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Publication Date

Summer 2015

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art and Art History


Anne Simonson


Italian Renaissance Architecture, Italian Renaissance Palaces, Palazzo Farnese, Renaissance Popes, Renaissance Rome

Subject Areas

Art history


The Palazzo Farnese in Rome was constructed between 1515 and 1549 according to the designs of Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and Michelangelo Buonarroti and is traditionally viewed as a symbol of the magnificence, wealth, and success of its most famous owner, Pope Paul III. Examination of the Palazzo Farnese as a cardinal’s palace, rather than a papal palace, in comparison to other Renaissance palaces built for cardinals, however, reveals all of these structures to be strong and clear symbols and agents of papal political authority in Rome. This study reveals a close relationship between the political policies of Pope Nicholas V and Pope Sixtus IV and the external appearance of those earlier palaces and suggests a new perspective on the stylistic developments of Roman Renaissance architecture. While scholars have traditionally understood the early stage of Roman Renaissance architecture to be the product of the particular artistic and cultural milieu and the later stage to be the product of a shift in that milieu, this thesis demonstrates that the architectural development of Renaissance Rome followed a political agenda.