The appearance of scagliola at the end of the sixteenth century should be seen in the context of huge changes that were taking place throughout Europe.  The full extent  of these changes – political, religious, economic, scientific and so on – goes far beyond the scope of this study; but their influence was also strongly felt in the architecture and decoration of palaces and churches, and that  is where the story of scagliola begins.

Main portico of the Palazzo Te, built 1524-1534 for Duke Federico II Gonzaga of Mantua.(r. 1519-1540).  The building was designed and decorated by the painter and architect Giulio Romano (1499-1546), a former pupil of Raphael.