"Fasti farnesiani" section
On the ground floor of Palazzo Farnese there is the "Stucco Apartment", composed by 4 stuccoed rooms (5-8), decorated in the years 1685-1688, upon will of the Duke Ranuccio II. The decoration was probably carried out by Paolo Frisoni, although we cannot exclude the intervention of other skilled artists who were working at palaces and churches in town (the Reti brothers, Barca, Cremona and Della Porta).
The stucco designs can be attributed to Andrea Sighizzi (Bologna, 1613 – over 1684), Ranuccio's II court scenographer. The brothers Ferdinando and Francesco Galli Bibbiena, who were already decorating the upper floor rooms in 1682, very likely contributed to the ground floor together with Sighizzi .
Duke Ranuccio II wanted the stucco frames to contain a cycle of paintings celebrating his dinasty: "Fasti farnesiani". Such paintings, following the self-celebrating trend of the major Italian Renaissance dinasties, aimed at confirming the prestige and power of the Farnese family, above all to other sovereigns and to their subjects too. "Fasti farnesiani", ordered by Ranuccio II celebrate the deeds of Paolo III and Alessandro Farnese; the first one was the founder of the dinasty and a protagonist of European history in the 16th century, while the second one was an internationally relevant figure, a military commander and Governor of the Flanders on behalf of Spain. The stories about Paolo III, whose real name was Alessandro Farnese (Canino, Viterbo 1468 – Roma 1649), are located in the alcove including two small rooms, the bedroom and the study, and were painted by Sebastiano Ricci (Belluno 1659 – Venezia 1734), a painter trained in Veneto. Among them, the most remarkable works are the paintingPaolo III nomina il figlio Pier Luigi duca di Piacenza e Parma(Paolo III appoints his son Pier Luigi Duke of Piacenza and Parma), for its pictorial quality, and the painting representingPalolo III ispirato dalla Fede a convocare il Concilio di Trento (Paolo III ispired by Faith to summon the Council of Trento) for its original ichonography. As to the deeds of Alessandro Farnese (Roma 1545 – Arras 1592) in the Flanders, we must mentionAlessandro Farnese riceve lo stocco pontificio (Alessandro Farnese receiving the pontifical rapier) by Giovanni Evangelista Draghi (Genova 1654 – Piacenza 1712). Besides Ricci and Draghi, other artists like Domenico Piola (Genova 1627 – 1703) and Marcantonio Franceschini (Bologna 1648-1745) contributed to the cycle. Not to mention Francesco Monti, known as Brescianino, another court painter who was very active from 1681 to 1695, specialized in sea storms and battles. The large painting Alessandro Farnese assiste alla distruzione dell'Invincibile Armada(Alessandro Farnese assisting to the defeat of Invincible Armada) is worth mentioning. Around 1680, Palazzo Farnese was a big yard; therefore, the reciprocal stylistic and ichonographic influence between the artists is a very interesting element. "Fasti" were carried on by Ilario Spolverini (Parma 1657 – 1734). Spolverini, court painter, developed the theme of "Fasti farnesiani" and created a new genre, the representation of ceremonies. He lived in Piacenza for 13 years(1714 – 27); here he painted large works, very likely at Palazzo Farnese. Namely, we owe him the "Fasti" celebrating Elisabetta Farnese (who became queen of Spain in 1714), which include the large paintingCongedo di Elisabetta dalla corte (Elizabeth taking her leave from the court) (1721-23) and the colossal three-part paintingIngresso del cardinale Gozzadini in Parma (Entrance of Cardinal Gozzadini in Parma), which are now displayed in the premises of the art gallery, but will be brought to the ground floor stucco apartment in the future.