- Street: Viale Vaticano,
- City: Roma
- Country: Italy
- Zip/Postal Code: 00165
- Listed: June 17, 2017 8:23 pm
- Expires: 301 days, 20 hours
“The Vatican, the Museum of Museums,” not only houses the extensive collections of art, archaeology and ethno-anthropology gathered by the Popes over the centuries, but also contains some of the Apostolic Palace’s most extraordinary and artistically significant rooms.
Any history of the museums’ collections should rightly begin with the history of the rooms that the Popes over the ages chose as places of residence or private prayer and reflection. The first ones, in chronological order, are the Niccoline Chapel and the Borgia Apartment.
In the first year of his papacy, Pope Nicholas V (Parentucelli), one of the greatest humanists of the time, called on Fra Angelico to decorate the private chapel of his apartments in the Apostolic Palace with a cycle of frescoes dedicated to St Stephen and St Lawrence. Fra Angelico, a renowned artist as well as a Dominican friar, depicted scenes from the saints’ lives, drawn from the “Acts of the Apostles.”
The decorations, richly detailed and full of meaningful allusions, make the Niccoline Chapel a perfect example of the link between religious and humanistic thought in fifteenth-century painting.
Founded by Pius VII Chiaramonti (1800-1823) for a collection of Roman busts and statues, the Museum was organized by the neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova in 1807. There are about a thousand sculptures, including portraits of Emperors and gods, several fragments, friezes and relieves of sarcophagi. Noteworthy is a funerari monument of a miller dating from the 1st century A.D., which was found at Ostia.Braccio Nuovo Gallery
Built by Pius VII and inaugurated in 1822. It contains Roman statues and Roman copies of Greek original statues; mosaics are set on the floors. The most remarkable works are the following: a statue of Augustus found at Prima Porta (north of Rome); a Roman copy of the Doryphorus from an original by the Greek sculptor Polykleitos (440 B.C.); two splendid gilded bronze peacocks, that may come from Hadrian’s Mausoleum, copies of which are in the Courtyard of the “Pigna”; the statue of Nile, a Roman copy of a 1st century Hellenistic statue originally found in the Temple of Isis, near the Pantheon and showing the great Egyptian river with its tributaries.
In 1925 Pope Pius XI organised a major event: the Vatican Exposition, to make known the cultural, artistic and spiritual traditions of all peoples. The great success of the Exposition, which displayed more than 100,000 objects and works of art from all over the world to more than a million visitors, convinced the Pontiff to transform the temporary event into a permanent exhibition. Thus the Missionary Ethnological Museum was born; it was housed in the Lateran Palace until its transfer, at the beginning of the 1970s, to its current home within the Vatican Museums.
The Room of the Aldobrandini Wedding, previously known as the Room of Samson on account of the ceiling frescoes by Guido Reni narrating the Stories of Samson (Samson Lifting the Gate of Gaza, Samson Killing the Philistines, Samson Wrestling with the Lion) owes its name to the famous Roman fresco on the rear wall. It was built under Paul V by Flaminio Ponzio between 1605 and 1608. The floor, dating from the mid-nineteenth century, is composed of Roman age mosaic fragments: the median pastiche, geometric, has as its central emblem Achilles on a wagon dragging the body of Hector, and is from Vigna Brancadoro (Rome, Via Tiburtina).For a short period the room housed the collection of Prints (after the demolition of the special Gabinetto to make way for the construction of the New Wing in 1822), but from 1838 was used for the display of Roman age paintings: the Aldobrandini Wedding, the group of the Heroines of Tor Marancia and the female figure from the estate of St. Basil on the Via Nomentana, to which the Odyssey cycle of Via Graziosa was added in 1853, and the Ostia frescoes from 1968 onwards.
More recent additions have been made: the inscription of the insula Sertoriana and the mosaics of the Furietti collection (Three garlands and Beasts in an exotic landscape), previously in Clement XIII’s Profane Museum.
The Carriage Pavilion is a section of the Historical Museum and since 1991 it has been in the Papal Apartment of the Lateran Apostolic Palace.
The Sistine Chapel is named after his commissioner, Sixtus IV della Rovere (1471-1484), who decided to have a large room built where the “Cappella Magna” once stood. The “Cappella Magna” was a mediaeval fortified hall that the Papal Court used for assemblies. At that time, it was made up of about 200 members: a college of 20 cardinals, representatives of religious orders and important families, a choir, and a large number of laymen and servants. The Sistine construction was also to be a defensive structure, warding off both the Medici family, because of the continuous tension between the rulers of Florence and the Pope, and Muhammad II’s Turks, who at that time were threatening the western coast of Italy. Its construction started in 1475, during the Jubilee Year proclaimed by Sixtus IV, and ended in 1483, when on August 15th the Pope solemnly inaugurated the new Chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption. The project, designed by Baccio Pontelli, included the use of a third of the height of the existing mediaeval walls.
Visit the official website for complete details,The Vatican Museums, Vatican City, Italy.www.vaticanstate.va/content/vaticanstate/en/monumenti/musei-vaticani.html
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