Friday, 23 March 2012

Borgia Apartments: Sala del Credo


V.  Sala del Credo (Hall of the Creed in the Torre Borgia) (JB 69)
Length: 12,92 m; width: 7,52 m (SV 25).
4. St James the Great and Zechariah.
5. St Matthew and Hosea.
6. St James the Less and Amos.
7. St Philip and Malachi.
8. St Bartholomew and Joel.
9. St Thomas and Daniel.
10. St Simon and Malachi.
Six steps in the thick wall from the Sala delle Arti Liberali lead up into this apartment, and the walls are painted in panels [1897]. It is called the Room of the Creed because the lunettes contain pictures of apostles and prophets each holding a scroll with a verse of the apostles’ creed (SV 25). Sladen notes that in “‘the tower room[s],’ says Ricci, ‘Bernardino (i.e., Pinturicchi) is only seen as a directing influence.’ In each lunette, with its yellow border and many coloured ornaments, is the half-length figure of a Prophet or an Apostle [actually "a prophet and an apostle]” (DBWS 448). Redig de Campos, too, states that Pinturicchio was probably the designer and Antonio da Viterbo the painter of the figures in this room (DRC(b) 104).
 
Page URL: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AAppartamento_borgia%2C_sala_del_credo%2C_soffitto.jpg
Attribution: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  
Unlike in the first four apartments, in this one virtually no sign of the original decorations were found except only the barest of traces around the north window [as well as the south one; see below]. Restorers had to devise designs that would harmonise with those of the ceiling and the remains of the old floor tiling. Redecoration involved the use of “skilfully made canvas screens” that left the original walls unaffected in order to enable a fresh examination of possible remnants of decorations in the future (DBWS 432-33).

Transverse in length to the previous room, it has windows to the south (without a cross), north and east. The vaulted ceiling contains twelve lunettes and pendants that rest on pyramidal brackets. The walls [in SV’s time], draped in painted canvass, in light green and gilt network, are copied from the Sala dei Misteri. “Each two lunettes form a square, which is adorned with a border in different coloured figures, foliage and flourishes upon white ground. This decoration remained only over the south window, it is now imitated in the other squares of double lunettes. On two opposite walls are the arms of Alexander VI and Leo XIII . . .” (SV 25). [Volpini’s description about the lunettes forming a square is not clear, perhaps because of changes made since then.]

The cornice, on brackets, is “marbleised”. The window recesses show traces of high-quality decoration that may have been retouched. Each window has two seats of marble slabs with sculptured supports, one free and the other set into the parapet (SV 25-26.

The words “Alexander Borgia Valentin. PP. VI.” are engraved on the marble architrave of the opposite door. A shield in the centre of the vault carries the legend “Alexander Borgia PP. VI fundavit”, and two roundels display his arms radiant. The remainder of the ceiling is decorated with a meandering garland that originates from the lateral pendants of the vault. It runs up to entwine the Borgia devices in arabesque circlets and rhombuses. Trophies are represented in the triangles of the pendants (SV 26).


Paul Letarouilly, Le Vatican, 1882
 Above: An example of the ceiling vault design

The lunettes depict apostles and prophets (SV 26). Sladen provides the following background: “According to a Mediaeval legend, the Creed was composed by the Apostles before they separated to preach the Gospel throughout all the world, each writing an article. So to each is attributed his own verse, which is inscribed on broad, fluttering streamers. Ricci says that they were painted by the same hand as the Grammar and the Sibyls” (DBWS 448).



1. St Peter and Jeremiah.
2. St John and David.
3. St Andrew and Isaiah.
4. St James the Great and Zechariah.
5. St Matthew and Hosea.
6. St James the Less and Amos.
7. St Philip and Malachi.
8. St Bartholomew and Joel.
9. St Thomas and Daniel.
10. St Simon and Malachi.
11. St Thaddeus and Zechariah.
12. St Matthias and Abdias (Obadiah).
(Malachi and Zechariah are repeated in this list. The Italian Wikipedia list in the article on the Borgia Apartments is the same. I was unable to trace any other lists for comparison.)

To the left of the entrance door are 1) St Peter and Jeremiah; and 2) St John and David. Opposite the entrance are 3) St Andrew and Isaiah; 4) St James the Great and Zechariah; 5) St Matthew and Hosea; 6) St James the Less and Amos. To the right of the entrance are 7) St Philip and Malachi; 8) St Bartholomew and Joel. Over the entrance are 9) St Thomas and Daniel; 10) St Simon and Malachi [repetition?]; 11) St Thaddeus and Zechariah [repetition?]; 12) St Matthias and Abdias (Obadiah). All the work in this room is believed to be by Benedetto Bonfilio [Bonfigli], done after Pinturicchio’s designs (SV 26-27). 
See also http://www.ornamentalist.net/2009_09_01_archive.html for two outstanding photos of the ceiling vault of this apartment.
Sources:

DBWS:   Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen: The Secrets of the Vatican, London: Hurst and Blackett, 1907. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Secrets_of_the_Vatican


DRC(b):    D Redig de Campos: “The Apostolic Palace”, in The Vatican: Spirit and Art of Christian Rome. Edited by John Daley. Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York; Harry N. Abrams Publishers, New York, 1982.


SV:   Salvatore Volpini: Description of the Borgia Apartments Restored in the Vatican Palace (1897). Vatican Press: Rome. 1897.


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