The frescoes in the Castle of Spezzano were made by the Cremona-born painter Cesare Baglione between 1587, when Marco Pio di Sassuolo married Clelia Farnese, and 1599, when the contractor was murdered. Baglione’s imaginary towns were in fact quite realistic, and may have been inspired by the Flemish engravings on the market at that time: mountains, lakes, and rivers filled with fantastic ruins, yet quite believable, as the artist mixed and matched in an arbitrary and playful fashion examples of contemporary architecture with topographic drawings. This was a rich collection of geopolitical imagery: the portraits of cities and the landscape paintings of ‘states’ reflect an idea of territorial power. The landscapes and the architecture set within them are closely intertwined, with the Castle’s rooms and the imaginary landscapes on their walls: nature is depicted as a pre-Baroque theatre of marvels, halfway between science and wonder.
Photo credits: Lucio Rossi.