• Giulio Romano Mantova
  • Giulio Romano Mantova
  • Giulio Romano Mantova
  • Giulio Romano Mantova


Giulio Romano Mantova

Mantua: City of Giulio Romano
September 2019 - June 2020

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  • Giulio Romano Mantova
  • Giulio Romano Mantova
  • Giulio Romano Mantova
  • Giulio Romano Mantova
Amore e desiderio

Giulio Romano: Art and Desire

Mantua, Palazzo Te
6 October 2019 - 6 January 2020

Amore e desiderio

Giulio Romano: Art and Desire

Mantua, Palazzo Te
06/10/2019 - 06/01/2020

Thirty years after the great monographic exhibition in 1989, Palazzo Te again celebrates the genius of Giulio Romano with the exhibition Giulio Romano: Art and Desire, from 6 October 2019 to 6 January 2020.

The exhibition, curated by Barbara Furlotti, Guido Rebecchini and Linda Wolk-Simon, is an integral part of the program of exhibitions and events Giulio Romano is Palazzo Te (September 2019 – June 2020), promoted by the Fondazione Palazzo Te and the Municipality of Mantua, organized and produced with Electa publishing house.

The exhibition explores the relationship between the erotic images from the classical world and figurative inventions produced in the first half of the 16th century in Italy. Focusing on Giulio Romano's output, the exhibition itinerary highlights the widespread dissemination of an immense repertoire of erotic images in 16th-century artistic culture and reveals the influences existing between high culture and low culture in the production of such images.

Venus and Adonis
Giulio Romano: Venus and Adonis, 1516
Sanguine drawing, mm. 224 x 181, Vienna, Albertina

Amore e desiderio
Workshop of Willem de Pannemaker: Aglauros's Vision of the Bridal Chamber of Herse, c. 1540
Tapestry in wool and silk, mm. 4369 x 5410, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, bequest of George Blumenthal, © Archivio Scala Group, Antella / © 2019. Image copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource / Scala, Firenze

The exquisite objects on display come from twenty institutions in Italy and abroad, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Hermitage in San Petersburg, the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London, the Rjiksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Galleria Borghese in Rome, and the Galleria degli Uffizi and Museo del Bargello in Florence. They bring out the playful, inventive and at times subversive character of these artistic inventions and reveal the flexibility of the erotic theme in works ranging from drawings to paintings, sculptures, engravings, maiolica and tapestries.

The theme of the exhibition, enabling the public to explore a relatively little-known aspect of Renaissance art, is closely entwined with the setting. Erotic subjects and love stories are recurrent in the rooms of Palazzo Te, Giulio Romano's undisputed artistic masterpiece.

The exhibition layout opens with the theatrical presentation of the figure of Venus in an ancient marble, formerly owned by Giulio Romano, which he presented to Federico Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua.

The work exhibited reveals that ancient sculpture had a fundamental influence on the imagination of artists active in 16th-century Rome, in particular Raphael and Giulio Romano, and stimulated them to create new works with an overtly sensuous character.

  • The first section illustrates Giulio's youthful output at the time when he was active in Raphael's workshop, and in particular his contribution to the decoration of Cardinal Bibbiena's stufetta in the Vatican Palace (1515-1516), and the Loggia of Psyche in Villa Farnesina, Rome.

  • The second section is dedicated to I Modi, a set of 16 pornographic images, probably inspired by ancient sources, which were drawn by Giulio Romano, engraved by Marcantonio Raimondi and accompanied by licentious sonnets composed by Pietro Aretino.

  • The section entitled Art and Seduction presents an ancient and particularly faithful copy of Raphael's Fornarina, probably painted by Raffaellino del Colle, a collaborator of Giulio Romano, and Giulio's own portrait of A courtesan, again inspired by Raphael’s celebrated erotic portrait.

  • There follows the room devoted to the loves of the gods. With drawings and engravings, it shows the great success with collectors enjoyed by erotic subjects in the 16th century, when they were presented in the more acceptable guise of mythological tales and justified as translations into images of literary and poetic inventions.

  • The fifth section is the heart of the exhibition. It features the monumental painting by Giulio Romano entitled The Two Lovers, now in the Hermitage, which may have been painted shortly before the artist's arrival in Mantua, in 1524, and brought to the city of the Gonzagas as a gift for the Marquis Federico. The painting is flanked by two works of exceptional artistic importance, related to The Two Lovers by subject and chronology: a tapestry – spectacular by its size and the preciousness of the materials – of Mercury and Herse, inspired by a painting by Raphael for Villa Farnesina, on loan from Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) and a refined cartoon of large dimensions from the Louvre depicting Jupiter and Danae, by Perino del Vaga (another collaborator of Raphael), which must have served as a model for a tapestry (now lost) made on commission for Andrea Doria, from a series devoted to the secret loves of Jupiter.

    I due amanti
    Giulio Romano, The Two Lovers, c. 1524
    oil on panel transferred to canvas, St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum

  • The theme of the secret loves of Jupiter returns in the last room of the exhibition. Here a large cartoon depicting the love of Jupiter and Leda, inspired by an invention by Michelangelo, and the sensuous Danae by Correggio, commissioned by Federico Gonzaga in 1530-1532, show how 16th-century artists experimented with erotic subjects in competition with the school of Raphael.

The exhibition design will be by Lissoni Associati.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Electa.

Amore e desiderio

Opening Times

  • Summer time:
    Monday: 1 p.m. - 7.30 p.m.
    From Tuesday to Sunday: 9 a.m. - 7.30 p.m.
  • Winter time:
    Monday: 1 p.m. - 7.30 p.m.
    From Tuesday to Sunday: 9 a.m. - 6.30 p.m.

Closed on 25 December
Ticket sales end one hour before closing


  • Full price: 12 euros
  • Reduced: 9 euros
    visitors over 65, groups of min. 20 and max. 30 people, TCI members, FAI members, ACI members, citizens resident in the Municipality of Mantua, holders of the following tickets/passes: entrance ticket to the Vittoriale degli Italiani; ticket/season ticket Turin Piedmont, membership card of the Associazione Circoli Cooperativi of Lombardy, membership card Italia Nostra, membership card Mantova Outlet Village; Trenord train ticket with destination Mantua (date-stamped not more than three days earlier).
  • Reduced: 5 euros
    visitors between 12 and 18 years, university students
  • Reduced Special: Mantova Sabbioneta Card holders
    From 7 to 31 January 2020 the owners of the Mantova Sabbioneta Card will be able to take advantage of the virtual reality path at Palazzo Te included in the integration of € 4, to be paid upon entry;
    From 1 February, this integration for owners of the Mantua Sabbioneta Card will include a visit to the Giulio Romano Experience
  • Free admission
    children up to 11 years, 1 carer per group, 2 teachers for school classes, journalists, ICOM card holders, members of the following law enforcement agencies: Polizia di Stato, Arma dei Carabinieri, Guardia di Finanza, Polizia Penitenziaria, Corpo Forestale dello Stato, Vigili del Fuoco
  • Family ticket: 30 euros
    from 3 to 5 family members, of whom a maximum of 2 pay full price
  • Single ticket with Palazzo Ducale (active from 6 October 2019 to 6 January 2020):
    full 20 euros
    reduced 15 euros
    residents of Mantua and its province, holders of Mantova Sabbioneta Card


+39 0376 323266
#giulioromanomantova - #arteedesiderio

Exhibition press office

Fondazione Palazzo Te
Federica Leoni
ufficiostampa@fondazionepalazzote.it +39 0376 369198

Giulia Zanichelli

For press materials click below


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Giulio Romano Mantova.
01 Settembre 2019 al 30 Giugno 2020.