Room 30 Cabinet of the four parts of the World


 Gabinetto delle quattro parti del Mondo , Apartment of the Prince of Piedmont, Sala di Pigmalione, Second Cabinet of H.R.H.

The second antechamber of the apartment of the Prince of Piedmont, the first son of Victor Amadeus II, has a painting on the ceiling, restored in recent years but visibly damaged by infiltrations of water. By Giovanni Battista Van Loo, it depicts the myth of Pygmalion, king of Cyprus and Galatea; it is quite visible in photographs of the 1930s. An important part of the room is the stucco frieze by Carlo Papa dated 1717, with a rich symbolic repertory, alternating with festoons and garlands. It represents the Four parts of the world, with the crown of the Prince of Piedmont on the sides, together with the collar of the Order of the Santissima Annunziata, while the symbols of the four continents appear in the corners.


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“The hieroglyphs of the four parts of the world, of which the distinct design of each shall be shown with the festoons adorned by putti and with flowers and other things produced in said parts of the World, all well-worked in relief”; thus reads the commission for the stucco decoration to be executed in the Second Cabinet of H.R.H. In the Palace of Rivoli. In the project for the interior decoration by Filippo Juvarra, the cornice acquired increasing importance, and the “hieroglyphs” became a narrative through images. In this case, they present allegories of the four continents: a large sun shining over wheat fields wrapped in pearls and reptiles, representing Asia, while a brazier from which leap flames amidst exotic plants, does for Africa. America is represented by a quiver, bow and arrows, and a crown of feathers. Europe shows a temple recalling that of San Pietro in Montorio, amidst cornucopias, arms and pastoral symbols of religious and temporal power.  These examples in Rivoli are the first that Juvarra produced in Piedmont, and he adopted them subsequently in Venaria Reale and the Palazzo Reale. Curiously, the same subject recurs in Rivoli on the first floor, in a room frescoed at the end of the century by the Torricelli brothers. Recent studies have highlighted that a stuccatore, Giuseppe Bolina, proposed the same subject for a private commission passed by the Laugier bankers for the drawing room of their estate in the countryside near Racconigi between 1770 and 1775.