The large party room is named after César Ritz (Niederwald 1850- Küssnacht 1918), a famous Swiss entrepreneur known as the "king of hoteliers and hotelier to the kings". He started his career as a waiter, working his way up to become the owner/administrator of many prestigious hotels of his time including this hotel, which was designed by Roman architect Giulio Podesti (1857-1909) in 1890 and opened by Ritz in 1894.
Architectural and aesthetic elements have been carefully designed to reference the time, belonging to different traditions that range from classicism to the decorative tradition typical of the great Roman noble residences. The general structure resembles the style of old Roman basilicas, consisting of a single nave. The columns are topped with gilded capitals and are set to the wall or replaced by pilasters. Much of the detail is for decorative purposes, which is highlighted by large mirrors and candelabras. The frame that runs along the room perimeter calls back to classical Italian architecture, and is topped by a vault with lunettes: the vault is richly decorated with frescoes by Mario Spinetti (Rome, 1859-1915), who was once a student and teacher at the Roman Academy of Fine Art”, as well as a former member of the Association of Roman Water-colourists. Spinetti specialised in historical and mythological subjects and genre scenes favoured by the bourgeoisie of the time, displayed in the exhibitions of the prestigious Society of Amateurs and Connoisseurs of Rome, and also in Milan, Turin and Venice.
The vault is composed in five parts. In its centre, golden ribs create a diamond grid with garlands and floral motifs that frame glimpses of sky, giving the illusion of an opening to the outside. Its long sides are divided into three sections each: three mythological scenes, on the right side of the entrance, that represent the grain of sowing and harvesting. On the opposite side there are representations of grape harvesting. On the short sides are a hunting scene and a sea scene. From both stylistic and iconographic aspects, the artist refers to many influences from the period, which saw him living in the lively, artistic Roman life. The artists involved created an association called In Arte Libertas, which was founded in 1885 and remained active in Rome until the early 1900s. The association had the purpose of creating pieces with the freedom to not follow traditional artistic principals, which was closer to the symbolist tendencies of European painting at the time.
Expertise and historical research by Imago Artis Tour • Via Vespasiano, 40 • Roma Italy +39 06 39 72 91 73 • +39 334 82 92 269
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