Farnese Palace
Palazzo Farnese is a prominent High Renaissance palace in Rome, which currently houses the French embassy in Italy. First designed in 1517 for the Farnese family, the palace building expanded in size and conception when Alessandro Farnese became Pope Paul III in 1534, to designs by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, its building history involved some of the most prominent Italian architects of the 16th century, including Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, Michelangelo, Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola and Giacomo della Porta. 

Construction began in 1515 after one or two years of preparation, commissioned by Alessandro Farnese. Work was interrupted by the Sack of Rome in 1527. When, in January 1534, Cardinal Alessandro became Pope Paul III, the size of the palace was increased significantly and he employed Michelangelo who completed the redesigned third story with its deep cornice and revised the courtyard as well. The post-1534 developments were not only a reflection of Alessandro's change in status but employed architecture to express the power of the Farnese family, much as at their Villa Farnese at Caprarola. The massive palace block and its facade dominate the Piazza Farnese.

Architectural features of the main facade include the alternating triangular and segmental pediments that cap the windows of the piano nobile, the central rusticated portal and Michelangelo's projecting cornice which throws a deep shadow on the top of the facade. Michelangelo revised the central window in 1541, adding an architrave to give a central focus to the facade, above which is the largest papal stemma, or coat-of-arms with papal tiara, Rome had ever seen. When Paul appeared on the balcony, the entire facade became a setting for his person. The courtyard, initially open arcades, is ringed by an academic exercise in ascending orders ( Doric, Corinthian, and Ionic). The piano nobile entablature had a frieze with garlands added by Michelangelo. On the garden side of the palace, which faced the River Tiber, Michelangelo proposed the innovatory design of a bridge which, if completed, would have linked the palace with the gardens of the Vigna Farnese, Alessandro's holding on the opposite bank, that later became incorporated into the adjacent villa belonging to the Chigi family, which the Farnese purchased in 1584 and renamed the Villa Farnesina. While the practicalities of achieving this bridge remain dubious, the idea was a bold and expansive one. During the 16th century, two large granite basins from the Baths of Caracalla were adapted as fountains in the Piazza Farnese, the "urban" face of the palace. The palazzo was further modified for the papal nephew Ranuccio Farnese by Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola. It was completed for the second Cardinal Alessandro Farnese by Giacomo della Porta's porticoed facade towards the Tiber which was finished in 1589.


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