Tuesday, April 21, 2015



Founded by Nicholas V Parentucelli (1447/55) in 1451 and made “official” by Sixtus IV Della Rovere (1471/84)

The building was erected in the years 1587/89 by Domenico Fontana (1543/1607) for Sixtus V Peretti (1585/90) dividing in two, the Belvedere courtyard by Bramante

About 800,000 printed volumes, 100,000 maps and engravings, 75,000 manuscripts, 70,000 archival volumes, more than 100,000 separate original documents, about 8,200 incunabula


Gallery of Urban VIII

Decoration begun by Giovanni Paolo Schor (1615/74) and resumed in 1756

Two “Planispheres” of 1529, one by Diego Ribera, and one by Giovanni da Verrazano, in which the New World was still largely “Terra Incognita”

“Celestial globe painted” 1567 by Giovanni Antonio Vanosio (1535/93) for Cardinal Marco Sittico Altemps
It was attributed to Giulio Romano for a misunderstood phrase written by Giorgio Vasari


Two Sistine Rooms



“St. Peter's Basilica according to the design of Michelangelo” and “Transportation of the obelisk in St. Peter's Square” 1590 by Giovanni Guerra (1544/1618) and Cesare Nebbia (1536/1614)

Four tiny fragments of the moon collected by the astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission and given to the pope by the U.S. President Richard Nixon
They are exhibited near a Vatican flag that was taken to the moon by the same astronauts

Small Gallery of the Library

“Hebrew Bible” 1295 by the Urbinate


Sistine Hall

1587/89 Domenico Fontana 80 x 16 m (262 x 53 feet)
It was the reading room of the library

Pendentives and lunettes “Views of Rome”

Between the windows “The book through the centuries” and “Glorification of the pontificate of Sixtus V”

The decoration was directed by Giovanni Guerra (1544/1618) and Cesare Nebbia (1536/1614) and executed by Paul Brill (1554/1626), Ventura Salimbeni (1568/1613), G.B. Ricci (about 1550/1624), Andrea Lilio (about 1555/1632), Orazio Lomi aka Orazio Gentileschi (1563/1639), G.B. Pozzo (1561/91), Avanzino Nucci (1552/1629) and others

“What Ventura Salimbeni had in mind was the unusual color effect, the originality in composition: he cared little for careful preparation and diligent execution. And since the enormous works done under Sixtus V and Clement VIII did not allow a careful examination of individual works, Salimbeni obtained the desired result: his work was chromatically distinguished from the other painters' and attracted the attention” (Hermann Voss)

The wooden cabinets of 1645 once contained manuscripts


Two Pauline Rooms

Prepared for Paul V Borghese (1605/21) for storing Greek codes

“Episodes from the Life of Paul V” 1620 by G.B. Ricci (about 1550/1624)

In Room II

“Machine to prepare papal bulls” invented by Donato Bramante (1444/1514)

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