Giulio Romano (Orbetto) was an Italian architect and painter active during the late Renaissance. Romano’s artistic deviations from the classicism of the High Renaissance and helped define the Mannerism. He was a great contributor to spread throughout Europe the 16th-century Italian style, much through the reproductions engraved by Marcantonio Raimondi. The artist became highly celebrated, especially for his architecture, having a pivotal impact on Italian Mannerist architecture.
Giulio Romano was born in 1499 in Rome, hence his name “Romano.” In his boyhood, he was already an assistant to the much renowned Raphael. He worked on frescoes designed by the great Master in many distinguished locations.
As time passed, Raphael became increasingly trustful of Romano’s technique, and he soon became his right-hand, despite his rather young age. After the Master’s death in 1520, Romano helped to finish a number of the former’s artwork, such as the Vatican frescoes depicting the life of Constantine, as well as Transfiguration and Coronation of the Virgin.
After decorating Villa Madama, an important commission for Giuliano de’ Medici, Giulio was courted by the ruler of Mantua, Frederico Gonzaga, who was very fond of the artist’s work, especially regarding his architectures. In 1524, Orbetto decided to accept the invitation to relocate to Mantua, where he would remain until the end of his life. There, the artist created one of his masterpieces of fresco painting and architecture, the Palazzo Te, where he executed his famous illusionistic fresco.
Orbetto also contributed to the ducal palace restoration and reconstruction of the cathedral in Mantua, while also designing the Church of San Benedetto. Indeed, during his time in Mantua, the artist was responsible for most of refurbishing and restoration needed in the city. According to the distinguished artist and art historian Giorgio Vasari, the artist would design chapels temples, gardens, houses, and facades for the city of Mantua.
During the early 1500s, Orbetto went to France. There, he introduced it to the Court of King Francis I concepts of the Italian Renaissance. The artist also designed tapestries. According to Vasari, Romano’s mos prominent pupils were Raffaellino dal Colle, Giovanni Battista Bertani, Fermo Guisoni, Giovanni dal Lione, Figurino da Faenza.
Giulio Romano died in Mantua, on November 1st, 1546.