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 frescoed frieze which runs along the upper part of the walls was commissioned from Michele Alberti and Jacopo Rocchetti in 1569. It portrays the Triumph of Lucius Aemilius Paullus over the King of Macedonia Perseus with the Capitoline and the Palazzo dei Conservatori in the background. The coffered wooden ceiling is the only one left among those carried out in the Palazzo by Flaminio Bolonger. This room also contains some large bronze sculptures: the Capitoline Brutus, the Spinario and the Camillus. The wooden ceiling is due to Flaminio Boulanger, who carried out the works in 1568.
The hall takes its name from a fresco that runs below the ceiling, which depicts the triumph of the Roman consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus over Perseus, king of Macedon (167 BC). The fresco, which was painted in 1569 by Michele Alberti and Jacopo Rocchetti, faithfully describes the ceremony as told by of the Greek historian Plutarch, goods and works stolen from the enemy as spoils of war were paraded for four days. The places and the buildings of Renaissance Rome are the backdrop of the sumptuous procession of the winner up to the Capitol, recognizable for its depiction of the new facade of the Palazzo dei Conservatori, which in those years was being built.
The magnificent triumphal processions are also evoked by the beautiful bronze vase kept in the room. The work is likely to have come to Rome as a booty of the war of conquest in the East in the I century BC. An inscription engraved on the board shows the name of Mithridates VI (Eupator Dionysius), king of Pontus between 120 and 63 BC.
The hall displays, among other works, some precious antique bronzes: the Boy with Thorn, also known as Cavaspina, which reproduces a young man removing a thorn from his foot, an eclectic work of the first century BC., and Camillus, also known as the Gypsy, representing a young cult officiant, both works were donated by Sixtus IV in 1471. The Capitoline Brutus is outstanding, one of the oldest Roman portraits, dating from the fourth or third century BC, it was donated in 1564 to the Capitol.
The wooden ceiling was carved in 1568 by Bolonger; the recent restoration has brought to light the elegant tone of colour, besides the abundance and variety of carvings.
Crater of Mithridates V Eupatore, Ceramics, 120-63 BC
Triumph of Lucio Emilio Paolo over Perseo, Fresco, Michele Alberti and Jacopo Rocchetti, 1569
Spinario, Sculpture, 1st century BC
Camillo, Sculpture, 1st century AD
Capitoline Brutus, Sculpture, 4th-3rd century BC
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.
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.
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.