Semele Hall or Hall with Hearth that leads to the Gallery

The Hall of Semele is one of the intersections in the different customary routes leading to the diverse sectors that originally made up the palace. In fact, it ends in the area that constitutes the Vestibule and opens up to the “Grand Reception” area, so that in some documents this room is known as an Antechamber.

The simple vault of the pavilion does not have a lunette and has a frescoed medallion in the centre attributed by the critics to Giuseppe Nuvolone (1619-1793) and depicts “Semele Struck by Jupiter.” In the painting, the father of the gods appears seated on a cloud holding unbound lightning bolts, and at his feet is what appears to be an eagle. In front of him a young lady falling backwards with her left hand over her forehead stands out. Eros appears with a quiver full of arrows and a broken bow, in the lower left hand corner of the composition. He covers his face so he cannot see, while a cherub seems to have just arrived at the scene on the opposite side of the composition, to prevent the worst from happening. In fact, in mythology, Semele, daughter of Thebes Cadmus dies, incinerated by the lightning bolts of Jupiter after having implored him to appear to her in all his power. However, from their union, Dionysus-Bacchus was born, saved only by the intervention of the father who promptly pulled out the fetus from the flaming womb and hid him in his thighs where he remained until the time of birth.
The recklessness of the young lover of the god is, therefore, read as an invitation to the guests of the palace to maintain due respect and demeanour towards the lord of the house, and that they should earn and constantly deserve his trust and generosity without ever forgetting the power he had achieved and that was granted to him by God’s divine will.
Moreover, by observing the painting carefully, the attentive guest could gather once again, the clear political vision of the Arese family, that is, their loyalty to Spain, which is reiterated here. Jupiter, in fact, is portrayed resembling Philip IV of Hapsburg, king of Spain and governor of Milan, known to his contemporaries as a man extremely attentive to protocol, a lover of royal dignity and extremely impassive in public. Therefore, he is a king in his adult years unaccustomed to frivolity, and must be feared for his anger.
The vault of the hall is decorated by a rich border in stucco that frames the fresco, which displays four heraldic references of the Arese, Omodei, Odescalchi and Legnani families at the four corners. The composition finishes off with 18th-century depictions of cornucopias filled with fruit and the evident Borromeo crest.