By Martina Bollini

Italian painter and architect Girolamo Genga died on 11 July 1551 in Urbino. Born in the same city, Genga trained with Luca Signorelli and Piero Perugino. During his early formation, he befriended with the young Raphael, who was also from Urbino.

Genga worked for the Urbino dukes as designer of ephemeral architectures. In 1508 he is recorded as having helped design the decorations for Guidubaldo da Montelfeltro’s funeral. Genga also contributed to theatrical works, painting scenes for plays. He probably designed the decoration of the famous performance of cardinal Bibbiena’s La Calandria, staged in Urbino in 1513.

When Guidubaldo’s successor, Francesco Maria I della Rovere, was expelled from his duchy by Pope Leo X in 1516, Genga followed him to Mantua. In 1522 the duke was steadily reinstalled in Urbino and Genga was awarded for his loyalty becoming court artist and architect. As such, he designed the Villa Imperiale in Pesaro, where Genga assembled an outstanding team of artists, including Agnolo Bronzino, Dosso and Battista Dossi, Francesco Menzocchi, and Raffaellino dal Colle. The Villa was intended as a gift from the Duchess Eleonora Gonzaga to her husband Francesco Maria, as reported by two inscriptions provided by Pietro Bembo.

Upon Genga’s death, his son Bartolommeo, a respected architect, continued the building of the Villa Imperiale and of the church San Giovanni Battista in Pesaro. 

Reference: M. Grasso, GENGA, Girolamo, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 53 (2000)

Flight of Aeneas from Troy, 1507-10, fresco, Siena, Pinacoteca Nazionale

Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, tempera on wood, Firenze, Uffizi

Disputation over the Immaculate Conception, 1516-18, oil on panel, Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera (originally in the church of Sant’Agostino at Cesena)

Church of San Giovanni Battista, Pesaro, 1543-1656

Villa Imperiale – Courtyard, Pesaro

Ceiling decoration, 1530-32, fresco, Pesaro, Villa Imperiale, Camera dei Semibusti

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