The Royal Dozen: Pope Alexander VI - The Borgia Pope
“Now we are in the power of a wolf, the most rapacious perhaps that this world has ever seen. And if we do not flee, he will inevitably devour us all” – Pope Leo X said of Alexander Borgia
Spanish born Roderic de Borja (Italian: Rodrigo Borgia) was one of the most controversial Renaissance popes. His surname became a byword for the debased standards of the Papacy of that era.
A famous account documents an orgy Alexander hosted along with his illegitimate children Cesare and Lucrezia at the Vatican named The Ballet of the Chestnuts.
The artwork takes its inspiration from two stories. It is rumoured that Lucrezia was in possession of a hollow ring and goblet that she used frequently to poison the drinks and meals of the Borgia enemies. The ring and goblet are symbolised within the ornamentation along with the chestnuts the pope is fondling in memory of The Ballet of the Chestnuts. In the background the walls are adorned with paintings of seductive women, below the dome of the Pantheon.