The construction (or renovation) of the building dates back to the beginning of the sixteenth century, first by Francesco Fontanelli, then, after his murder in 1519, his wife Beatrice Zoboli who was responsible for the addition of the Renaissance marble portal (originally covered with gold foil) attributed to Bartolomeo Spagni who is now in the Civic Museums. The cornice was beautifully painted by Giovanni Battista Giarola, a skilled artist originally from Correggio (the four fragments are also preserved in the Civic Museums. They were detached in the nineteenth century and put on canvas at the beginning of the twentieth century, representing Procession of Bidders, Girl with a putto, a Sacrifice and a Warrior with a girl.
The Jade may have also frescoed an interior room with episodes of the Trojan War but several critics now exclude this possibility because of the poor style). On the other hand, the sculpture of a soldier or a standard-bearer and - above - a small balcony supported by shelves remains on site, in the corner with Via Roma, even if completely degraded. It could have been Bartolomeo Spani, a very active Reggio architect and father of Prospero, called the Clement, to design the palace but the news does not find certainty even in Fantuzzi who, however, confirms the attribution of the majestic staircase, the sculptural figures around the door and the military statue at the corner of the palace.
Despite its mediocre state of preservation, it faces one of the most elegant Renaissance buildings in the city. The well-woven brick warp gives dignity together with the monumental volume, the sobriety and cleanliness of the facades are interrupted on the corner by the statue of the flag-bearer soldier, surmounted by an angular balcony supported by three sturdy carved corbels. The balcony frame is classic. On the balcony there is only one French door, the only one to change size compared to all the others that follow one another on the fronts of the building.
The interior has a portico with three arches surmounted by a loggia with Ionic columns and capitals; a walkway is supported by corbels in sandstone. The main floor is accessed through a vigorous staircase of honor with large niches housing female statues. Antonio Alai was commissioned to make them in the 18th century. It seems that the client, through the hands of the artists, preferred a plastic effect preferring architectural elements rather than two-dimensional decorations and effect chromaticism. The voids, the shadows, the materiality of the walls are incisive and dominant in this interior that, although rich and stately, seems to lead to a bare composure. The palace belonged to several families over the centuries.
(by Arch. Rosaria Petrongari, December 2011)