Sixteenth-century artist and architect Giulio Romano died on 1 November, All Saints’ Day, in 1546 in Mantua. An acclaimed artist who participated in some of the most important and spectacular projects of the early sixteenth century, Giulio holds the honor of being the only artist referenced in the writing of famed bard William Shakespeare:
“that rare Italian master, Julio Romano, who, had he himself eternity and could put breath into his work, would beguile nature of her custom, so perfectly is he her ape.” (Winter’s Tale, V.ii.95-100).
Born in Rome 1499, Giulio enjoyed his most significant training as a young assistant to Raphael. As his skill progressed, he became increasingly essential to Raphael’s production. Giulio carried on his master’s workshop in Rome until 1524, when he left for Mantua to enter the service of Federico II Gonzaga.
It was there that Romano completed one of his most splendid architectural feats, the Palazzo del Te, that he subsequently complemented with remarkably illusionistic fresco imagery on its interior. Following his completion of projects at the Palazzo del Te in 1534, Giulio embarked on a visual program for Mantua’s Palazzo Ducale. Spanning the years 1536-1540, this extensive commission thus represents the last major project of of his career.
Battle of the Milvian Bridge, Sala di Costantino, 1520, Rome, Vatican Palace.
Courtyard façade of the Palazzo del Te, Mantua, c. 1525–35; Photo credit: Pollak/Art Resource, NY
Wedding Feast of Cupid and Psyche, 1528, fresco, Sala di Psiche, Palazzo del Te, Mantua; Photo credit: Scala/Art Resource, NY
Fall of the Giants, 1532–4, fresco, Sala dei Giganti, Palazzo del Te, Mantua; photo credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY