Visual Arts and Communication of Power

Višnja Bralić

The Iconographic Programme of the Wall Painting in the Rovinj Municipal Palace Council Chamber

Presentation held at the 14th „Days of Cvito Fisković“ Conference, Exchange of Artistic Experiences in the Adriatic Region; Orebići, Korčula, 30 September – 3 October 2014


Alongside cathedrals, municipal buildings represent the most important edifices in which the public life of municipal communities on the eastern Adriatic coast took place. City palaces and loggias are symbols of city's identity, but they also serve as places where the Venetian government could demonstrate its political power and mark its territory. The choice of themes and symbols used in wall paintings correspond with the official state and religious iconography of the Venetian Republic, but such works are known to us almost exclusively from written sources. The fully preserved wall painting in the Municipal Palace Council Chamber in Rovinj has thus proved to be extremely important for the iconographic analysis of the political representation of the Most Serene Republic throughout Venetian Stati da Mar at the end of the 16th century. It is the work of an unknown painter, dated by the inscription to 1584. The inscription reveals that the painting’s commissioner was Scipione Benzoni, a Venetian governor and rector of the town of Rovinj, a member of a distinguished noble family from Creme, which received the rank of Venetian nobility at the beginning of the 15th century.


In her presentation, the author performs a thorough analysis of the painting’s iconographic content and meaning, which glorify the state and city governance ideals. She explains the religious, allegorical and symbolical images accompanied by inscriptions, as well as the heraldic signs. In connection with the iconographic programme of the Serenissima, the allegories of virtue can be understood as the personification of „Good Government“. The author also explains the commissioner’s role in shaping the iconography that glorifies the Republic of Venice and her representatives in accordance with the goals of the state political propaganda. She compares the painting with the similar allegorical depictions found in Venice, analyzing possible models and explaining the motives derived from the local urban tradition that are connected with the rural beliefs and religious customs.