Hall of the She-wolf, Conservators’ Apartment, Capitoline Museums

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”.

Ever since the middle of the 16th century, when it was an open three-arched loggia, this room has contained the bronze Capitoline She-wolf, which has become the symbol of Rome.

Embedded in the walls are fragments of Consular and Triumphal Fasti, lists of magistrates and triumphal victors from the time of the republic to the Augustan Age discovered in the Roman Forum and part of an arch dedicated to Augustus.

The pictorial wall decoration, dating back to the first decade of the XVI century and traditionally attributed to Jacopo Ripanda, is rather fragmentary and difficult to decipher.

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. The Capitoline Wolf is placed at the centre of the room. The dating of the work – traditionally dated to the first half of the V century BC, with many comparisons to Greek and Italic figurative production – was called into question by the results of Carbon 14 analysis performed on organic materials resulting from the casting process, which would bring the date to medieval times. The statue, donated to the Romans in 1471, became the symbol of Rome when, transferred to the Capitol, the twins Romulus and Remus (the legendary founders of the city) were added to the ancient bronze. Since then the work is stored in this building and from the Sixteenth century, according to witnesses at the time, was placed in this room, formerly an open space to the outside with three arches. The lodge was decorated between 1508 and 1513 with a series of frescoes attributed to Jacopo Ripanda. The subsequent inclusion of two large memorial stones caused the loss of much of the decoration, which is now preserved in an extremely fragmented state.

In 1586, on the back wall of the hall, a marble structure was put together from the elegant classical architecture of the Consular and Triumphal Fasti, a historical document of significant value, which lists on marble tablets the names of magistrates and triumphal victors from the time of the republic to the Augustan Age. These tablets were found in the Roman Forum in the Sixteenth century and were originally intended for a triumphal arch erected in honour of Emperor Augustus in 19 BC. The floor mosaic is invaluable: an ancient artefact found in 1893 and then reassembled in this space for its extraordinary symbolic value.

Highlights works
Coffered ceiling, Architectural element, 1865
Capitoline Wolf, Sculpture, 5th century BC or medieval
Fasti Capitoline Consular and Triumphal, Inscription, Augustean period (27 BC – 14 AD)
Fresco by Jacopo Ripanda: Campaign against the Tolostobogi.
Fresco by Jacopo Ripanda: Triumph of Lucio Emilio Paolo.

Conservators’ Apartment
The rooms making up the apartment on the first floor of the Palazzo, were used by the Conservators, or magistrates, for activities connected to their office; they therefore form a single entity, both as regards their function and their ornamental features. The rooms were also used for Public and Private Council meetings. The rich decoration of these reception rooms (frescoes, stuccoes, carved ceilings and doors, tapestries) has as its main theme the history of Ancient Rome, from its foundation to the Republican Age. The earliest cycle of frescoes goes back to the beginning of the XVI century.

The main floor of the Palace houses the Ceremonial Rooms of the Conservators, also known as the Apartment. They are the oldest part of the Palace: some rooms preserve parts of the series of frescoes painted at the beginning of the XVI century, whereas the decorations of the other rooms were renewed after Michelangelo’s renovation.

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The whole decoration of the Apartment, though it was painted separately and subsequently, present a uniform appearance dedicated to the extolling and memory of the virtues and value of the Ancients. Some ancient bronze sculptures were also installed in these rooms: they were presented by Pope Sixtus IV to the Roman people due to their symbolic value, in memory of the greatness of Rome which the papal government intended to renew.

The donation of the Sistine bronzes is considered to be the foundation of Capitoline Museums, since then several works of art, sculpture and paintings of value, were collected in the Capitol.

Capitoline Museums
The Musei Capitolini date back to 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV donated to the people of Rome a group of bronze statues that until then had been kept at the Lateran. These statues constituted its original core collection. Various popes subsequently expanded the collection with works taken from excavations around Rome; some were moved from the Vatican, some, such as the Albani collection, were bought specifically for the museum. Around the middle of the eighteenth century, Pope Benedict XIV created a picture gallery. A considerable quantity of archaeological material was also added at the end of the nineteenth century when Rome became the capital of Italy and new excavations were carried out whilst creating two completely new districts were created for the expanding city.

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.