The Cammara Picta (or “Sala del Magistrato”) is inside the town hall, on Piazza Duomo, and it is the major attraction inside the building thanks to its particular beauty. Painted during the mannerist period, it is one of the most precious works created in Sicily.
The genius responsible for the authorship of the frescoes is the painter from Termini Imerese Vincenzo la Barbera, they have been made around the 600s. These paintings are dated and signed on the central scroll through a picture of a paper roll, which says: “Vincentius Barbera IN.P.TER 1610”. The scroll is placed on the large window, by doing so whoever comes inside the magnificent hall will find the scroll right in front of themselves.
This majestic work tells the history of the city, starting from his mythological origins, until the events of the Greek Himera and the consequent destruction of the Hellenic colony by the Carthaginians, which will give life to the new urban centre of Termini Imerese, named Thermae. These paintings are the only example of a single pictorial cycle of lay commissioning and of an entirely profane subject.
La Barbera’s goal was to tell the history of the city for sure, but we can not exclude the political and religious context in which these stories are told. The principal characters coming out from the representation are Stenio and Tisia d’Imera, known as Stesicoro (“choir director”). Stenio was a citizen of Termini Imerese during the I century b.C. He was unfairly accused by Gaius Licinius Verre, at the time governor of Sicily, and defended before the Roman tribunal by the great Cicero. Stesicoro’s origins are, however, still uncertain, but he is still considered and acclaimed citizen of Termini Imerese because here he lived and composed most of his works.
A frieze decorates the walls, thanks to its frescos divided into twelve panels. The crest of the city is placed upon the entering door of the hall. The coffered ceiling is painted in oil and represents allegorical scenes with a large coat of arms in the center. The paintings on canvas on the plank of the dressers intend to carry out a program of exaltation of the Spanish monarchy and peace against the pitfalls of war.
In the central octagonal lacunare stands the crowned royal eagle bearing the weapon of Philip III of Spain; Even the four central emblems are an undoubted reference to the Spanish monarchy, in these the absolute protagonist is, indeed, the Spanish eagle, declaimed by cartouches with mottos.
The reference to the Spanish Monarchy in in the meeting room of the Magistrate was intended to be an act of devotion of the “Città Splendidissima” towards the reigning house, a further confirmation of the fidelitas towards the central and the peripheral power represented by the viceroy and the dignitaries; we must not forget the privileges granted in those years to the Thermitan Magistrate before (1603) by the Viceroy Don Lorenzo Xuarez de Figueroua and Corduba Duke of Feria and a few years later (1611) by Don Pietro Giron Duke of Ossuna, that showed particular interests aimed at strengthening the loader.
The four corner squares are more complex and refined, because they want to show the opposition between the beneficial gifts of peace and the calamities of war, referring both to the monarchy or the entire human race. For example, the emblem “Pacis Opus”, rendered through the elephant with an olive branch, is symmetrically opposed to the winged figure with the trumpet and the motto “Aere Ciere Viri” (“to call men to battle”); as well as the one next door with the solitary lion, symbol of strength, finds its opposite in the figure of the great Stesicoro, well rendered in its intrinsic meaning by the seventeenth-century iconography of the “senem incurvum, cum Librum manibus”.
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