Niccolò Berrettoni’s frescoes in Villa Cattani Stuart

Niccolò Berrettoni (1637 – 1682) was an Italian painter from the Baroque period.

Born in Macerata Feltria, as a young boy he studied under his master Simone Cantarini in Pesaro and after his master’s death moved to Rome around 1670 to work in Carlo Maratta’s studio. Thanks to Carlo Maratta, he obtained important work assignments.

Berrettoni’s legacy to the city of Pesaro resides on the piano nobile of Villa Cattani (17th century) thanks to its splendid frescoes, restored by our property in 2021 and now admirable free of charge for all guests of the structure.

Here is a foretaste of what you can admire live during your stay at Villa Cattani Stuart.

Trionfi d’amore – Alamanno Salviati Hall

Affresco "Trionfi d'Amore" di Berrettoni a Villa Cattani Stuart

The grandiose aspect of the entrance hall makes the idea of how challenging but also highly effective the decorative apparatus of the entire noble floor as.

The majestic oval fresco, enriched by a frame painted with motifs imitating relief stuccoes, opens onto a bright and light sky, animated by some of the Olympians, seated on very clear clouds draped in light cloths shiny as silk and highlighted in gold, worthy of admiration for the boldness of the perspective view with which Berettoni represented them.

The iconographic definition of the characters is clearly expressed through symbols and attibutes: we can admire Jupiter offering arrows and crown to Love, the central fulcrum of the whole painting, Hercules and Onfale, Bacchus and Ariadne, Mars, satyrs and nymphs, all involved in the joyful celebration of Love in all its forms.

The main character, Love, is represented here as a tender childhish figure, who stirs under the intense blue-green of a cloth supported by three cherubs.

On the sides of the room we can see, starting from the right, the coat of arms of the Cattani family, the one of the Papal Legate Cardinal Alemanno Salviati (in the center) and the one of the Counts Bolis (on the left).

Trofei di Guerra e Panoplie – Berrettoni Hall

Trofei di Guerra e Panoplie - Sala Berrettoni a Villa Cattani Stuart

The ceiling of this room has an admirable and well-preserved decoration and is frescoed with tools of war and panoplies (a set of weapons and armor arranged in a trophy); it also refined by floral decorations. The room is decorated by an overhanging stucco frame and angular shells.

These ones, characteristic of the Baroque period, are richly present throughout the Villa both in the form of stucco and of pictorial decoration.

Allegoria dell’Aurora – Musica Hall

Allegoria dell'aurora - Berrettoni

The most elegant, surprisingly free and original iconographic invention Berrettoni has ever painted can be found in the central mirror on the ceiling of the room overlooking the magnificent garden.

In a sky softly illuminated by the first light of the morning that rises to the right, the white-dressed Aurora, crowned with roses and with open wings, hovers in flight carrying a lighted torch in her hand and, with her, two swallows fly up. Below, the beautiful image of the Night opens her wings, as brown as the robe she wears, and in her flight she carries with her two small bats and the curtain of darkness, blue and starry.

The richness of the frescoed frame, further enriched by the four ovals with the representation of the Fates and the Time, concludes the main scene both pictorially and symbolically.

Allegoria della Primavera – Galleria dei Papi

Allegoria della Primavera nella Galleria dei Papi e Villa Cattani Stuart

The accuracy of the drawing, the refinement and the balance of the system are clear signs of a strong artistic personality, now fully achieved – the one Berrettoni expressed in the Roman works starting from 1675.

Therefore, they could attempt a dating from 1679-80, years of the Roman decoration of the Vivaldi chapel, but here, even more than elsewhere, the freedom of his creativity was expressed in the ways that predict the Eighteenth Century, both in the chromatic transparency and in the joyful brightness, which distinguishes how much of the original decoration survives in the Villa.

In fact, the same characteristics appear in the graceful figure dressed in white crowned with flowers and surrounded by cherubs, which gracefully illuminates the lowered barrel vault of the gallery and suggests an allegory of spring.

Le Grottesche – Grottesche Hall

Affresco delle Grottesche di Berrettoni a Villa Cattani Stuart

This room painted in a “grotesque” style is almost certainly a work following the Berrettoni period, probably painted between the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The term “a grottesca” comes into use in the first half of the 16th Century following the discovery of ancient wall decorations in the rooms of the Nero’s Domus Aurea.

The “grotesque” decoration is characterized by the representation of hybrid beings, chimeras, often portrayed in a slander form and which blend with geometric and naturalistic decorations, structured in a symmetrical way, on a generally white or monochrome background.

We find this type of decoration in the Vatican loggias painted by Raffaello and on other works realized by artists of the period, such as Filippino Lippi and Pinturicchio.

The gallery of the Popes

The gallery of the Popes, which leads to the deconsecrated chapel used by Cardinal Alemanno Salviati, reveals an interesting play of perspectives by looking at the ovals placed between the walls and ceilings of the gallery.

These six ovals surrounded by impressive plaster decorations have a pronounced roundness. Thanks to this particular feature, the six mythological figures contained in them change according to where they are observed.

These six figures are: Jupiter, Venus, Pluto, Diana, Apollo and Mercury.


In front of the chapel it is possible to admire two paintings depicting two important characters, Pope Sisto IV, the one who worked for the recovery of the decorations and frescoes of the Sistine Chapel (hence the name) and Pope Clement XI, belonging to the Albani family, the whose descendants still live in the Province of Pesaro and Urbino.

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