Small room with painted architecture and harbours

This tiny room next to the majestic Hall of Roman glory, is characterised by a rich decorative system of a series of frescoes reproducing false architectonic frames. On the walls, recesses alternating with one another are adorned with geometric-floral motifs and pilasters decorated with hanging festoons, above which another frieze lies, divided into two levels.

The upper part of the cornice is decorated with beams adorned by heads of cupids alternating with the rich garlands and a horn of plenty sustained by eagles. On the lower part instead are the horizontal squares hung through ribbons, and two false paintings with frames. These paintings repeat the theme that is very dear to the Italian landscape artists of the 17th century, presenting sea views achieved according to the illustrious examples of the painters, Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain who developed a certain “brilliant” taste for nature, contemplated in the atmospheric variations and light offered by landscapes by the seaside, though remaining within the dictates of classic 16th-century tradition.,
Particularly important here was the choice not to directly collect the seascapes painted on canvas, but to have them reproduced as wall frescoes, framed by clearly illusionary architecture of the famous Lombard Mariani false front artists, who are attributed with the decorations of a great part of the halls of the first floor of this noble villa.
In the false frame located on the southern wall are portrayals of some boats (a galleon and a war tug) sailing in a gulf, and in the background, a glimpse of a town with a lighthouse. In the foreground, under a Robinia tree, a man seen from behind is observing the scene while other people are shown on the beach packed in a lifeboat heading towards the galleon. A woman is lingering on the beach with a little girl who is looking up at the sky, and a baby boy is wrapped about his mother’s shoulders with a piece of cloth.
In the painting hanging on the northern wall instead, are some ships docked close to a lapis mansion which gives a glimpse of the courtyard and loggia with a central fountain, populated by small figures moving inside. The ship at the extreme right of the composition is listing sideways, almost to the total indifference of the women and men on firm land. In the foreground are a knight and his dame going down the stairs leading to the water to get on a small boat, while a couple of men with broad hats are conversing and a young courtier seems to observe the scene of the fire with long binoculars.
The critiques advanced the hypothesis that the two objects – safe ships and sinking ships – conceal a kind of moral related to the unforeseen reserved by fate and the failure to receive help from one’s neighbour. If this interpretation were to be correct, this would allow us to date the painting to after the fateful year of 1665, the year in which Bartolomeo Arese lost his beloved son and heir. However, to be able to confirm this assumption further, study should be done with regard to the role of the people next to the burning ship, which is partially difficult to interpret due to the fresco’s imperfect state of preservation.