The Capitoline Museums are the main municipal civic museum structure in Rome, part of the ” System of shared museums ” with an exhibition area of 12,977 m². Open to the public in the year 1734, under Pope Clement XII, they are considered the first museum in the world, intended as a place where art could be used by everyone and not only by the owners. There is talk of “museums” in the plural, as the Pinacoteca was added to the original collection of ancient sculptures by Pope Benedict XIV in the 18th century, consisting of works illustrating mainly Roman subjects.
The Museums’ collections are displayed in the two of the three buildings that together enclose the Piazza del Campidoglio: Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo, the third being the Palazzo Senatorio. These two buildings are linked by an underground tunnel, which contains the Galleria Lapidaria and leads to the ancient Tabularium, whose monumental arches overlook the Forum.
The Palazzo Nuovo houses the collections of ancient sculpture made by the great noble families of the past. Their charming arrangement has remained substantially unchanged since the eighteenth century. They include the famous collections of busts of Roman philosophers and emperors, the statue of Capitoline Gaul, the Capitoline Venus, and the imposing statue of Marforio that dominates the courtyard.
The Conservators’ Apartment contains the original architectural nucleus of the building, decorated with splendid frescoes portraying the history of Rome. The ancient Capitoline bronzes on display here add to the noble atmosphere: the Capitoline She-wolf, Spinario and the Capitoline Brutus.
On the first floor of the palace, a huge glass room, recently built, contains the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, which once stood in the Piazza del Campidoglio, and the imposing remains of the Temple of Capitoline Jupiter. A section is also dedicated to the most ancient part of the Campidoglio’s history, from its first inhabitation until the construction of the sacred building, displaying the results of recent excavations. The halls that overlook the room contain works from the Horti of the Esquiline; the hall which connects the room to the apartments of the Palazzo dei Conservatori contains the Castellani collection, testimony to nineteenth century collecting practices.
On the second floor, the Capitoline Picture Gallery contains many important works, arranged in chronological order from late mediaeval times to the eighteenth century. The collection includes paintings by Caravaggio (Good Luck and St. John the Baptist), a massive canvas by Guercino (Burial of Saint Petronilla) and numerous paintings by Guido Reni and Pietro da Cortona.
The Palazzo Caffarelli-Clementino holds the numismatic collection, known as the Medagliere Capitolino. On display are many rare coins, medals, gems and jewels, as well as an area dedicated to temporary exhibitions.
The creation of the Capitoline Museums has been traced back to 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV donated a group of bronze statues of great symbolic value to the People of Rome. The collections are closely linked to the city of Rome, and most of the exhibits as from the city itself.
Foundation and first acquisitions
Pope Sixtus IV was responsible for the creation of the Musei Capitolini’s nucleus when in 1471 he donated to the Roman People some bronze statues that had previously been housed in the Lateran (the She-Wolf, the Spinarius, the Camillus and the colossal head of Constantine, with hand and globe).
The return to the city of some traces of Rome’s past greatness was made even more important by their collocation on the Capitoline Hill, the centre of ancient Roman religious life and seat of the civilian magistrature from the Middle Ages onwards, after a period of long decline. The sculptures had intitially been arranged on the external façade and courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori. The originary nucleus shortly became enriched by the subsequent acquisition of finds from excavations taking place in the city, all of which were closely linked to the history of ancient Rome.
During the middle of the 16th Century a number of important pieces of sculpture were set out on the Capitoline Hill (including the gilded bronze statue of Hercules from the Boarius Forum, the marble fragments of the acrolith of Constantine from the Basilica of Maxentium, the three relief panels showing the works of Marcus Aurelius, the so-called Capitoline Brutus, and important inscriptions (including the Capitoline Fasti, discovered in the Roman Forum). The two colossal statues of the Tiber and the Nile, currently outside the Palazzo Senatorio, were moved at about the same time to Palazzo del Quirinale, while the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius was brought form the Lateran in 1538 on the wishes of Pope Paul III.
Capitoline Museum and Picture Gallery
The overall layout of the collection was altered in the second half of the XVI century, when the museum acquired an important group of sculptures following Pope Pius V’s decision to rid the Vatican of “pagan” images: notable works of art increased the collections thereby adding an aesthetic dimension to their hitherto generally historical nature.
With the building of the Palazzo Nuovo on the other side of the square it became possible from 1654 onwards to house in a more satisfactory manner the large collection of works that had been gathering in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, by utilising part of the new building. The Capitoline Museum, however, was only opened to the public during the course of the following century, after the acquisition, by Pope Clement XII, of a collection of statues and portraits of Cardinal Albani. Pope Clement inaugurated the Museum in 1734.
A few decades later, in the middle of the XVIII century, Pope Benedict XIV (who was responsible for the addition of fragments of the Forma Urbis from the Age of Severus, the largest marble street-plan of ancient Rome) founded the Capitoline Picture Gallery, which saw the conflation of two important collections, the Sacchetti and the Pio.
19th century transformations
Towards the end of the XIX century the collections underwent considerable expansion, following the designation in 1870 of Rome as capital of newly unified Italy, and consequent excavations for the construction of new residential quarters.
In order to accommodate the large amount of material emerging from these excavations, new exhibition areas were set up in the Palazzo dei Conservatori with the simultaneous creation of the City Council’s own archaeological warehouse on the Caelian Hill, subsequently known as the Antiquarium.
A number of sculptures were housed in an octagonal-shaped pavilion known as the “Octagonal Hall”, built for the purpose in the inner garden on the first floor of the Palazzo dei Conservatori. This period, like previous ones, also saw a number of important donations thanks to the generosity of private collectors; we should mention, above all, the Castellani collection of ancient pottery and the Cini collection of porcelain.
The Capitoline Coin and Medal Collection was also set up in this period, with the acquisition of a number of important private collections, and with several coins coming to light during archaeological excavations in the city.
The collections were re-arranged by Rodolfo Lanciani at the beginning of the XX century, and following by more drastic intervention in 1925, when the Mussolini Museum (subsequently the Museo Nuovo) was set up in the newly-acquired Palazzo Caffarelli. It was there that works of sculpture which had previously been housed in the Antiquarium on the Caelian Hill, hitherto reserved for the so-called “minor arts”, were moved.
In 1952 additional exhibition space, known as the Braccio Nuovo (New Wing), was created in a wing of Palazzo dei Conservatori. In 1957, the Musei Capitolini’ Junction Gallery was opened on occasion of the Third International Greek and Latin Epigraphy Congress. Built between 1939-41 to join the Capitoline buildings together, it became home to about 1,400 ancient Latin and Greek inscriptions, mostly originating from rooms in the city council’s Antiquarium on the Caelian HIll, and in part from the Musei Capitolini themselves.
Serious problems of water seepage and rising damp eventually led to the Junction Gallery being closed to the public, with the rooms in the Museo Nuovo and the New Wing of the Palazzo dei Conservatori also being struck off the museum’s itinerary.
In 1997, in order to make space in those areas which required renovation, sculptures from the Palazzo dei Conservatori, the Museo Nuovo and the New Wing were put on temporary display in the unusual exhibition area created in the old Acea power station on the Via Ostiense, known as the Montemartini Power Plant.
At the center of the program for the development of the Capitoline hill’s historical, architectural and artistic resources, albeit with full respect for its traditional role as seat of political power, we find the development and re-structuring of the Museum areas.
The redevelopment project was entrusted to the Dardi and Einaudi studios while the Roman Garden is the responsibility of architect Carlo Aymonino. The project aimed at the creation of a complex and fully-integrated Museum circuit, with the opening of new exhibition areas alongside the reorganization of some of the existing sectors and the opening of some sections hitherto closed to the public. The exhibition area has been considerably increased with the opening to the public of the Tabularium, linked to other buildings by means of the Galleria di Congiunzione, the reorganization of Palazzo Caffarelli and the acquisition of Palazzo Clementino, once an office block.
The museum itinerary has been enriched by the addition of new sections: the Capitoline Coin Cabinet in Palazzo Clementino and the Galleria Lapidaria in the Galleria di Conjunzione. Further renovation work concerns the transformation of the Roman Garden (Roman Garden) into a large glass covered hall and the reorganization of the Castellani Collection, the halls of the Roman Horti and the section dedicated to the Temple of Capitoline Jupiter.
Perhaps the most famous work that is preserved there is the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius; the one in the center of the square is a copy, while the original, after having undergone restoration works, is now placed in the new glass room, the Esedra of Marco Aurelio, in the Roman Garden, behind Palazzo dei Conservatori.
The visit to the other museum building, the Palazzo Nuovo, is included in the same entrance ticket; it can always be accessed from the square or from an underground tunnel excavated (connecting tunnel) in the 1930s and currently set up as a Lapidary Gallery (i.e. in charge of displaying epigraphs), which also gives access to the Tabularium and joins the two buildings. Here is the art gallery of museums in whose catalog there is the famous painting of San Giovanni Battista, the work of Caravaggio.
But there is also the symbol of the city, the bronze of the Capitoline she-wolf, long believed to be an Etruscan work of the fifth century BC and only recently considered by some restorers as dating back to the twelfth century; in all probability the original statue did not include the twins of the legend Romulus and Remus, who seem to have been added in the Renaissance. The famous colossal head of Constantine I, visible in the courtyard, dates back to the fourth century. Another bronze sculpture is the Horse from the alley of the Palms.
The masterpiece of medieval sculpture is the Portrait of Charles I of Anjou by Arnolfo di Cambio (1277), the first likely portrait of a living figure carved in Europe that has come down to us since the post-classical era.
Over time other and numerous historical collections were exhibited here, such as the Protomoteca (collection of busts and herms of illustrious men transferred from the Pantheon to the Capitol, by the will of Pius VII in 1820); the collection of Cardinal Alessandro Albani; that donated by Augusto Castellani in the second half of ‘ 800, consists of ceramic materials archaic (from’ VIII to the fourth century BC), of predominantly area Etruscan, but also production of Greek and Italic.
Palazzo dei Conservatori
The Palazzo dei Conservatori is located in Piazza del Campidoglio to the right of the Palazzo Senatorio and in front of the Palazzo Nuovo. The Palazzo dei Conservatori owes its name to the fact that it was the seat of the city’s elective judiciary, the Conservatories, who together with the Senator administered the eternal city. The building in this location was built by Pope Nicholas V. Michelangelo Buonarroti, who had been commissioned to work on the overall rearrangement of the square, designed the new facade, which however he was unable to see finished since he died during the works (in 1564).
His project redesigned the medieval facade of the building, replacing the portico with two orders: the Corinthian one formed by tall pilasters placed on large pedestals at full height, and the Ionic one that supports the vaults of the portico. Between these orders were placed a series of large windows, all of the same size. The works were continued by Guido Guidetti and completed in 1568 by Giacomo Della Portawho followed faithfully Michelangelo’s designs, leaving only to build a larger reception room on the first floor and, consequently, also a larger window, compared to all the others on the facade of the building. There were also transformations inside the palace, both for the construction of a large monumental staircase, and for the new redistribution of the rooms of the “Conservators’ Apartment”, which led to the destruction of the cycle of frescoes of the early sixteenth century that decorated the rooms overlooking Piazza del Campidoglio.
After passing the service spaces (ticket office, cloakroom, bookshop) you enter the courtyard.
The courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori has always represented, from the beginning, a point of attraction for the preservation of the memory of the ancient: the works that flowed into the palace represented that cultural continuity inherited from the ancient world, as if they represented a bridge in the virtual connection with a glorious past.
On the right side are the fragments of the colossal statue of Constantine I (head, hands, feet, part of the arms), found under Pope Innocent VIII in 1486. The statue stood in the western apse of the basilica of Maxentius, where some of its remains were found; the lack of the body suggested that it was an acrolith, built partly in marble and partly in gilded bronze on a load-bearing structure in wood and brick, for an overall height that was to reach 12 meters. The head alone measures 2.60 meters and the foot 2. The dating of the work oscillates between 313 (the year in which the basilica was dedicated to Constantine I) and the324 (when the diadem begins to appear in the portraits of the Roman emperor).
On the left side of the courtyard, reliefs depicting the provinces from the temple of Hadrian in Piazza Pietra have been placed. Some of these reliefs were found in the late 16th century, others later in 1883. The ancient temple was erected in honor of the emperor Hadrian, deified after his death. It is probable that the building site had already been started by Hadrian himself in memory of his wife Vibia Sabina, who died and deified in 136. The real construction was due to his successor, Antonino Pio, who completed it around 145.
On the back of the courtyard, under the portico built by Alessandro Specchi, there are: two colossal statues of Dacians in bigio morato marble (from the Trajan’s Forum), purchased by Pope Clement XI in 1720 from the Cesi collection and placed on the sides; in the center a statue of the seated goddess Rome, modeled on the Greek statues of Phidias, which probably belonged to a 1st century arch; finally there are two other statues of Dacians, always from the Cesi collection, purchased for the Capitoline Museums.
From the courtyard to go up to the first floor there is access to a staircase where there are some reliefs, three of which were part of a triumphal arch dedicated to Marcus Aurelius and arrived in the Capitol since 1515. They belonged to a series of twelve reliefs (eight of which were re-used on the arch of Constantine and one last, disappeared, of which a fragment remains, in Copenhagen). The reliefs, carved in two stages, in 173 and 176 had been attributed to an arcus aureus or arcus Panis Aurei in Capitolio cited by medieval sources and which stood on the slopes of the Capitol, at the crossroads between thevia Lata and the clivus Argentarius, not far from the church of Santi Luca e Martina, where the three reliefs of the Capitoline Museums had been reused. or perhaps near the column of Marcus Aurelius as a monumental entrance to the portico surrounding the “colchide” monument.
Two others instead belonged to a triumphal arch called “of Portugal” (transferred to the Capitol in 1664, after the destruction of the arch), concerning instead the figure of the emperor Publius Elio Traiano Adriano. In the first panel Adriano witnesses the apotheosis of his wife Vibia Sabina, in the second he is greeted by the goddess Roma and the genius of the Senate and the Roman people. A third panel, on the other hand, comes from Piazza Sciarra, always concerning the emperor Hadrian, and was purchased in 1573 by the Conservatories to complete the decorative cycle.
Then we find two wonderful mosaics with tiger and calf, almost symmetrical to each other (both 1.24 m high by 1.84 m wide). These would be two panels in opus sectile, built in colored marble (Roman works of the second quarter of the fourth century), coming from the Basilica of Giunio Basso on the Esquiline, the Roman consul of 317. Two other smaller panels are instead kept in the National Roman Museum of Palazzo Massimo.
The staircase leads to the “Conservators’ Apartment”, consisting of 9 rooms. This “Apartment” was closely linked to the function that the Conservatories performed which, together with the Prior of the Capo Rioni, represented the three Roman magistrates from 1305.
However, from the end of the 15th / early 16th century, following the commission of the first cycle of frescoes in the reception rooms, in addition to the introduction of some important bronze sculptures, there was a real artistic and decorative revival of the palace of the Conservatives. The subjects used in this first phase of frescoes that have come down to us were inspired by the history of Rome (Ab Urbe condita libri) by Tito Livio, more precisely the birth of the city and the maximum virtues of some of the most representative personalities in republican history. Among these, the frescoes in the “Sala di Annibale” and in the “Sala della Lupa” stand out.
Subsequently, even the frescoes commissioned in the following years, continued to follow this decorative criterion, in which the subjects of the episodes narrated on the ancient history of Rome, continued to constitute the central pivot of the entire artistic characterization of this “apartment”, albeit had been performed in completely different cultural and historical contexts.
Hall of the Horatii and Curiatii
After the Michelangelo renovation, the Public Council met in the great hall. Even today it is often used for important ceremonies, such as for example the signing of the 1957 Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community.
In 1595 a new series of frescoes was commissioned to Giuseppe Cesari, called Cavalier d’Arpino, to replace the previous one. In the entire structure of the Conservatories, Cesari will carry out works such as: the Finding of the she-wolf (1595 – 1596), the Battle between the Romans and the Veienti (1597) and the Combat between the Horatii and the Curiazi (1612 – 1613); he returned to complete the cycle in 1636 to execute the Rape of the Sabines, Numa Pompilio instituted the cult of theVestali in Rome and the Foundation of Rome.
In the room there are also a marble statue of Gian Lorenzo Bernini which represents Urban VIII Barberini (executed between 1635 and 1640) and a bronze one by Alessandro Algardi which represents Innocent X Pamphili (executed between 1646 and 1650). The room was finally connected by three walnut doors, all carved with coats of arms and tiles depicting some scenes taken from the history of Rome.
Room of Capitani
Frescoed by the Sicilian painter Tommaso Laureti between 1586 and 1594, according to a style referable to Giulio Romano, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Raphael. The exaltation of the virtues of ancient Rome also continues in the representations of this room, in which the following paintings are present: “Muzio Scevola and Porsenna” (which is inspired by Buonarroti), “Orazio Coclite on the Sublicio bridge”, “Justice di Bruto “(evidently inspired by Raphael’s painting) and” La Vittoria del Lago Regillo “. These four frescoes are mainly inspired by the Roman historian Tito Livio and his Ab Urbe condita libri.
This room was second in size and decorative richness only to the previous one, “Sala degli Orazi e Curiazi”. It was also chosen to celebrate in addition to the virtues of the ancient Romans, also those of those contemporary men of the late sixteenth century who had distinguished themselves for merits and values in the Papal States. Thus were placed on the walls of the plaques in their memory, as well as a series of large celebratory statues of leaders, reusing ancient finds that were partly stumped (including Alessandro Farnese, Marcantonio Colonna, winner of Lepanto in 1571). In 1630 to celebrate Carlo Barberini, brother ofPope Urban VIII, the loricate trunk of an ancient statue was reused, to which the sculptor Alessandro Algardi made legs, arms, in addition to the shield; Gian Lorenzo Bernini completed the statue by creating its bust. Then there are two other sculptures by Ercole Ferrata, one dedicated to Tommaso Rospigliosi, the other to Gianfrancesco Aldobrandini.
Hall of Hannibal
The only room to have preserved the original frescoes of the first decades of the 16th century (around 1516). Recent studies have questioned the execution of the main fresco, which was believed to belong to the painter Jacopo Ripanda. The series of frescoes in the room belongs to the cycle of the Punic wars. Below the scenes we find a whole series of painted busts of Roman military leaders. The episodes narrated are: “Triumph of Rome over Sicily”, “Hannibal in Italy”, “Peace negotiations between Lutazio Catulo and Amilcare” and the “Naval Battle”, which tradition attributes to the battle of the Egadi Islands of 241 BC.
Dedicated to the Madonna and Saints Peter and Paul patrons of the city, it was frescoed in the years 1575 – 1578 by the painters Michele Alberti and Iacopo Rocchetti. Originally the conservatories could attend the functions from the neighboring “room of the Horatii and Curiazi”, through a grate. Back in Hannibal’s room, you can enter the next room “degli Arazzi”. Recent renovations have seen the recomposition of the altar (dismantled after 1870), adorned with precious colored marbles which was probably made under Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644). It is surmounted by a painting by Marcello Venustinamed Madonna with Child between Saints Peter and Paul (1577 -1578).
The room is also enriched by some paintings by the painter Giovanni Francesco Romanelli, which deal with the life of the two saints and the Evangelists. There is also the fresco called Madonna with child and angels, attributable to Andrea d’Assisi.
Destined in 1770 to house the papal canopy. The tapestries were made by the Papal Factory of San Michele a Ripa. The subjects of the tapestries were executed by Domenico Corvi and reproduced works preserved in the Capitol, such as the Romulus and Remus by Pieter Paul Rubens, the sculpture of the goddess Rome (called Roma Cesi, preserved in the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori), the Vestale Tuccia and the Camillo and the master of “Falerii”.
The room previously (in 1544) had been painted with a fresco on African Scipio, attributed to Daniele da Volterra. The ceiling was made with hexagonal coffered from the XVIII century, with a blue background, where golden carvings, helmets, shields and various weapons are placed.
From here, to continue the route in the order of numbering of the rooms, you must go back to the Sala dei Capitani.
Hall of the Triumphs
The first of the rooms that look towards the city is called “Sala dei Trionfi” because in 1569 some frescoes were commissioned inside, to the painters Michele Alberti and Iacopo Rocchetti (both pupils of Daniele da Volterra). The frieze represents the triumph of the Roman consul Lucius Emilio Paolo over Perseus of Macedonia, which took place in 167 BC according to what the historian Plutarch handed down to us. And also for this room other paintings have been made such as: “La deposition” by Paolo Piazza (from 1614), “Santa Francesca Romana “by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli (from 1638), the” Vittoria di Alessandro su Dario “by Pietro da Cortona.
The wooden ceiling is due to Flaminio Boulanger, who carried out the works in 1568.
Finally, we find some famous Roman bronzes: the Spinario, the Camillus (donated by Pope Sixtus IV in 1471), the so-called portrait of Lucio Giunio Bruto (donated by Cardinal Rodolfo Pio in 1564), commonly called Capitoline Brutus, and one splendid bronze crater of Mithridates VI Eupatore.
Hall of She-Wolf
This room, on whose walls are affixed the Fasti consulares (from 483 to 19 BC) and those triumphales (from 753 to 19 BC), found in the Roman Forum in the fifteenth century (and adorning the Parthian arch of Augustus in 19 BC), was anciently a loggia that opened towards the city, adorned with pictorial frescoes now almost completely lost. These frescoes were almost destroyed with the insertion in the walls of the ancient Fasti and the tombstones of two important leaders of the time, Alessandro Farnese (1545-1592) and Marcantonio Colonna(1535-1584). These were paintings dating from around the years 1508 – 1513 (attributable to Jacopo Ripanda), whose subjects seem to have been the “triumph of Lucius Emilio Paolo” and a “Campaign against the Tolistobogi “.
In the center of the room is the so-called ” Capitoline Wolf ” (donated by Pope Sixtus IV), while in 1865 the current wooden coffered ceiling was made.
Hall of the Geese
It houses the head of Medusa by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, which represents Costanza Piccolomini Bonarelli, an eighteenth-century portrait of Michelangelo Buonarroti and a whole series of small bronze works that had been purchased by Pope Benedict XIII. We also remember a bronze vase where we find the bust of Isis depicted; the rich coffered ceiling with golden vases and shields; just below a frieze where various landscapes are framed. In the center of the room a canteen decorated with scenes from the life of Achilles.
The group of works was related to the sack of Rome by the Galli Senoni of 390 BC, when the sacred geese of the Capitoline temple of Juno warned Marco Manlio, consul of 392 BC, of the attempted entry by the besieging Gauls, thus making their plan fail.
Hall of the Eagles
It is a small room decorated with numerous views of Rome, such as the Piazza del Campidoglio (shortly after the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius had been transferred), the Colosseum and others, as well as a rich wooden ceiling, in which scenes are represented painted and gilded rosettes. Then there is a small sculpture of the goddess Diana -Artemide Efesina.
Hall of Castellani
In these three rooms are exhibited objects from the donations of Augusto Castellani of the years 1867 (“collection of Tyrrhenian vases “) and 1876 (large collection of ancient objects). Here, to maintain the conceptual order of the visit, it is advisable to return to the entrance staircase. Augusto Castellani was a goldsmith, collector and antiques dealer active in Rome, with a large international clientele. Unlike his brother Alessandro, the goal of his business was mainly – and always remained – to increase his collection which, as he himself stated, “must remain in Rome”. At the time of the Unification of Italy, Augustus actively participated in the establishment of the new capital, also contributing to it as a founding member of the Municipal Archaeological Commission (which in those years of building fever had an impressive amount of new finds available), and of the Industrial Artistic Museum of Rome, founded in 1872 by the two Castellani and Prince Baldassarre Odelscalchi, on the model of the analogues of Paris, London and Vienna. In this context he was also appointed, from 1873, honorary director of the Capitoline Museums.
The Castellani collection includes about 700 finds, coming from Etruria, Latium vetus and Magna Grecia, in a chronological span that goes from the VIII to the IV century BC. The first group of finds consisted of the findings of the Etruscan necropolises of Veio, Cerveteri, Tarquinia and Vulci, as well as Lazio sites such as those of Palestrina, some centers of Sabina and the agro falisco (Civita Castellana), as well as obviously in Romesame. His brother Alessandro ceded many materials to Augusto from his Campania and southern Italy collections.
The rooms are organized as follows: in the first the ceramics were ordered, including those imported from Greece, in the second those produced locally. The numerous Attic vases found especially in the Etruscan necropolises thus allow archaeologists to reconstruct the history of artistic production, not only of ancient Greece, but also of all the other civilizations present in the Mediterranean during the VIII-IV centuries BC
Hall of modern splendor
These rooms, where the names of the civic magistrates (senatores) of the city from 1640 to 1870 are engraved on marble tables in the Fasti consulares capitolini. From the following room XV the galleries containing materials from the excavations of the late nineteenth century in the various suburban Horti begin, which were intensively built in that period to house the population of the new capital (doubled in the first thirty years of the unification of Italy), between the Esquilino, the Quirinale and the Viminale. Witness and active protagonist of these excavations was Rodolfo Lanciani, who gave ample documentation of it, also in his capacity as secretary of the Municipal Archaeological Commission.
Halls of the Horti Lamiani
Here are collected materials from excavations in the Esquilino area, between Piazza Vittorio and Piazza Dante. Among these, part of a splendid alabaster floor and fragments of the architectural decoration in opus sectile of a cryptoporticus, the Venus Esquiline and the famous Portrait of Commodus as Hercules.
Halls of the Taurian and Vettian Horti and Horti di Mecenate
Here, among other things, the Marsyas at torture and the so-called head of the Amazon, Rhyton of Pontios (neo-Attic fountain from the Horti Maecenatis) are exposed.
Here are two large ornamental craters and the portraits of Adriano, Vibia Sabina and Matidia from the Taurian Horti.
Exedra of Marco Aurelio
This exedra was obtained by the architect Carlo Aymonino on the area of the Roman garden, where Virgilio Vespignani, in 1876, had already placed a pavilion where the best finds from the excavations of that period were exhibited. The two main pieces now permanently exhibited in the large glazed exedra are the original equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, placed indoors after the restoration, the gilded bronze Hercules from the Forum Boarium, the fragments of the colossal bronze statue of Constantine belonging to the donation initial of Sixtus IV (together with the Capitoline Wolf).
In December 2005in fact, this new wing has been inaugurated, which with a glass room widens the exhibition space of the Museums. The project also involves the new arrangement of the foundations of the temple of Jupiter Capitoline . The opening of this new wing is part of a larger project (“Grande Campidoglio”) of rearrangement and expansion of the museums, which saw the preparation of the Galleria Lapidaria (closed several years earlier for renovation), the acquisition the Palazzo Clementino, now home to the Capitoline coin (collection of numismatics) and reset the Palazzo Caffarelli. In the adjacent rooms are placed the windows of the Castellani Collection, donated to the Municipality of Rome byAugusto Castellani.
Area of the Temple of Jupiter
The exhibition space at the end of the path presents finds from the archaic temples of the 6th century BC excavated in the mid- twentieth century in the Sant’Omobono area, and a sector that illustrates the results of the most recent excavations carried out in the lower layers of this area of the Capitoline hill, which document its occupation from the 10th century BC.
Capitoline Picture Gallery
The Capitoline Picture Gallery, originally from the collection of the Marquis Sacchetti family and the Pio di Savoia princes. it is part of the complex of the Capitoline Museums, housed on the Capitol in the Palazzo dei Conservatori and in the Palazzo Nuovo. The Capitoline collections – the oldest public collections in the world – originated way back in 1471, with the donation, by Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere, of some ancient bronzes: the famous Lupa was included in the group, at the time still without the twins, added later. In 1734 the Capitoline Museum was founded, located in the halls of the Palazzo Nuovo. The merit of the creation of the Pinacoteca is divided between Pope Benedict XIV and his secretary of state, Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga, one of the main patrons and collectors of eighteenth-century Rome. In 1748 over 180 paintings were purchased by the Sacchetti family, owner of one of the most important Roman collections, formed during the seventeenth century by Marcello Sacchetti and his brother, Cardinal Giulio.
Over the course of time the patrimony of the Pinacoteca has considerably increased thanks to the arrival of numerous paintings, whichCapitol for purchases, bequests and donations. With the Cini donation of 1880, numerous decorative art objects became part of the collection, including a remarkable collection of porcelain. Administered, in the first hundred years of life, by the papal structures of the Camerlengato and the Sacred Apostolic Palaces, the Capitoline Picture Gallery has been under the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Rome since 1847. The collection preserves paintings by Caravaggio, Titian, Pieter Paul Rubens, Annibale Carracci, Guido Reni, Guercino, Pietro da Cortona, Domenichino, Giovanni Lanfranco, Dosso Dossi and Garofalo.
Capitoline medal collection: the collection of coins, medals and jewels of the Municipality, established in 1872 and open to the public in 2003.
The medal collection was born following a legacy of Ludovico Stanzani of 1872, and was established following the interest of Augusto Castellani. Subsequently, a large group of Roman and Byzantine aurei and solids, coming from the Giampietro Campana collection and a republican denarii of that of Giulio Bignami, came together in the collection. In 1942 the treasure of via Alessandrina became part of the Medagliere, found during the demolitions for the construction of via dell’Impero, the current via del Fori Romani, in the home of an antique dealer who had hidden them in his home. The treasure consisted of 17 kilos of gold, between coins and jewels. The medal table was opened to the public in 2003.
According to common opinion, the building was intended to house the state public archives: the most important public deeds of ancient Rome, from the decrees of the Senate to the peace treaties. These documents were engraved on bronze tabulae (hence the name tabularium for any archive from the Roman world). The name of the Capitoline building, however, derives from an inscription, preserved in the building in the Renaissance, mentioning an archive: it could have been one or more rooms, not necessarily an alleged ‘state archive’ which occupied the entire complex. Among other things, the archives of the state administration were scattered in various buildings in the city.
Currently the Tabularium is part of the complex of the Capitoline Museums and is accessed from the Lapidary Gallery that connects Palazzo Nuovo to Palazzo dei Conservatori. The basement 73,60 m long, with walls of blocks of tufa of ‘ Aniene and lava stone, says today’s Senatorial Palace, seat of the municipality of Rome. At first it was possible to access the Tabularium from the Forum through a staircase of 67 steps, still very well preserved, but at the time of Domitian with the construction of the Temple of Vespasian the entrance to the forum was blocked.
Among the many inscriptions we remember that of the ex voto to the goddess Caelestis for a happy journey (III century). The dedicatory text reads: ” A Caelestis vittoriosa Iovinus dissolved his vow “.
The palace was built only in the 17th century, probably in two phases, under the direction of Girolamo Rainaldi and then of his son Carlo Rainaldi who completed it in 1663. However, the design, at least of the facade, must be attributed to Michelangelo Buonarroti. It was built in front of the Palazzo dei Conservatori (closing the view of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoelifrom the square) of which faithfully reproduces the facade designed by Michelangelo with the portico on the ground floor and the slightly oblique orientation, compared to the Palazzo Senatorio, in order to complete the symmetrical design of the square characterized by a trapezoidal shape. Since the 19th century it has been used for museums. The internal decorations in wood and gilded stucco are still the original ones.
The internal space on the ground floor houses an arcade with large statues (such as that of Minerva or Faustina maggiore – Cerere), once belonging to the Vatican Belvedere Collection and later donated to the city of Rome.
The courtyard opens in the middle of the atrium, where we find the fountain surmounted by the statue called del Marforio, so appealed following its discovery in the sixteenth century, in the Forum of Mars (Martis Forum, name that the ancients attributed to the Forum of Augustus). The Marforio was placed in the courtyard with an outline of ancient statues; two rectangular niches framed in travertine welcomed, after various alterations, the two statues of Satyrs carrying a fruit basket on their heads. They are two mirror statues depicting the god Pan, probably used as telamons in the architectural structure of Pompey ‘s theater, and kept for a long time not far from the place of discovery, in the courtyard of the Palazzo della Valle (not by chance they are called Satyrs of the Valley). The treatment of marble and the rendering of the modeled allow to date them to the late Hellenistic age. The treatment of marble and the rendering of the modeled allow to date them to the late Hellenistic age.
On the new fountain in the background of the courtyard, in 1734 Clement XII placed a commemorative plaque for the inauguration of the Capitoline Museum, surmounting it with his own coat of arms.
Also in the courtyard there is currently a colossal statue of Mars, found in the 16th century at the Forum of Nerva. Identified until the eighteenth century with Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, later he was recognized as the god of war in a military outfit, on whose armor two winged griffins and a jellyfish are carved. Then there is a group characterized by Polyphemus, who holds a young prisoner at his feet.
Egyptian monuments of the room
During the pontificate of Clement XI a series of statues found in the area of Villa Verospi Vitelleschi (Horti Sallustiani) were acquired which decorated the Egyptian pavilion built by the Roman emperor, Hadrian. It consisted of four statues, which were placed in the Palazzo Nuovo. Later, however (from 1838), almost all Egyptian sculptures were transferred to the Vatican.
The Egyptian Monuments Room is accessed today through the courtyard; behind a large glass wall are the large granite works. Among the most representative works, a large bell-shaped crater from the Villa Adriana and a series of animals symbol of the most important Egyptian gods: the crocodile, two cynocephalics, a sparrowhawk, a sphinx, a beetle, etc.
Earthly rooms on the right
The name “terrestrial rooms” identifies the three rooms on the ground floor to the right of the atrium which house epigraphic monuments of considerable interest; among all it is important to mention the fragments of post-Cesarian Roman calendars in which the new year results, which Caesar defined 365 days, as well as lists of magistrates called Fasti Minori, in relation to the most famous Fasti consulares, preserved in the Palazzo dei Conservatori.
In the first room there are numerous portraits of Roman private individuals, among which we note the one perhaps by Germanicus Julius Caesar, son of Druze major, or Drusus himself; the itinerary of T. Statilio Apro and Orcivia Anthis; the Sarcophagus with reliefs depicting an episode from the life of Achilles.
Proceeding from the ground floor you arrive in front of a double flight of stairs at the end of which the Gallery begins. The long gallery, which runs longitudinally on the first floor of the Capitoline Museum, connects the various exhibition rooms and offers the visitor a large and varied collection of statues, portraits, reliefs and epigraphs arranged by the eighteenth-century conservatories in a casual way, with one eye turned more to the architectural symmetry and to the overall ornamental effect than to the historical-artistic and archaeological one.
On the walls, within squares, there are small-sized epigraphs, including a large group from the colombarium of freedmen and freedoms of Livia.
In the Gallery there are numerous statues such as that of Hercules restored as Hercules killing the Hydra (marble, Roman copy of a Greek original of the 4th century BC, restored in 1635; Provenance: location of the church of Santa Agnese in Rome); the fragment of the leg of Hercules fighting the Hydra (strongly reworked in the seventeenth-century restoration); the statue of an injured warrior also called Capitoline discobolus (of which the only torso is ancient, while the rest is the work of the restoration carried out between 1658 and 1733 by Pierre-Étienne Monnot; it could be a copy of Myron ‘s discus thrower; it could be been restored on the model of the statues of Pergamum known as the “little barbarians”);
The Statue of Ledawith the swan (representation of the divinity Zeus), whose theme is erotic (the statue could be a Roman copy of the group attributed to Timothy of the fourth century BC); statue of a boy Heracles choking the snake (150-200 ca., collection of Cardinal Alessandro Albani) who recently wanted to be recognized in a young Caracalla or even in the son of Marco Aurelio, Marco Annio Vero Cesare; Eros with the bow (Roman copy from Lysippus, from Tivoli); Statue of a drunk old woman, marble sculpture dating back to around 300-280 BC and known from Roman copies, among which the best are at the Glyptothek of Monaco (h 92 cm) and at the Capitoline Museums in Rome.
Hall of Colombe
The room takes its name from the famous floor mosaic: the mosaic of the doves, found in Tivoli at the Villa di Adriano and which is attributed to a Greek mosaicist named Soso. The works contained here belonged mostly to the collection of Cardinal Alessandro Albani, whose acquisition is at the origin of the Capitoline Museum. The arrangement of male and female portraits (including a portrait of the Roman emperor, Trajan; a male portrait of the republican era), along shelves that run the entire perimeter of the room’s wall, dates back to an eighteenth-century design project and is still visible, albeit with some imperceptible changes. An arrangement never altered is that of the Roman sepulchral inscriptions posted in the mid-eighteenth century in the upper part of the walls. Inside the room we remember:
The bronze tabula (III century) with which the Collegio dei Fabri di Sentinum (Sassoferrato, Marche) assigned Coretius Fuscus the honorary title of patron;
The iliac tabula (1st century);
A bronze inscription from Aventino containing a dedication to Septimius Severus and the imperial family, placed in 203 by the vigiles of the IV cohort of the royal one;
The decree of Gneo Pompeo Strabone (the so-called bronze of Ascoli), with which special privileges were granted to some militant Spanish knights in favor of the Romans in the battle of Ascoli (90-89 BC);
The oldest remnant of a bronze decree of the Senate preserved almost entirely: the Senatoconsulto concerning Asclepiade di Clazomene and the allies (78 BC), where the title of Roman Populi friends was attributed to three Greek navarchi who had fought alongside the Romans in the social war, or perhaps in the Sillan war (83-82 BC). The text was written in Latin with a Greek translation, which remained at the bottom of the table, which allowed the integration of the mutilo script.
In addition to the “mosaic of the doves”, in the room we find the “mosaic of the scenic masks”.
Located in the center, the statue of a little girl with a dove (marble, Roman copy from a Hellenistic original of the second century BC), a figurative motif that finds a possible antecedent in the reliefs of the Greek funerary steles of the fifth and fourth centuries BC.
Cabinet of Venus
This small polygonal room, similar to a nymphaeum, frames the statue called Venere Capitolina, found during the pontificate of Clemente X (1670-1676) at the basilica of San Vitale; according to Pietro Santi Bartoli the statue was located in some ancient rooms together with other sculptures. Pope Benedict XIV bought the statue to the Stazi family in 1752 and donated it to the Capitoline Museum. After various vicissitudes at the end of the treaty of Tolentinohe returned definitively to the Museum in 1816. Venus has slightly larger dimensions than the real (h. 193 cm) and is made of precious marble (probably Parian marble); the girl is represented leaving the bathroom, while in a demure attitude she covers her pubis and breasts; Roman copy from Praxiteles. The sculpture, which is one of the best known in the museum today, appears in all its beauty in this small room of the 19th century. which opens onto the gallery, in a suggestive and ethereal setting.
Hall of the Emperors
The emperors’ room is one of the oldest rooms in the Capitoline Museum. Ever since the exhibition areas were opened to the public in 1734, the curators wanted to arrange the portraits of the Roman emperors and the characters of their circle in a single room. The current layout is the result of various reworkings implemented over the past century. It consists of 67 portrait busts, a seated female statue (in the center), 8 reliefs and a modern honorary epigraph. The portraits are arranged on two levels of marble shelves, the visitor can thus chronologically follow the evolution of Roman portraiture from the republican age to the late ancient period.
At the center of the statue of room Flavia Julia Helena, Augusta of the ‘ Roman Empire, concubine (or maybe wife) of’ Emperor Constantius, as well as the mother of Emperor Constantine. Catholics venerate her as empress Saint Helena.
Among the most remarkable portraits, those of young Augustus with a crown of laurel leaves and adult Augustus of the “Actium type”, of Nero, of the emperors of the Flavian dynasty (Vespasian, Titus and Domitian) or of the emperors of the second century (Trajan, Adriano, Antonino Pio, Marco Aurelio young and adult, Lucio Vero, Commodo youth and adult).
The Severian dynasty was also well represented with the portraits of Septimius Severus, Geta, Caracalla and also those of Elagabalo, Massimino il Trace, Traiano Decio, Marco Aurelio Probo and Diocletian. The series ends with Honorius, son of Theodosius.
There is no shortage of female portraits, with their complex hairstyles, their wigs and their elaborate curls; we remember the consort of Augusto Livia Drusilla, that of Germanicus, Agrippina Maggiore, Plotina, Faustina maggiore and Giulia Domna.
Through the series of portraits the visit path winds in a helical way clockwise, starting from the upper shelf entering on the left, ending at the end of the lower shelf on the right. The visitor will appreciate the evolution of artistic taste in the representation of Roman portraits and fashion (hairstyles, beards, etc.).
Hall of the Philosophers
As in the case of the “Sala degli Imperatori”, the philosophers’ room was born, at the time of the foundation of the Capitoline Museum, from the desire to collect portraits, busts and herms, of poets, philosophers and rhetoricians of antiquity. In the room there are 79 of them. The journey begins with the most famous poet of antiquity, Homer, represented as an old man, with a beard, flowing hair and a dull gaze, an indication of blindness. Follows Pindar, another well-known Greek poet, Pythagoras, with his turban on his head, and Socrates with a fleshy nose similar to that of a Silenus. Also present are the great Athenian tragediographers: Aeschylus,Sophocles and Euripides.
Among the many characters of the Greek world, some portraits from the Roman era are also exhibited, among them Marco Tullio Cicerone, famous statesman and scholar, represented little more than fifty years old in the full of his intellectual and political faculties.
The Great Hall
The hall of Palazzo Nuovo is certainly the most monumental environment of the entire Capitoline museum complex. It is worth mentioning the large portal that opens into the long wall of communication with the Gallery, designed by Filippo Barigioni in the first half of the eighteenth century, arched, with two winged Victories of exquisite workmanship.
On the sides and in the center of the room, some of the most beautiful sculptures of the Capitoline collection are placed on high and ancient bases. At the center of the room are the large bronze statues, among which stand out the bigio morato marble sculptures of the old Centaur and the young Centaur (found in Villa Adriana and purchased by Pope Clement XIII for the Capitolina collection in 1765). All around on a second level, shelves with a series of busts (like one of Trajan, a copy of the 16th century). Then there are some statues of Roman emperors such as Marcus Aurelius in military clothes (datable to 161-180, from the Albani collection), the Augustus who holds the world in his hand (with body copied from theDiadumeno di Policleto) and Adriano -Marte (from the Albani collection).
In the Gallery there are other and numerous statues, such as: Asclepius (in bigio morato marble, 2nd century from an original of the early Hellenism; origin: Albani collection); an Apollo from the Omphalos (from a Greek version of 470-460 BC by the sculptor Calamide) from the Albani collection; an Ermes (Roman marble copy from Lisippo; origin Villa Adriana from Tivoli); a statue of Pothos restored as Apollo Citaredo (Kitharoidos, Roman copy from a Greek original from Skopas); Marcus Aurelius and Faustina minor (the parents of Emperor Commodus, revisited as Mars andVenus and datable to around 187 – 189); a young satyr (2nd century from an original of late Hellenism; Albani collection); a “hunter with hare” (datable to the III century, age of Gallieno), found near Porta Latina (in 1747); Harpocrates, son of Isis and Osiris, found in the sheep of Villa Adriana and donated to the Capitoline collection by Pope Benedict XIV in 1744; Athena promachos (5th century BC prototype copy attributed to Plicleto, Albani collection); and many others.
Hall of Fauno
The room takes its name from the famous sculpture present in the center of the environment since 1817, the ” Red Faun ” found in Tivoli in Adriano’s villa. The Faun statue was found in 1736 and restored by Clemente Bianchi and Bartolomeo Cavaceppi. It was purchased by the museum in 1746 and very soon became one of the most appreciated works by visitors of that century.
The walls are covered with inscriptions inserted in the eighteenth century, divided into groups according to the content and with a section created for brick stamps. Among the epigraphic texts we mention the 1st century Lex de imperio Vespasiani (decree with which the emperor Vespasian is given particular power), on the right wall. This precious document, testified by the fourteenth century in Campidoglio, is in bronze and has a technical peculiarity: the text is not engraved, but is drawn up in fusion. There are also busts and statues.
Hall of Galata
This room takes its name from the central sculpture, the Galata Capitolino (Roman work of the III century, copy of the Greek original in bronze of the III century BC), mistakenly considered a gladiator in the act of falling on his shield, purchased in 1734 by Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi by Alessandro Capponi, president of the Capitoline Museum, becoming perhaps the best known of the collections, repeatedly replicated on engravings and drawings.
The Galata is surrounded by other copies of remarkable quality: the wounded Amazon, the statue of Hermes – Antinous (purchased by Cardinal Albani by Pope Clement XII around 1734; it comes from Villa Adriana), and the Satyr at rest (from original by Praxiteles of the 4th century BC, donated by Benedict XIV to the Capitoline Museums in 1753), while against the window, the delightful Rococo group of Cupid and Psyche symbolizes the tender union of the human soul with divine love, according to a theme dating back to philosophy Platonic who had great success in artistic production since the early Hellenism. Then there are the busts of theCesaricide, Marco Giunio Bruto, and the Macedonian leader Alexander the Great (marble, Roman copy from a Hellenistic original of the III-II century BC).
The wounded Amazon (from an original of the fifth century BC; origin Villa d’Este in Tivoli, within the perimeter of Villa Adriana), is also also called “Sosikles type”, from the signature affixed to this replica. Generally attributed to Policleto (or Fidia), it has slightly larger dimensions than the truth. The raised arm is the result of a restoration, perhaps originally holding a spear on which the figure was resting. The head is turned to the right, the left arm instead lifts the drapery showing the wound. It was donated by Benedict XIV to the Capitoline Museums in 1753.
In 1997, due to serious water and humidity infiltration problems, the Lapidary Gallery and various sectors of the Palazzo dei Conservatori had to be closed to the public; to allow the renovation works hundreds of sculptures were transferred to some areas of the former Montemartini power plant (located along the Via Ostiense), where an exhibition was set up. The collection includes 400 Roman statues, along with epigraphs and mosaics. Most of the finds constitute the most recently acquired pieces, coming from the excavations carried out after the unification of Italy, in particular in the ancient Roman horti.