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Vatican-Borgia Aprtment-astrologyAllegory of Astrology (Fresco)

Hall of the Sibyls, Borgia Apartment, Vatican

The Borgia Apartment is a group of special rooms in the Apostolic apartment of the Vatican which were constructed by Pope Alexander VI for personal use. The Borgia Apartment rooms received their name from Pope Alexander VI’s family name, Borgia. It is in these rooms that the pope used to receive his special visitors among them kings, princes and political leaders. The apartments continued being used for different purposes during the papacy of different popes until today. The rooms were damaged during the French of occupation of Rome.

At the end of the 1930s, The Borgia Apartment, which consisted of six rooms, changed its purpose. Four out of the six rooms were used for museum space while the remaining two were converted to the Vatican Library. There was a time when Borgia Apartment was closed to the public. This was due to the renovation works that were underway.

The rooms of Borgia Apartment are: Room of the Sibyls, Room of the Creed, Room of the Liberal Arts, Room of the Saints, Room of the Faith.

Room of the Sibyls: it as not part of the pope’s private rooms but was open to the public. Public audiences were received in this room. It is rich in paintings which were mainly done by Giovanni da Udine and Pierin del Vaga. The most famous artwork in this room is the Zodiac

Room of the Creed: this is the room where the mysteries of Jesus are portrayed. They include the annunciation, nativity, adoration of the Magi, the resurrection and the ascension of Christ, the descent of the Holy Spirit and the assumption of the Blessed Virgin. These scenes are represented by colorful pictures on the walls of the room.

Room of the saints: this room contains several scenes of lives of St. Catherine of Siena, St. Barbara, St. Paul, St. Antony and St. Sebastian. The room is full of beautiful frescoes and they were done by Pinturicchio himself.

Room of the Liberal Arts: it has murals of the seven main liberal arts namely:  dialectics, grammar, geometry, rhetoric, music, arithmetic and astrology. This room is used exclusively for the display artworks and is very rich in them. It has been used for several art exhibitions at the Vatican during the past years.

The Room of Faith: the room contains numerous decorations that are said to have suffered from over painting. This room is said to have been dedicated to Pope Leo XIII.

One outstanding feature that all the rooms of Appartamento Borgia share is that they are rich in art, painting and decorations. All the frescoes in these rooms are exclusive and done by great artistes of Rome. All the rooms were restored in 1889 during the papacy of Pope Leo XIII. Today, majority of the rooms of Appartamento Borgia are used for the Vatican Collection of modern Religious Art. They contain hundreds of paintings, murals, frescoes and sculptures.


Vatican-Sala dei Pontefici-zodiac ceilingSala dei Pontefici, ceiling decoration

Borgia Apartment, Vatican

(photo by R.L. Ohlhausen)

Sala dei Pontefici is the public entrance hall to the Borgia Aprtment.
The room was originally painted by Pintorrichio’s workshop. Its redecoration was ordered by Leo X in about 1520 – either just before or shortly after Raphael’s death. The splendid all’antica fresco and stucco decoration of the vaulted ceiling was carried out by the young Perino del Vaga and the much older Giovanni da Udine, and may to some extent reflect Raphael’s ideas. Most of the major figures can be attributed to Perino. The theme is astrological: the planets, zodiacal signs and constellations represented in the many ceiling panels are thought to show Leo’s cosmic predestination and the return of the Golden Age under his papacy. The central medallion shows four angels/victories bearing the keys of St Peter and the Pope’s coat-of-arms is represented in stucco in the four corners. The lunettes and walls were never painted.

An extensive and good description of the Borgia Apartment (even if does not have any images): http://art.yodelout.com/pintoricchio-the-borgia-apartments/

http://commons.wikimedia.org, http://vatican.com, http://www.arscentre.com, http://www.cavallinitoveronese.co.uk