Frieze for the Portico of Villa Medici at Poggio a Caiano

Glazed terracotta frieze depicting two chariots pulled by pairs of horses.

Bertoldo di Giovanni (ca. 1440–1491) and collaborators
Frieze for the Portico of Villa Medici at Poggio a Caiano, ca. 1490
Glazed terracotta
(Section 5): 22 7/8 × 106 1/8 in. (58 × 269.5 cm)
Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano, Polo Museale della Toscana
Gabinetto Fotografico delle Gallerie degli Uffizi


This section has been seen as a representation of the birth of the day in three parts: at left, the slumbering figure of Night; at center, Aurora's preparation of Sol-Apollo's horses for the journey across the sky; and, at right, dawn, the beginning of day. It has also been read as a depiction of the punishment and reward for unjust and just souls, with Sleep and Oblivion attending Death (the reclining figure) at far left, the punishment of the unjust, followed by the apotheosis of just souls in the horse-drawn chariots. In both interpretations, the figures allude to the prosperity and success of the Medici with a possible identification of Lorenzo as Sol-Apollo.


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