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  • You are in: Home » musei » RAPHAEL'S ROOMS - Vatican

RAPHAEL'S ROOMS - Vatican

RAPHAEL'S ROOMS - Vatican

The four Stanze di Raffaello ("Raphael's rooms") in the Palace of the Vatican form a suite of reception rooms, the public part of the papal apartments. They are famous for their frescoes, painted by Raphael and his workshop. Together with Michelangelo's ceiling frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, these are the grand fresco sequences that mark the High Renaissance in Rome. The Stanze, as they are invariably called, were originally intended as a suite of apartments for Pope Julius II. He commissioned Raphael, at the time a relatively young artist from Urbino, and his studio in 1508 or 1509 to redecorate the existing interiors of the rooms entirely. It was possibly Julius' intent to outshine the apartments of his predecessor (and rival) Pope Alexander VI, as the Stanze are directly above Alexander's Borgia Apartment. They are on the third floor, overlooking the south side of the Belvedere Courtyard.

Running from east to west, as a visitor would have entered the apartment, but not following the sequence in which the stanze were frescoed, the rooms are the Sala di Costantino ("Hall of Constantine"), the Stanza di Eliodoro ("Room of Heliodorus"), the Stanza della Segnatura ("Room of the Signatura") and the Stanza dell'incendio del Borgo ("The Room of the Fire in the Borgo"). After the death of Julius in 1513, with two rooms frescoed, Pope Leo X continued the program. Following Raphael's death in 1520, his assistants Gianfrancesco Penni, Giulio Romano and Raffaellino del Colle finished the project with the frescoes in the Sala di Costantino.

  • Stanza di Costantino: The largest of the four rooms is the Sala di Costantino ("Hall of Constantine"). Its paintings were not begun until Pope Julius and indeed, Raphael himself had died. The room is dedicated to the victory of Christianity over paganism. Its frescoes depict this struggle from the life of the Roman Emperor Constantine, and are the work of Giulio Romano, Gianfrancesco Penni and Raffaellino del Colle. Because they are not by the master himself, the frescos are less famous than works in the neighboring rooms. Continuing a long tradition of flattery, Raphael's assistants gave the features of the current pontiff, Clement VII, to Pope Sylvester in the painings.


  • Stanza di Eliodoro: The next room, going from East to West, is the Stanza di Eliodoro ("Room of Heliodorus"). It takes its name from one of the paintings. The theme of this private chamber was the heavenly protection granted by Christ to the Church. The four paintings are The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple, The Deliverance of Saint Peter, The Meeting of Pope Leo I and Attila and The Mass at Bolsena. In all of these frescoes, Raphael flatteringly includes his patron, Pope Julius II, as participant or observer.


  • Stanza della Segnatura: The"Room of the Signatura" was the first to be decorated by Raphael's frescoes. It was the study housing the library of Julius II, in which the Signatura of grace tribunal was originally located. The artist's concept brings into harmony the spirits of Antiquity and Christianity and reflects the contents of the pope's library with themes of theology, philosophy, jurisprudence, and the poetic arts, represented in tondi above the lunettes of the walls. The theme of this room is worldly and spiritual wisdom and the harmony which Renaissance humanists perceived between Christian teaching and Greek philosophy. The theme of wisdom is appropriate as this room was the council chamber for the Apostolic Signatura, where most of the important papal documents were signed and sealed.


  • Stanza dell'incendio borgo: This room was named for the Fire in the Borgo fresco which depicts Pope Leo IV making the sign of the cross to extinguish a raging fire in the Borgo district of Rome near the Vatican. This room was prepared as a music room for Julius' successor, Leo X. The frescos depict events from the lives of Popes Leo III and Leo IV. The other paintings in the room are The Oath of Leo III, The Coronation of Charlemagne by Leo III, and The Battle of Ostia. Though the Fire in the Borgo was based on Raphael's mature designs it was executed by his assistants, who painted the other three paintings without his guidance.

 
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