This thesis intends to explore the relationship between the Neoplatonist doctrines of the Renaissance philosopher, Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), and astrological images in the Renaissance. The astrological ceiling fresco located in the Room of Maps in the Villa Farnese at Caprarola is in the center of the argument, which I analyze based on the metaphysical works of Ficino, the Platonic Theology (1482) and the Three Books on Life (1492). Authors have examined the fresco decoration and Ficinian philosophy individually, but never together. This study is the first to recognize Ficino's influence on Renaissance astrological images in its entirety.The present work synthesizes scholarship on Ficino and astrological image interpretations and provides a Neoplatonic reading of the fresco in question. The results demonstrate that the ceiling fresco at Caprarola is a visual manifestation of the principal Ficinian doctrines. The predominant decorative figures (Phaeton, Argo, Capella, and Jupiter) located at the four corners of the ceiling, communicate the importance of contemplation and introspection, the proper management of one's vices and virtues, and the immortality of the soul. Together, they comprise the microcosm of the patron, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520-1589). The decoration provides an insight into the inner world of Cardinal Farnese and represents his dominant personality traits. In the end, he triumphs over his sins, and his good deeds enable his soul to ascend to the divine sphere. The current study opens the door to conducting psychoanalyses of other historical figures, who were major patrons of the art and involved with Ficino’s philosophy.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Zaho, Margaret


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities


School of Visual Arts and Design

Degree Program

Art History


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date