(b Siena, 29 Nov. 1466; d Rome, 11 Apr. 1520).
Italian banker and merchant, one of the greatest patrons of the Renaissance. The immensely wealthy Chigi was the leading financier in Europe (his family bank had branches throughout Italy and others in places as far apart as London and Cairo) and he also had various industrial and trading interests. He was Sienese by birth (and he favoured Sienese artists, including Peruzzi and Sodoma), but he spent most of his life in Rome. His two most important commissions were a villa in the suburbs of the city (now called the Villa Farnesina, as it was later owned by the Farnese family) and a burial chapel in the church of S. Maria del Popolo. The villa was designed by Peruzzi and begun in about 1506; it is the most sophisticated residence of its time, with painted decoration by Raphael and Sebastiano del Piombo, as well as Sodoma and Peruzzi himself. The lavish chapel was designed by Raphael and begun in 1512. It was unfinished when he and Chigi died within days of each other in 1520 and was not completed until the 1650s by Bernini, working for Fabio Chigi (1599–1667), a descendant of Agostino who became Pope Alexander VII in 1655. In 1664 his nephew, Cardinal Flavio Chigi (1631–93), commissioned Bernini to design the façade of the Palazzo Chigi (now Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi).
Subjects: Art & Architecture