After bidding my companions not to wait for me, and after further hours of careful ceiling-gazing, I was still stopped in my tracks by two small chambers of the Salette Borgia, whose early Renaissance ornamentation is noticeably different in style than the majority of the palace. Ironically these rooms are the entrance to what is now the Collection of Modern Religious Art, which many visitors nearly run through on their way to the Sistine Chapel.
These and other parts of the Borgia Apartments were decorated with wonderful frescoes and ornament including some stylish grottesche, and fresco murals, painted in 1493, by renown artist Pinturicchio and his sizable atelier of assistants.
These are some of the earliest grottesca paintings done in the Vatican.
|painted drapery with the Papal coat of arms of Alexander VI
|worn tile floors: evidence of hundreds of thousands of visitors passing through.
|A wall paneled with stenciled patterns, and a trompe l'oeil window.
Above it, a fresco by Pinturicchio depicting the Annunciation.
|Another detail of the ceiling- note the jewel tone color scheme
In 1891 the rooms and the artwork in them were restored under Pope Leo XIII and opened to the public. Now they seem to be treated as a mere passageway between the more famous parts of the museum... except by those of us who stop to look up.
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photos in this post by Lynne Rutter, Vatican City, 2008