The arcade is named after the building's original owner, Prince Maffeo Sciarra, who in the late 1880s commissioned the architect Giulio De Angelis to design a glass-domed galleria to serve as a fashionable shopping centre for Rome. Painter Giuseppe Cellini decorated the space and the frescoes he produced are a wonderful example of the influence of English pre-Raphaelite art on Italian artists at the end of the 19th century, in their mixing of Renaissance decoration with images of contemporary women. In fact, the role of women in middle class society is very much at the heart of the fresco cycle, albeit in the traditional roles of mother, wife and housekeeper, as well as personifying the female "virtues", some of which are seen in the photo below:
- Amabilis - streches out her arms in welcome;
- Fidelis - points to her faithful heart, with a dog symbolically placed at her feet;
- Misericors -is cutting her long hair and thus making a sacrifice.
Photos © Deborah Swain - All rights reserved