The room, used as an atrium, is located at the centre of the two royal apartments.
The decoration was completed between 1718 and 1722 in conformity with Filippo Juvarra’s instructions, with the ceiling painting shown the meeting of Bacchus and Ariadne executed by a Tuscan painter called Sebastiano Galeotti.
The walls are decorated with fine stuccoes by a team from Lugano under Somasso. They show the symbols of power: a crown, a staff of command and sceptre, while the two niches with marble busts by Bernardino Falconi were formerly in the Palazzo Reale but were wanted here by Juvarra. They show Maria Giovanna of Savoy-Nemours, second Madame Reale, as Diana, and her husband Charles Emmanuel II, as Adonis, or Love.
Completing the decoration in the room are the end niches, called buffetti, adorned with grotesques, putti and flowers. These were painted by Francesco Fariano between 1729 and 1730. Thanks to an autograph drawing by Filippo Juvarra, we know that the gilt shelves were used to display porcelain.
The splendid floor with marbles of three difference colours – black from Como, white from Busca, grey from Valdieri – is original; the unusual three-dimensional effect was created by Carlo Berardo in 1725.
At present, three significant pieces that were still present in the room in 1846 are missing: a green marble pedestal with three small putti supporting the bust of Queen Maria Teresa of Austria, today at the Castello di Racconigi. The second is a “marble picture in relief” showing Anna Cristina Ludovica, Princess of Piedmont. The last is the famous yellow marble “punch table”, which according to tradition was damaged by a blow thrown by Victor Amadeus II in a moment of anger.
Did you know?
(Florence, 22 December 1675 – Mondovì 16 October 1741)
“His brushwork is rapid, confident and of a good impasto, both in oils and in fresco”, stated a contemporary of Sebastiano Galeotti, a Florentine and much-travelled painter who worked in the most important courts of northern Italy.
“Galeotti was in Turin three times. The first time invited by the Counts of Guarena to decorate a drawing room and a gallery with painting”, and “at the same time, his worth becoming known to the King, he was sent [by the sovereign] to the delightful residence at Rivoli to paint the Royal atrium…” states Carlo Giuseppe Ratti, one of his biographers.
Behind the commission from Victor Amadeus II, of course, lay the appreciation of Filippo Juvarra for the painter, whose work he had seen during a visit to Parma in 1706, and through a great friend of his, Carlo Giacinto Roero di Guarene.
The subject chosen for this ceiling, depicted in the typical manner of Arcadia, were Ovid’s Fasti, which accorded well with the intended use of the room, linking the king’s rooms to those of his wife.
This mythological tale provided a theme for the stage set executed by Galeotti for the Teatro Regio in 1740.