The magnificent Palazzo Farnese is one of the most important High Renaissance palaces in Rome. The original building on this site was acquired by Alessandro Farnese (1468-1549), shortly after he became a cardinal. He commissioned the Florentine architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger to reconstruct it and give him a grand residence, in keeping with his new rank.
When, in 1534, the cardinal became pope, taking the name Paul III (r. 1534-49), he called in Michelangelo to complete the upper storeys and provide the beautiful stone cornice, which is decorated with lilies, the heraldic emblem of the Farnese family.
Two other architects, Vignola and Giacomo della Porta, would be employed before the palazzo was finally completed at the end of the 16th century.
In Puccini's opera Tosca (1900), which is set in Napoleonic Rome, the eponymous heroine's confrontation with the malevolent chief of police, Scarpia, takes place in Palazzo Farnese.
Since 1936 Palazzo Farnese has been the seat of the French Embassy.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
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