Central hall, Hunting residence of Stupinigi

The heart of the residence is the large oval hall with its highly suggestive concave – convex balconies. Four lower arms start from the central hall to form a cross of Sant’Andrea, where the royal apartments and those for guests are located. The themes of the decoration of the rooms are a hymn to the hunting practice and the sumptuousness of the details, the rich testimonies of Italian Rococo style furnishings, the precious materials are testimony to the pomp and refinement of the court.

The hall is a example of Italian rococo, finely decorated and rich in frescoes, sculptural elements, bas-reliefs, stuccoes, paintings among gilded stuccos, frescoes, lacquers, paintings, magnificent furnishings, the value of which is constantly kept alive.

The central hall, the core of the building, was the first idea of Juvarra to be completed and the focus around which its entire building complex was developed. The room consists of a large oval-shaped room culminating in a dome enclosed by a vaulted ceiling. The hall was completed in 1730 and on 10 February 1731 the king commissioned to the Bolognese brothers Giuseppe and Domenico Valeriani a large fresco on the vault, depicting the Triumph of Diana, the classic goddess of hunting that appears between the clouds, above a celestial chariot overlooking woods. Around there are also putti with game or wreaths of flowers, flanked by nymphs. At the apex of the four pillars that support the dome of the hall, just below the large fresco, there are four monochromatic medallions representing similar episodes related to the same deity. The works for the realization of such frescoes began already on March 8th, ending in 1733. Juvarra imposed a quadrature scheme on the two brothers so as not to ruin his complex overall design.

After Juvarra left, his idea to place large sculptural groups of dogs and deer in the large windows of the salon was abandoned, so as not to excessively limit the splendid perspective view that is still enjoyed looking outwards. The project was entrusted to Giuseppe Marocco, who envisioned the thirty-six wooden fans (appliques) with deer heads that show off themselves on the walls of the hall. From the same period are the gilded wood inlays of the balustrade of the singers in the upper part of the hall and the paracamels painted by the Lombard Giovanni Crivelli (1733). Also worthy of note are the four marble busts made in 1773 by Giovanni Battista Bernero, which overlook the same number of entrances to the hall and which represent minor divinities linked to hunting and the fields: Ceres, Pomona, Naiad and Napea.

The salon, steeped in its structure and in the decorations characteristic of the eighteenth century, also attracted the attention of several contemporaries who were able to see it personally as the French engraver Charles Nicolas Cochin, who however criticized the superabundance of decorations and excessive eccentricity. Of the same opinion was Joseph Jerome Lalande, who reported how the Juvarra was almost completely focused on the salon, leaving behind all the rest and revealing how it was arranged as the “dream of an architect”, too risky for a city palace and only for a sumptuous country residence.

Juvarra disappeared, the Messina artist’s idea of placing large sculptural groups of dogs and deer at the large windows of the hall was not completed any more so as not to excessively limit the splendid perspective view that can still be enjoyed by looking outside. On the other hand, the project was completed, entrusted to Giuseppe Morocco, of thirty-six wooden fans (appliques) with deer heads that show off on the walls of the room. Of the same period are the gilded wood inlays of the balustrade of the singers in the upper part of the hall and the chimney guards, painted by the Lombard Giovanni Crivelli (1733).

The meticulous direction of Juvarra involved all the decorative apparatus of the Palazzina, starting with the grandiose Central Hall, a vast room with an elliptical plan concluded by a high vault on four pillars supporting a balcony. The scenographic effect of the hall is extraordinary and is due to the genius of Juvarra, who admirably exploited also the natural perspective effect with the views towards the four avenues that cross the park.

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The hall was frescoed, but with not exciting results, by the brothers Giuseppe and Domenico Valeriani. The works of other artists are much better, such as Giovan Battista Crosato (author of the most beautiful fresco of the entire complex, The Sacrifice of Iphigenia, which decorates the ceiling of the Queen’s Anteroom), the quadraturist (i.e. painter of architectural drawings, scrolls and frames that “frame”) Girolamo Mengozzi Colonna and especially Scipione and Vittorio Amedeo Cignaroli (the latter author of the four famous canvases of the Sala degli Scudieri, dedicated to deer hunting). Among the sculptors, in addition to Ladatte, we must remember Giuseppe Marocco, author of the thirty-six appliques of the large central hall, designed by Juvarra himself.

The Palazzina di Caccia of Stupinigi preserves the original furnishings, made by the most important Piedmontese artists and craftsmen. Inside the architectural complex is housed the Museum of Art and Furnishings, in which, in addition to the furnishings of the Palazzina, also those from other Savoy residences (Moncalieri and Venaria) and works by artists such as the cabinetmaker Pietro Piffetti and the wooden sculptor Giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo, as well as the carriage that Napoleon used in 1805 from Paris to Milan, for his coronation as king of Italy, a work of French craftsmanship around 1790.

Hunting residence of Stupinigi
The Palazzina di caccia of Stupinigi is one of the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy in northern Italy, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. Built as a royal hunting lodge in the early 18th century, it is located in Stupinigi, a suburb of the town of Nichelino, 10 km (6 mi) southwest of Turin

The original castle was owned by the Acaja line of the House of Savoy, Lords of Piedmont until 1418, and was sold to marquis Rolando Pallavicino in 1493. It was then acquired by Emmanuel Philibert in 1563, when the ducal capital was moved from Chambéry to Turin. The new palace was designed by the architect Filippo Juvarra to be used as a palazzina di caccia (“hunting lodge”) for Victor Amadeus II, King of Sardinia. Works started in 1729. Within two years construction was far enough advanced for the first formal hunt to take place.

Juvarra called upon a team of decorators, many of them from Venice, to carry out the decor of the palazzina interiors. In the reigns of Carlo Emanuele III and Victor Amadeus III the palazzina and its formal park continued to be extended, at first by Juvarra’s assistant, Giovanni Tommaso Prunotto, then by numerous North Italian architects, such as Ignazio Birago di Borgaro, Ludovico Bo, Ignazio Bertola and Benedetto Alfieri. The final building has a total of 137 rooms and 17 galleries, and covers 31,050 square meters. Polissena of Hesse-Rotenburg, wife of Carlo Emanuele III also carried out improvements. The original purpose of the hunting lodge is symbolized by the bronze stag perched at the apex of the stepped roof of its central dome, and the hounds’ heads that decorate the vases on the roofline. The building has a saltire plan: four angled wings project from the oval-shaped main hall.

The extensions resulted in separate pavilions linked by long angled galleries and a long octagonal forecourt enclosed by wings, extended forwards in two further entrance courts. Stupinigi was the preferred building to be used for celebrations and dynastic weddings by members of the House of Savoy. Here, in 1773, Maria Teresa, Princess of Savoy, married Charles Philippe, Count of Artois, brother of Louis XVI and the future Charles X of France.

Today the Palace of Stupinigi houses the Museo di Arte e Ammobiliamento, a museum of the arts and furnishings, some original to the palazzina, others brought from the former Savoia residences of Moncalieri and Venaria Reale. Stupinigi has the most important collection of Piedmontese furniture, including works by Turin’s three most famous Royal cabinet-makers, Giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo, Pietro Piffetti and Luigi Prinotti. Some of the sculptures of hunting figures are by Giovanni Battista Bernero. Additionally, temporary exhibitions are held in its galleries, such as the Mostra del Barocco (1963).