Ninety years before Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty” – winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Award in 2014 – a famous VIP party was portrayed in the same iconic area of Rome, Via Veneto, that would later shoot to fame thanks to Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita”.
We are talking about the cycle of frescoes that decorates the restaurant of the Hotel Ambasciatori (now known as Grand Hotel Palace), painted by Venetian artist Guido Cadorin (1892-1976) in 1926.
Cadorin represented a group of characters from Rome’s high society in the 1920s, as they enjoy a lavish reception right inside the grand hall itself.
The room thus seems to extend into the paintings, where elegant men and women look out from small balconies held up by twisted columns. Some of them were notable people of the time: amongst others, the hotel’s owners who had commissioned the work, and architects Gio Ponti and Marcello Piacentini (who had designed the building).
Cadorin’s professional faux pas was immortalizing writer Margherita Sarfatti, Mussolini’s biographer and lover: unhappy to see his affair immortalized on these walls, the dictator led to the artist being cut out of many circles and ostracized.
In early 1927, the cycle was covered with silk, and remained hidden until the end of the Second World War.