domenico Corvi (1721–1803).

View Short Description

The painter Lanfranco carried out one of the first examples of Baroque painting in Rome for Cardinal Scipione, The Council of the Gods in the loggia of Villa Borghese. Originally an open loggia, the large room was decorated by Lanfranco employing the illusionist device of the “quadro riportato” from the Roman tradition. The Loggia was closed in 1779 before being restored by Domenico Corvi, a Rome-based Neo-Classical painter.

Current Owner:

Italian State

How Object was obtained:

Villa Borghese was acquired by the Italian State in 1902.

Selected bibliography:

Hibbard, H., “The date of Lanfranco's fresco in the Villa Borghese and other chronological problems” in Miscellanea Bibliotheca Hertzianae in onore di L. Bruhns, F. Graf, W. Metternich, L. Schudt (Römische Forschungen der Bibliotheca Hertziana, XIV, 1961), pp. 355–365.
Ferrara, L., “Domenco Corvi nella Galleria Borghese”, in Rivista Nazionale dell'Istituto d'Archeologia e Storia dell'Arte, XXI–XXII, 1976, pp. 169–217.
Ficacci, L., “Lanfranco e la nascita del Barocco”, in Bernini scultore. La nascita del Barocco in Casa Borghese, exhibition catalogue, Rome, 1998, pp. 332–355.
Giovanni Lanfranco. Un pittore barocco tra Parma, Roma e Napoli, exhibition catalogue, (Parma, Naples, Rome), Milan, 2001, cat. D23, D24, D25, pp. 370–372.

Additional Copyright Information:

Copyright image: Archivio fotografico Soprintendenza Speciale PSAE e Polo Museale della Città di Roma.

Citation of this web page:

Sofia Barchiesi, Marina Minozzi "Council of the Gods" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2024.;BAR;it;Mus11;20;en

Prepared by: Sofia Barchiesi, Marina Minozzi
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: IT1 26