Baldassarre Castiglione recommended: “Let the courtier come and make music: to pass the time[…] and never in the presence of ignoble people, nor of great crowds”.
Back then, music always accompanied convivial gatherings. Between 1550 and 1552, Nicolò dell’Abate decorated Palazzo Poggi’s piano nobile with paintings depicting scenes from the lives of aristocrats, perhaps those from Bologna itself, in the Hall of Concerts and of the Labours of Hercules. The hall is decorated with four scenes of life at court, and four others depicting the labours of Hercules. This symbol of physical vigour, generous and altruistic, and thus a paragon of virtue, is set off against the pleasures of the aristocratic elite, which the artist illustrates brilliantly, especially in the portrait of a noblewoman who is offered a cup of wine and the two concerts showing aristocrats playing music.