Sunday, March 8, 2015


Stanza dell’Incendio di Borgo

The iconographic program alludes to the function that the room had at the time of Julius II when here met the Holy See's highest court, the Signatura Gratiae et Iustitiae, chaired by the pontiff

The room later became Leo X's dining room

The paintings aim to exalt the policy of Leo X by references to events in the lives of popes with the same name, Leo III and Leo IV


Commissioned in 1508 by Julius II to Pietro Vannucci, aka Pietro Perugino (about 1450/1523). Raphael did not touch the work of his teacher

In the four round panels “Holy Trinity”, “Creator enthroned between angels and cherubs”, “Christ as Sol Iustitiae and tempted by the devil”, “Christ between Mercy and Justice”


Painted in the year 1514/17 by the pupils of Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael) (1483/1520) for Leo X Medici (1513/21) who used the room as a dining room and wanted to show on the walls his political aspirations

Raphael produced himself only cartoons and drawings, as he was busy as architect of the new Basilica of St. Peter and had been appointed Superintendent of the Antiquities of Rome

“Fire in the Borgo neighborhood” close to the Vatican, extinguished, according to the Liber Pontificalis, by the blessing of Pope Leo IV (847/855) in 847
Almost completely painted by Giulio Pippi aka Giulio Romano (1499/1546) and Giovanni Francesco Penni (about 1496/1528)
In the background there is the fa├žade of the old Basilica of St. Peter

“The spatial composition does not tend to harmonize in a balanced structure the subsequent units of the action, as well as the architecture does not form an organic dimensional container: they appear rather like slipping surfaces, like scenes and backdrops for theater, offering to the story a symbolic reference to the place and allowing figures to emerge in leading roles, dominating the scene, isolated and mighty. Here the style of Raphael has a radical transformation, which opens a new course in the history of painting: Raphael leaves the tension to comparisons with nature and the basis of organic form inherited from 1400s, altering the harmonious and proportional foundation of fifteenth-century perspective. His interest focuses on the expressiveness of the individual elements, giving up their integration” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

“The favor with which the two figurative inventions of the 'Boy embracing the column' and the 'Woman with the pitcher on her head' in the Fire of Borgo were received and proposed again in many representations in the sixteenth century cannot be explained only by the typically Mannerist taste for ennobling quotations, but also by their specific iconographic role: they propose themselves to viewers as spectators in the image, suggesting indirectly, but with the evidence of two wonderful vivid dramatic inventions, some type of reaction, a behavior pattern, a proposal for self-identification” (Antonio Pinelli)

“The fresco of the Fire in the Borgo Neighborhood with its definitive overcoming of the symmetry in architecture, with the increase of spatial impression of the whole and the high motion content of each single figure indicates further progress (...). Some of the individual figures, for the lovely agreement between the motives of the clothing and the movement, belong to the most beautiful things that Raphael ever created” (Hermann Voss)

“Coronation of Charlemagne” by S. Leo III (795/816), by Giovanni Francesco Penni, with the help of Giulio Romano, where Charlemagne is represented with the face of the French king Francis I and Leo III with the face of Leo X
It alludes to the agreement signed in Bologna in 1515 between Francis I and Leo X

“Naval Victory of Leo IV over the Saracens” at Ostia in 849 by Giulio Romano, with Leo IV represented as Leo X
Behind him are portraits of Cardinal Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena and Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, cousin of the Pope, who would later himself become pope with the name of Clement VII (1523/34)
The painting alludes to the desire of Leo X to organize a crusade against the Turks. He failed and it was the last time anybody tried to organize a crusade

“Oath of St. Leo III” maybe by Giulio Romano or Pietro Bonaccorsi aka Perin del Vaga (1501/47)
Leo III (795/816) was purified with a unilateral statement in St. Peter's Basilica of “false accusations” on December 23, 800, two days before crowning Charlemagne emperor
We do not know what kind of charges they were and, in any case, at the time it was enough to assert one's innocence before God to be believed innocent. The character with the gold chain on the left is Charlemagne
The painting alludes to the Lateran Council of the years 1512/17 that Leo X was leading at that time, during which he reaffirmed the bull of Boniface VIII Unam Sanctam according to which the pope was accountable only to God

It has been suggested that the Reformation could have been avoided if the reforms of the Lateran Council had been more innovative or fully implemented. The promulgation of the 95 theses of Martin Luther in fact took place only six months after the closing of the Council itself

“The spiritual tension that had supported the programs of the first two rooms relaxes here to give way to the courtesan celebration of the reigning pope” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

In the lower part of the wall monochrome paintings “Six seated figures of emperors and kings protectors of the Church”

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