Mantua’s ‘Palazzo Te’ used to be home to the Gozaga family. Noblemen and horse breeders. Although the rest of their palace was decorated with all kinds of overwhelming 15th and 16th c. murals, the main reception hall was reserved for their horses.
In 1525 Federico Gonzaga comissioned Giulio Romano to portray six of his favourites, painted life size over the doorways of the hall. Their poses, gaze and size bring them directly into the living space and we still know the names of four of them today. Just after completion of this ‘Sala Dei Cavalli’ these painted animals witnessed a first ball held in honour of emperor Charles V on his 1530 visit to Mantua.