Bishop de Villeneuve wanted an "Italian-style living room" with walls richly adorned with paintings. He sent for designs from Italy as models.
This large room, open on two floors, is surrounded on the upper floor by a balcony for musicians for official receptions.
The paintings of the scenes represented are made with tempera, on plaster of gray green or blue gray shades. All around the room are scenes from the Old Testament, inspired by the Vatican lodges, painted by Raphel's pupils: "the construction of Noah's ark", "the rise in the 'ark', 'the flood', 'the exit of the ark', 'the sacrifice of Noah', then 'the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah', 'the tower of Babel' and 'Moses and the Burning Bush'. Above the doors are represented the four seasons under the figures of chubby children engaged in agricultural work.
The corbelling of the gallery is occupied, throughout the room, by foliage in grisaille and garlands of flowers and foliage. In medallions, stand out mythical characters evoking the four elements: Vulcan for fire, Neptune for water, Juno for air and Cybele for the earth.
These paintings would be the work of an Italian decorator who was a pupil of Charles Natoire.
Eight scenes from the Old Testament are painted in green shades, six of which are inspired by the frescoes of the Vatican Lodges executed by Raphael in the early sixteenth century.
The paintings on the walls surmount a basement of gray color, and are themselves surrounded by a frame "rocaille" foliage and garlands painted, while the mantelpieces are topped with a trellis feint.
Corbeling: garlands of flowers, foliage and four oval medallions treated in the form of faux "cut leathers" in shades of blue represent the Four Elements in the form of ancient gods: Juno, Vulcan, Cybele, Neptune.
Bouquets of flowers are painted in the corners.
Door tops: on the theme of the Four Seasons represented by children, are executed in shades of gray-green rectangular compositions inspired by paintings by F. Boucher. These door-tops would not be in the same hand as the rest of the sets.
Photos et textes extraits de "MEMOIRE TECHNIQUE Salle à l’Italienne – Hôtel de ville, ancien Palais Episcopal de Viviers" - 26 février 2016 - par Laurence Didier - tous droits réservés