Room 8 State Room or Cage Room

State room or Sala delle Gabbie, formerly the Antechamber of the Apartments of King Victor Amadeus II

This space is the largest room in the apartment of Victor Amadeus II. The decoration began in 1723 and was undertaken by a Roman painter, Filippo Minei, who specialised in grotesques; he was commissioned directly by Filippo Juvarra. The architect advanced the sum needed for the artist’s voyage and board and lodging in order to assure his early presence in Turin. His work ended on 22nd May 1724, when he was paid lire 3900 and given free passage to Rome. Minei worked both in the Palazzo Reale (RoyalPalace) and in the Villa della Regina (Queen’s Villa), but here painted a work with hunting as its theme, decorated “a grottesche ed arabeschi”.

Classicising temples provide shelter for the female hunters, while all around are hanging cages containing birds of various species, surrounded by animals, fantastic figures and hunting scenes between animals. At the centre of ceiling, Diana-Selene travels across the sky in a chariot hauled by deer and carrying the full moon, preceded by Dusk and followed by Evening. All around are other mythological figures associated with Selene, another name for the goddess of hunting. The room has some lintels decorated with buildings in ruin and a number of characters, painted by Giovanni Francesco Fariano, Pietro Gambone and Domenico Olivero, who also painted pictures of “paesi” (landscapes) on the doors, now lost.

The decorations with cornices adorned with plant motifs and ending in a knot, made to contain portraits, date from the end of the 18th century. The room still preserves the splayed jambs of the windows and the wooden wainscot decorated with grotesques echoing those in the ceiling.


Did you know?

The style of Berain

“On ne faisait rien, en quelque genre que ce fût, sans que ce soit dans sa manière où qu’il en eût donné les desseins” (“We did nothing of any sort save it be in his manner or for which he had produced the plans”) stated Jean Mariette of Jean Bérain, Dessinateur de la Chambre et du Cabinet du Roi and animator of Louis XIV’s Menus Plaisirs.

Having arrived in Parisin 1651, he dedicated himself to engraving before broadening his production to include cartoons for tapestries for the manufacture ofBeauvais, porcelain, jewellery, cabinetmaking, the costumes for the ballets of the Roi Soleil, fireworks, roundabouts and the decoration of the royal fleet… The style “à la Berain” was inspired by grotesques and by Raphael, and was distinguished by the richness of the arabesques, details, flounces, plumes, mythological and fantastic characters, and always perfectly symmetrical ornaments.

Amidst some decorative panels dated 1680 and preserved in the Cabinet des Estampes of the Bibliothèque National in Paris, there are two dedicated to Apollo and Diana in which appear the models used by Filippo Minei for the Sala delle Gabbie.