By Gonzalo Sanchez
Rome, Nov 24 (EFE).- The only known Caravaggio ceiling mural in the world has survived for centuries in a dark and dusty room of a Rome villa, but now the grandiose palace is up for sale to pay off the debts of its noble owners.
The oil painting of Roman gods Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto was created by Italian baroque master Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio in 1597 and adorns a ceiling in Villa Aurora.
“Since my husband died, it’s rather lonely in a sense but it’s also such an awesome responsibility and such an honor,” heiress Rita Jenrette, a blonde Texas actress and third wife of aristocrat Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi, who died in 2018, tells Efe.
The villa is a fascinating place. Not only for its architecture — a 2,800 square meter building spread over six floors and with a wonderful and lush garden in the heart of Rome — but also for its impressive artistic heritage.
Its vaults are a treasure trove of frescoes and murals by art history greats, spanning from the Cinquecento period (1500-1599) through to dozens of portraits of the members of the Lodovisi family, cardinals and even two popes.
But the villa now has an air of bygone days.
Cold and damp, the moody villa is dimly lit by chandeliers that need bulbs replacing, and decorated with rugs fraying at the edges.
A narrow spiral staircase swirls up to the first floor that leads to a tiny room which had been used as a closet until recently. In this intimate space, a Caravaggio oil painting blankets the domed ceiling.
“It is the only Caravaggio mural in the world,” the heiress affirms.