P.22 II South: Loss of Perpetual Youth

P.22 II South: The Loss of Perpetual Youth

The central fresco: c. 1.60 x c. 2.575 m.

Fig.P.22, II S a bw, whole wall
Fig.P.22, II S b detail center
Fig.P.22, II S c detail right
Fig.P.22, II S d detail left
Fig.P.22, II S e full center
Fig.P.22, II S f bw, deceit at right
Fig.P.22, II S g bw, allegory at left
Fig.P.22, II S, Tapestry, a bw, full tapestry
Fig.P.22, II S, Tapestry, b bw, tapestry deceit

The four identical stucco vases that surmount the two pediments are different from those of four different designs in the Vienna tapestry (see below), but this need not mean that the vases in the gallery were as they appear in the tapestry which contains several other provable variations.  Furthermore, the tapestry shows stucco masks at the lower left and right where there are small shields in the gallery.  The predominant colors of the central fresco are dark wine red, dark green, grey, tan and white, with many of the drapery passages very bleached out.

PREPARATORY DRAWING: D.56 (COPY).  Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, B.5 réserve, Dessins de l’École de Fontainebleau, Vol. I, no. 19.  Allegory of Deceit.  Circular.  This copy of a lost drawing by Rosso for the round painting at the right of this wall is missing a number of details that appear in the fresco, most especially the bees that fly around Hecate’s head.  The architecture is more schematic and is also different in a few details; its proportions are not quite the same as they are in the fresco.  The lost drawing must have been followed by a cartoon that incorporated the changes that appear in the fresco, changes that can be recognized as having been made by Rosso himself.  Not only the bees in the fresco, which are iconographically significant, are attributable to him, but even such a detail as the man fleeing under the arch would seem his addition, and not an assistant’s, because it, too, elaborates the subject of the scene.

TAPESTRY: Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, CV/5. 325 x 620 (for media, see below).  Although faithful in most respects, the tapestry (Fig.P.22, II S,Tapestry, a; Fig.P.22, II S,Tapestry, b) changes the color and elaborates with a variety of details the frescoed parts of this wall.  For example, the standing woman with her face in profile just left of center has drapery over one of her shoulders, although in the gallery she is totally nude to just below her breasts.  The two putti above overlap the lateral beam, the pug dog below has a long leash, and the central scene, besides having additional flowers and grasses and more patterned draperies, also has books and a wind instrument at the lower left that do not appear in the fresco.  The most significant change is the appearance of the monster at the right which, looking reptilian and hence more like what seems to be intended by Nicander’s tale, is quite unlike Rosso’s vaguely swan-like beast, albeit with a leonine leg and a somewhat snake-like head.  The change of this monster suggests a slightly different interpretation of the subject from what appears in Rosso’s fresco, where the reptilian character of Nicander’s beast appears to be mitigated.  In the small circular area beneath the central picture the small animal has been identified as a chameleon by Lövgren, 1951, 72, Pressouyre, 1972, 109-111, and by Chastel, 1972, 152.  If this is true, and it is not clear that it is, then it is a change from the baby salamander that appears in the gallery (see Panofsky, 1958, 148-149), and hence also an alteration to the meaning of the decoration of this wall.  Above the salamander at the top of the tapestry there is a large repair that may indicate that something has been removed here (Pressouyre suggested a crown), although nothing now appears above this salamander in the gallery.

At the upper right of the central picture the group of figures before a flaming altar is gray in a blue landscape.  Another gray group before a flaming altar is in the very center of the scene.  The background is blue, the architecture gray-tan.  The ground and plants are green.  In the very center of the picture the woman on the gray donkey is blond.  Around her body is light orange-tan drapery.  Blue drapery falls over her left leg.  A white cloth with gold ornament is thrown over the saddle, beneath which, visible at the right is a red striped saddle blanket.  The sleeping nude woman at the lower left has red drapery shot with gold in front of her.  The pillow behind her goes from blue to white to gold and has pink tassels.  The pillow beneath the red cloth is white with gold and blue, and the instruments are white and gold.  Below her the books are pink, green-blue, blue, and red-brown.  The fourth, slightly open blue book seems to have music written on the one page that is visible.  Behind the sleeping woman the youth is dressed in light and dark green and he wears a red band around his light brown hair.  The little boy holds up his blue drapery and holds in it and in his arms various small pink, yellow, and blue flowers.  The standing woman facing forward just left of center has a bit of red ribbon in her blond hair; there is dark green drapery over one of her shoulders.  Her garment is tan-orange shot with gold and has a light blue sash at the hips; the skirt is blue but largely covered with a gold pattern.  At the right the serpent has a gray and brown body, a green neck, and light pink, blue, and green wings.  The old man behind the serpent with his hand up to his eye wears red drapery; the old woman to the right is dressed in blue; the next old woman has a gray cloak worn over a tan undergarment with red at its edges.  Behind is a fourth figure with a red cap.

At the top of the tapestry the putto at the left has red drapery behind him; behind the other putto the drapery is green.  The circular scenes have gray architecture and flesh tones, and blue skies.  A few details are blue and red.