Two Artists, Two Rooms, and the Development of Co-opetition at the Villa Farnesina

Culotta, Alexis R.
August 2014
International Journal of the Image;Aug2014, Vol. 4 Issue 4, p9
Academic Journal
The work of Raffaello Sanzio, Sebastiano del Piombo, and Baldassare Peruzzi at Agostino Chigi's 16th-century villa suburbana not only contributed to what would become known as one of the most impressive interior decorative programs of the day but also engaged in paragoni, or competitions, that resultantly impacted their overall artistic production. This paper briefly juxtaposes two of these instances of inter-artist engagement to propose the new concept of co-opetition, an extension of the paragone that accounts for the blending of both competition and collaboration in the pursuit of artistic greatness. The first co-opetition that we focus on is between Raphael and Sebastiano at the outset of the Farnesina's decoration and the second is between Raphael and Peruzzi near the decorative program's completion. As the following will show, these two engagements at the Farnesina served as essential bookends to a pivotal period for all three artists' careers, specifically that of Raphael. On the one hand, his competition with Sebastiano marked not only his establishment as an artist in Rome (as he had recently proven his artistic merit in the Vatican stanze) but also served as his inaugural commission from Chigi, in what would amount to a long series of projects over the subsequent decade. His exchange with Peruzzi in the two rooms, however, served as Raphael's grand finale, both for his commissions from Chigi and for overall career, as the Loggia di Amore e Psiche was completed only months before Raphael's premature demise in 1520. On the other hand, these two case studies reflect bookends, not so much as a "beginning" and an "end," but rather as an evolution of complexity of the paragone.


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