Preliminary Index of Subjects Found in Renaissance and Baroque Villas


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Preliminary Index of Subjects Found in Renaissance and Baroque Villas

Robert Baldwin

Associate Professor of Art History

Connecticut College
Created July 18-20, 2015
posted on my web site:
Note: Almost all of these images can be found in the slide shows on each subject at my web site (link above) under the page “Art by Subject”.
To enrich the study of villa culture of Renaissance and Baroque art, I have compiled this preliminary index of subjects used in villa painting and sculpture between 1480 and 1700. Most examples come from Italy. Although many villas still need to be surveyed, this index shows broad trends which I have used to organize my subjects: 1) Cosmos and Rule (mostly classical gods), 2) Nature and Fertility Gods (mostly goddesses), 3) Hubris, 4) War, Empire, Earthly Triumph, Heroes and Eternal Rome, 5) Loves of the Gods and Heroes, 6) Higher Love over Base Passion, 7) Marriage and Family, 8) Intellectual Themes, 9) Moderation, 10) Spiritual or Monastic Retreat, 11) Misc. Christian Themes, 12) Pastoral and Pastoral Myths, 13) Landscape Painting and Villa Portraits, 14) Banquets, and 15) Sleep.
The index ends with a list of major garden elements such as Grottos, Theaters, Labyrinths, and Hell’s Mouth, etc.

Cosmos as Rule: Deities Presiding over Large Areas of Nature

Apollo by himself: Pisani (garden statue),

Apollo in Chariot: Poggio (ceramic frieze on pediment), Tivoli (ceiling Room of Apollo), Farnesina (Sala Prospectiva, Peruzzi fresco of Apollo and Aurora), Versailles (garden fountain and ceiling painting in Room of Apollo)
Apollo Killing Dragon or God of Archery: Artimino (loggia), Versailles (garden fountain), Het Loo (garden statue of Apollo archer);

Apollo on Parnassus with the Muses: Bagnaia (big fountain with Pegasus - Apollo figure now missing); Pratolino (artificial “mountain” in garden - no longer extant), Aldobrandini (main painting in salon and large sculpture in casino), Giustiniani (ceiling fresco), Powderham (music room)

Atlas: Aldobrandini (amphitheater sculpture)
Aurora: San Chimento, Casino Borghese, Farnesina (Sala Prospectiva, Peruzzi fresco of Apollo and Aurora)
Gods, Council of Gods on Olympus: Palazzo del Te (ceiling – Room of Giants), Barbaro (ceiling), Caldogno, Godi, Tivoli (ceilings in Room of Hercules and Room of Large Landscapes), Chiericati (ceiling),
Jupiter: Palazzo del Te (Room of Giants), Emo
Neptune: Emo (Triumph of Neptune), Barbaro (fountain in front & sculpture in nymphaeum), Boboli (sculpture in artificial lake), Tivoli (fountain), Bomarzo, Praiano, Villa Doria, Grazioli, Aldobrandini,
Pluto and Persephone (see Loves of Gods, below)
Pluto in His Chariot: Tivoli (Room of Fountain - 4 small roundrels with series of gods in chariots)
Seasons: Emo (divided among the salons), Tivoli (Room of Moses); Caprarola, Versailles (fountains),
Vulcan: Caldogno (fireplace, Vulcan with Venus), Farnesina (Sala Prospectiva, fireplace, Peruzzi fresco of Vulcan at Forge)
Zeus: see Jupiter
Zodiac: Farnesina (Sala di Galatea, ceiling), Caprarola (ceiling of Map Room),

Others Deities in Triumphal Mode / Chariot, etc

Cycle of triumphant deities at Bagnaia casino: Jupiter, Apollo, Minerva, Mercury, Venus, Juno, Hercules

Cycle of chariot-riding deities at Tivoli (Room of the Fountain - small roundrels of Neptune, Juno, Pluto, Jupiter),
Jupiter: Tivoli (Room of the Fountain, corner figure)
Venus: see next category

Cosmos, Nature and Fertility Gods

Bacchus: Barbaro (Salon of Bacchus, ceiling), Tivoli (Room of the Fountain, Sacrifice to Bacchus with wine harvesting; another Bacchus in a corner), Giusti (garden statue), Het Loo (garden statue),

Bacchus and Ariadne: See Love of the Gods, below
Caryatids: Mondragone,
Centaurs as fertility: Aldobrandini (Chiron?), Bagnaia casino,
Ceres: Emo (Salon of Arts), Tivoli (First Room of Tiburtine Sibyl), Bomarzo,
Cupid riding goat: Bagnaia casino,
Cybele: Emo (Triumph of Cybele),
Diana: Barbaro (exterior niche & nymphaeum); Caldogno, Fontainebleau (garden statue), Farnesina (Sala di Galatea, Diana and Nymphs), Het Loo (garden statue), Hampton Court (Diana fountain by Inigo Jones),
Diana of Ephesus (multi-breasted with animals): Fontanebleau (Tribolo statue), Barbaro (small fresco in Room of XX)); Tivoli (Room of Nobility - fresco allegorizing Things of Nature; giant fountain statue in garden); Bagnaia (casino, small scene alongside Hercules in Garden of Hesperides), Villa Medici - Rome (painting of Diana holding a small statue of Diana of Ephesus); Villa Carpi Rome (lost statue known from engraving),
Flora: Aldobrandini (?),
Goats (frequent appearances): Bagnaia casino,
Grape vines as ornament: Emo, Barbaro (Room of Bacchus)
Mother Earth (& similar imagery): Bagnaia (nymphs squeezing breast milk) / also see: Diana of Ephesus, Venus
Nymphs: Caldogno, Tivoli, Bagnaia casino (many nymphs as ornament), Bomarzo (sleeping nymph), Barbaro (pediment sculpture with sea nymphs and tritons), Imperiale (illusionistic nymph herm colonnade with trompe l’oeil landscape), Fontainebleau (Cellini statue of Nymph with animals), Het Loo (garden statue of river nymph);
Pan: Caldogno (Pan chasing nymph), Tivoli (Second Room of Tiburtine Sibyl with Apollo ceiling - Pan Seducing Olympus),

Rivers & River Gods: Pratolino, Barbaro, Bagnaia (garden fountain; casino fresco), Tivoli (fresco in Room of Apollo; 2 sculptures above and to either side of Oval Fountain), Caprarola (large fountain), Versailles, Het Loo (garden statue)

Satyrs as fertility: Poggio (large herms in rear), Godi (painted herms), Boboli grotto (stucco in first room, satyrs below bathing Venus in third room), Bagnaia (used as ornament),
Sphinx: Bagnaia casino (ornamental motif), Tivoli (garden statue and fresco ornament), Het Loo (garden statue),
Venus: Barbaro (frescos of Venus as Good Mother and Venus Ruling over Court of Love; statue in front with Vulcan), Bomarzo, Praiano, Boboli Grotto (third room has fountain of Venus bathing with satyrs watching below), Bardini (Venus and Cupid statue), Tivoli (Second Room of Tiburtine Sibyl - Venus Riding Sea Chariot), Villa Placid (Siena), Farnesina (Sala Prospectiva, Peruzzi fresco, Sea Triumph of Venus), Het Loo (centerpiece garden fountain of V & Cupid);

Apollo and Marsyas: Vescovi, Bagnaia casino, Tivoli (relief on water organ)

Diana and Actaeon: see Moderation, below
Gods and Giants: Palazzo del Te, Versailles (Enceladus fountain),
Latona and the Peasants: Versailles
Minerva and Arachne: Villa Medici-Rome
Polyphemus and Galatea: Farnesina, Aldobrandini
Prometheus Chained: Emo (Hercules liberates Prometheus),

War, Empire, Earthly Triumph, Fame, Hunting, Eternal Rome, Heroes

Apotheosis: see Hercules, below, and Cupid and Psyche under “Loves of the Gods” below; Pisani (Tiepolo ceiling fresco of celestial triumph of Cardinal Pisani),

Fame and History: Emo (Fame trumpets Hercules); Artimino (loggia ceiling centerpiece – Fame Writing); Versailles (Salon of War – History Writes Deeds of Louis XIV; Garden Statue on Fame and Louis)
Hercules by himself: Barbaro (outdoor sculpture); Rotonda (outdoor sculpture), Pisani (4 giant Hercules sculptures in façade at entrance; garden statue)
Hercules, Apotheosis: Tivoli (ceiling, Room of Hercules)

Hercules, Antaeus: Castello (centerpiece statue in garden, later removed to another villa), Tivoli (Room of Hercules), Bomarzo, Pitti Palace (courtyard) / also centerpiece to Vrancx, Garden with Bathers at Princeton

Hercules Apotheosis: Tivoli (Room of Hercules); Versailles (Room of Hercules, ceiling painting),
Hercules, Cattle of Geryon stolen: Tivoli (Room of Hercules and First Room of Tiburtine Sibyl)
Hercules, Centaur killed: Tivoli (2 scenes - Room of Hercules; small vignette in First Room of Tiburtine Sibyl )
Hercules, Cerberus tamed: Tivoli (Room of Hercules)
Hercules, Cretan Bull: Tivoli (Room of Hercules)
Hercules, Dejanira: Emo, Tivoli (Room of Hercules)
Hercules, Fortuna Mastered: Poggio
Hercules, Garden of Hesperides: Bagnaia casino, Tivoli (Room of Hercules)
Hercules, Hydra: Farnesina (Sala Galatea), Tivoli (Room of Hercules)
Hercules, Labors (cycles): Tivili (Room of Hercules), Jonghelinck’s non-extant villa (Floris paintings)
Hercules, Milky Way created by suckling Juno: Villa Medici-Rome
Hercules, Nemean Lion: Farnesina (Sala Galatea), Tivoli (Room of Hercules); Caprarola (Room of Maps)
Hercules, Pillars (Marking Geographical Limits): Tivoli (Room of Hercules)
Hercules, Serpents strangled by Infant Hercules: Het Loo (garden fountain statue)
Hercules, Stymphalian Bird: Bagnaia casino)
Hercules, World held up: Tivoli (Room of Hercules)
Hunting: Tivoli (whole room with hunting landscapes and game trophies), Barbaro
Maps and Globes as Empire: Caprarola (Room of Maps), Het Loo (two large globes of earth and heaven as garden fountains);
Mars: da Porto (Roman warrior or Mars?); Versailles (Salon de la Guerre and Hall of Mirrors ceiling)
Perseus and Andromeda (see Loves of the Gods, below)
Perseus and Medusa: Farnesina (Sala Galatea),
Triumphal Arches framing illusionistic landscapes: Barbaro, Emo, Cornaro (gate),

Triumphal Arches incorporated into architecture: Barbaro (villa façade, nymphaeum), Godi (garden arcade with two painted Victories), Tivoli, Aldobrandini (villa façade; amphitheater,

Triumphal Procession: Emo; Praiano (huge fresco of Roman imperial triumph)
Rome, conquests: Barbaro chapel,
Rome, emperors: Emo, Godi, Aldobrandini, Boboli (garden statues), Poiana (Salon of Emperors), Versailles,
Rome, equestrian portraits: Caldogno, Da Porto
Rome, eternal: Tivoli (Room of Noah has huge landscape of ancient Roman buildings; Rometta – Roma in ruins, Roma statue),
Rome, pagan sacrifices: Bagnaia casino (tiny scene), Tivoli (Room of Noah’s Sacrifice - 3 scenes of sacrifice: to Bacchus with grape harvest, to Apollo, and to unidentified goddess – maybe Diana; Room of the Fountain has Sacrifice to Diana), Villa Medici - Rome
Sea Exploration: Caprarola (Map Room)
War: Barbarigo (Turks defeated); Da Porto, Emo (Roman conquests), Bomarzo (Hannibal’s War Elephant), Poiana (Room of Emperors has battle scenes), Tivoli (First and Second Rooms of the Tiburtine Sibyl offer ca. 8 scenes of ancient battles); Caprarola (numerous Farnese battle scenes)

Love of Gods and Heroes (Mostly Rapes)

Loves of the Gods, series: Roberti

Alexander and Roxanne: Farnesina (bedroom fresco by Sodoma),
Apollo and Daphne: Emo, Rotonda (outdoor statue), Tivoli (in Grotto of Diana), Farnesina (Sala Prospective - Peruzzi fresco), Borghese (Bernini statue),
Bacchus and Ariadne: Barbaro ceiling, Roberti
Cephalus and Procris: Farnesina (Sala Prospectiva),
Cupid by himself: Het Loo (garden statue, Cupid on the world)
Cupid and Psyche: Farnesina (Loggia), Palazzo del Te (Sala di Psyche), Pisani (garden statue)
Diana and Callisto: Emo
Diana and Endymion: Farnesina (Sala Prospectiva), Catignano, Roberti
Hercules and Dejanira: Emo
Hercules and Omphale: Pisani (garden statue)
Jupiter and Danae: Roberti

Jupiter and Europa: Farnesina (Sala Galatea), Belcaro, Caprarola (Room of Maps)

Jupiter and Ganymede: Farnesina (Sala Galatea), Boboli (garden statue), Pisani (fresco)
Jupiter and Leda: Farnesina (Sala Galatea), Tivoli (First Room of Tiburtine Sibyl - small ornamental scene; Room of the Fountain - tiny grisaille under roundrel with Jupiter),
Pan and Olympus (amorous music lesson): Bagnaia casino,
Pan and Syrinx: Farnesina (Sala Prospectiva),
Pan and Minerva (wooed with wool): Tivoli or Bagnaia (info needed)
Perseus and Andromeda: Boboli (statue of Andromeda in lake), Tivoli (ceiling, Grotto of Diana), Roberti
Pluto and Proserpina: Vescovi, Bagnaia casino, Tivoli (fresco in Second Room of Tiburtine Sibyl), Borghese (Bernini statue), Versailles (Colonnade centerpiece)
Polyphemus and Galatea: see Higher Love Triumphs, below
Sabines Raped (Origins of Roman Glory): Het Loo (copy of Giambologna’s statue in garden)
Saturn and Philyra: Bagnaia casino (ornamental scene near View of Caprarola),
Satyrs or Tritons Attack Nymphs: Tivoli (Second Room of Tiburtine Sibyl),
Venus and Adonis: Farnesina (Sala Prospectiva), Emo (cycle of frescoes), Boboli Grotto (second room, centerpiece sculpture), Roberti
Venus and Mars: Palazzo del Te (cycle), Bagnaia casino, Pisani (garden statue),
Vertumnus and Pomona: Poggio, Pisani (garden statue)
Zephyr and Flora: Farnesina (Sala Galatea),

Higher Love Over Base Passion

Cupid Rides/Tames a Lion: Bagnaia casino, Caldogno / also relates to Love Conquers All

Greed Vanquished (Caldogno)
Hercules and Dejanira: Emo (with separate scene of Nessus slain), Roberti,
Love, Base Love Vanquished (Barbaro, Veronese allegory); Caldogno (Sacred Love Tramples Profane Love)
Polyphemus and Galatea (base passion spurned): Farnesina (Room of Galatea), Palazzo del Te (Room of Psyche),

Marriage and Family as Higher Love

Holy Family (Emo)

Marriage: Barbaro (Jupiter paired with Juno, Venus with Vulcan in exterior sculpture; Tivoli (frescoes in First Room of Tiburtine Sibyl pair Venus/Vulcan, Jupiter/Juno), Emo (allegory of Marriage); Farnesina (bedroom, Sodoma fresco - Marriage of Alexander the Great and Roxanne),
Venus as Good Mother (Barbaro, Veronese fresco)

Intellectual Themes - Liberal Arts

Apollo and Muses on Parnassus: Bagnaia (Apollo is missing), Medici Villa, Aldobrandini,

Apollo as musician: Farnesina (Sala Galatea, shown with Chiron), Bagnaia casino, Artimino (loggia fresco); Farnesina (Sala Prospectiva, Peruzzi fresco of Apollo with lyre), Villa Medici-Rome (Apollo with Diana), Tivoli (statue at base of the water organ), Farnesina (Sala Galatea), Het Loo (garden statue)
Apollo and Marsyas: Vescovi (Marsyas Flayed), Bagnaia, Emo, Tivoli (relief in upper section of water organ near Sirens); Farnesina (Sala Prospective - Peruzzi fresco),
Apollo and Pan: Bagnaia
Arion Tames the Dolphins: Farnesina (Sala Prospectiva, Peruzzi fresco)
Arts: Emo (Room of the Arts including architecture, sculpture & painting), Barbaro (central hallway crossing has frescoed Allegories of Music); Tivoli (Room of Nobility has Architecture and Music); Jonghelinck’s non-extant villa (cycle on the Liberal Arts by Floris); Farnesina (Peruzzi fresco of Poets on Parnassus with Pegasus)
Chiron: Farnesina (Sala Galatea, shown with Apollo),
Cicero in Triumph: Poggio
Dance: Caldogno (nobles dancing), Tivoli, (Room of the Fountain, ceiling painting with gods feasting and dancing)
Golden Age: Poggio majolica frieze
Minerva: da Porto (military context?); Villa Medici Rome (Minerva with intellectual still life); Bagnaia casino, Tivoli (Room of XX), Giusti (garden statue),

Muses: Godi (Muses with a poet), Vaux le Vicomte (Le Brun, Hall of Muses, ceiling), Farnesina (Sala Prospectiva, Peruzzi fresco),

Music, Themes: Bagnaia, Caldogno, Barbaro, Emo, Campiglia / also see Apollo vs. Marsyas, Apollo vs. Arion, Orpheus, and Pan
Orpheus tames the animals: Farnesina (Sala Galatea, no animals shown), Bagnaia, Tivoli (upper relief on water organ near the Sirens)
Pegasus: Farnesina (Peruzzi fresco of Poets on Parnassus with Pegasus), Bagnaia (huge fountain statue), Bomarzo, Tivoli (garden statue), Boboli (garden statue) / also see Apollo and Muses on Mt Parnassus;
Philosophers: Tivoli (Room of Nobility with busts of Plato, Socrates, Diogenes, and Pythagoras)
Poetry: Farnesina (Peruzzi fresco of Poets on Parnassus with Pegasus)
Venus as Civilizer: Farnesina (Sala Prospectiva, Peruzzi fresco of Venus with the Muses),
Virtues: Tivoli (Room of Nobility has ceiling with “Nobility, Generosity, Liberality” with “Honor, Opulence, Things of Nature, and Immortality” below); Tivoli (Room of Noble Glory has personifications of Justice, Magnanimity, Prudence, Religion, Time, and Fortuna),
Moderation (also see Marriage and Family, above)

Alexander the Great and the Family of Darius: Farnesina (bedroom, Sodoma fresco)

Diana and Actaeon: Barbaro nymphaeum, Tivoli (Grotto of Diana)
Hercules at Crossroads: Godi
Horse Restrained (temperance): Caldogno
Io Punished by Juno: Emo (cycle on story of Io)
Muscius Scaevola Burning Himself: Thiene
Scipio, continence: Emo, Caldogno, da Porto, Thiene
Sophonisba: Caldogno
Venus and Adonis (balancing pleasure with heroic hunting): Emo cycle, Boboli Grotto (second room centerpiece), Roberti
Virginia, killed by her father to protect her chastity): Emo

Spiritual or Monastic Retreat

Jerome in the Wilderness: Emo (in Salon of Venus!)

Magdalen in Garden - Noli Me Tangere: Emo (Room of Hercules – may allegorize villa as sacred garden);
Magdalen in Wilderness: Bomarzo,
Pagan Sacrifices and altars: Bagnaia casino (2 scenes of Roman altars), Tivoli (Room of the Fountain has six small scenes of sacrifice to Apollo, Neptune, Pluto, Diana, and others; First Room of Tiburtine Sibyl has two larger scenes of Roman Sacrifice; Room of the Fountain has two scenes of sacrifice),
Pagan temples: Tivoli (Room of Fountain; Second Room of Tiburtine sibyl), Bomarzo, Versailles (Mique, Temple of Love), Stourhead, Stowe,
Sibyls: Tivoli (large sculpture above Oval Fountain; Second Room of the Tiburtine Sibyl - two scenes of the Sibyl statue – coming to Tivoli in a Procession and being Worshipped)

Misc. Christian Themes

Christ, Holy Family: Emo

Christ, Man of Sorrows: Emo
Christ, Rest on the Flight: Tivoli (Chapel altarpiece)
Christ, Sermon on the Mount: Caprarola
Mary, Coronation of the Virgin: Tivoli (Chapel ceiling)
Moses as Infant Discovered by Pharaoh’s Daughter: Tivoli (Room of Moses)
Moses Striking Water from Rocks: Tivoli (ceiling in Room of Moses)
Noah, sacrifice after Deluge: Tivoli (ceiling of Room of Noah)

Farming Scenes

Barbaro (center crossing – Veronese fresco), Tivoli (Roman farming in Second Room of Tiburtine Sibyl); Jonghelinck’s non-extant villa (Bruegel’s Labors of the Months)

Pastoral and Pastoral Myths / also see Loves of Gods (above)

Judgment of Paris: Belcaro

Mercury and Argus: Emo
Polyphemus and Galatea (Farnesina, Aldobrandini)
Landscape Painting

Farnesina, Vescovi, Barbaro, Bagnaia, Falconieri, Tivoli (five rooms are heavily decorated with landscapes), Aldobrandini

Landscape Portraits of Villas (Including Landscape Self-Portraits)

Bagnaia casino (5-6 large examples including views of Bagnaia and Caprarola), Villa Medici – Rome (Landscape with Villa Medici), Villa Medici at Artimino (had cycle of 15 large frescoes by Utens portraying the major Medici villas – displayed since 2014 at Villa Medici Patraia), Barbaro (Veronese landscape with imaginary villa), Tivoli (Room of Fountain has landscape of Villa d’Este’s reflecting ponds and water organ; Room of Fountain has a huge fresco of Villa d’Este from a distance), Versailles (Grand Trianon hallway is decorated with Cotelle’s cycle of 20 large landscapes of major garden monuments at Versailles),

Trompe l’oeil (all but ubiquitous in villa painting since 1550)

Palazzo del Te, Farnesina, Emo, Emo-Capodilista, Godi (views into nature; man entering room), Barbaro, Caldogno, Falconieri, Imperiale, Tivoli (found in most of the rooms; life-size figures enter rooms in Room of Noah & Room of Fountain) Aldobrandini, De Maggiano (Siena),

Banquets (Gods and humans)

Antony and Cleopatra: da Porto, Thiene

Octavian and Livia: Petraia
Gods Feasting: Tivoli (Room of Fountain, ceiling), Villa Medici-Rome
Gods Feasting at Wedding of Cupid and Psyche: Farnesina, Plazzo del Te,
Nobles: Caldogno
Scipio Meets Hasdruba: Poggio

Sleep (also see Loves of the Gods, above: Diana and Endymion)

Nymph: Belvedere (“Ariadne” statue now in Vatican), Caldogno, Bagnaia casino, Tivoli (First Room of Tiburtine Sibyl - sleeping nymph and satyr under Ceres), Bardini, Bomarzo, Stourhead (with watching satyr)

Venus: Bagnaia casino (small scene);


Fashion, Beauty (also see two sections above: Cosmos and Fertility, Loves of the Gods)

Caldogno (elegantly dressed nobles)

Three Graces: Tivoli (Room of Nobility)

Fireplace Themes

Vulcan with Venus (Caldogno), Death of Hercules (Emo)

Material Elements of Villa Culture

Gardens, Pergolas, Fountains, and Water Games are ubiquitous.

Belvedere: Pisani, Versailles (Hamlet)
Dining Table Outdoors: Bagnaia,

Grotto: Boboli (Venus), Bagnaia (Venus), Pratolino (dining room grotto – destroyed), Tivoli (2 grottos - Sleeping Nymph and Diana), Borromeo, Forez, Vaux (river gods in small grottos), Versailles (Apollo and Sea Nymphs)

Hell’s Mouth: Bomarzo, Giusti, Aldobrandini,
Labyrinth: Andrassy Castle (Tiszadob, Hungary), Barcelona, Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth, Hampton Court, Leeds Castle, Longleat (UK), Pisani, Saffron Walden (Essex, UK), Schonbrunn Palace, Sovana (Italy), Versailles
Nymphaeum: Barbaro, Borromeo
Parnassus (artificial mountain): Bagnaia, Pratolino, Aldobrandini,
Pegasus: Bomarzo, Bagnaia, Tivoli
Reflecting Ponds: Tivoli, Versailles, Het Loo, Pisani,
Theater / Amphitheater: Pratolino (no longer extant), Bomarzo, Aldobrandini, Versailles
Triumphal Arch: Tivoli, Barbaro, Aldobrandini
Water Chain: Bagnaia, Caprarola, Aldobrandini

Zoo: Castello (animal grotto), Versailles

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