"Cortile della Pigna, Vatican City, Rome" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Tuesday 10th January 2012
The Courtyard of Pine-Cone takes this curious name from a huge (4m high) bronze pine-cone dated from 1century a.C., which started its way here from Giardini di Iside in the zone of Pantheon, then moved to the hall of ancient St Peter's and finally got its present position in the court of Vatican Museums in time of the rein of Julius II. It is covered by a big arch, designed by Bramante. In the middle of the courtyard stands huge metal sphere, which turns around itself. The sculpture is by A.Pomodoro and was put here in 1990.
Inside the Vatican Museums you will find the Cortile della Pigna between the Sistine Salon, the Museo Chiaramonti, the Galleria dei Candelabri, the Museo Pio-Clementino and the Museo Gregoriano Egizio. Today the lowest terrace is still called the Cortile del Belvedere (Belvedere courtyard), but the separated upper terrace is called the Cortile della Pigna because of the colossal Roman bronze pinecone, once a fountain, that occupies the center of the niche. The cortile is part of Bramante's Belvedere courtyard and was given the name because of the large bronze pinecone in front of the large niche. It was actually mentioned by Dante in The Divine Comedy. It dates from the Roman era and was found in Agrippa's Baths near Piazza Navona . It was probably created by the sculptor Salvius and may have been part of a fountain. It was later placed in the atrium of St Peter's with two bronze peacocks.
Cortile della Pigna is the second part of ancient Cortile del Belvedere, which was famous for its Renaissance knight tourneys.
The Courtyard of the Belvedere (pictured above) was cut in 3 parts when Sixtus V built his library across the court: Cortile del Belvedere, Cortile della Pigna and Cortile della Biblioteca.
Inside of the two-storied palaces, forming Courtile della Pigna, there is a part of the Vatican Museums, the greatest collection of antiques in one of the greatest museum complexes in the world (42,000 sq m). After Julius II who mostly collected classic sculptures, other popes, especially in 18-19 centuries continued the work of acquisition, selection and exposition of the most precious treasures of art.
Egyptian Museum (see on the above picture: wooden painted mummy case 1000 b.C.). It is located on the first floor, north-side palace. Was founded by Gregory XVI in 1839. It is the first museum in Europe dedicated to Egyptian art. The museum collections were organized by one of the first Italian egyptologists, L.M.Ungarelli, from the art material imported by Romans and the one that excavations of 18-19 centuries brought to the day-light. It contains mummy cases, sarcophagus, ornaments, figurines, jewellery, busts, statues, ceramics, glass, lamps, mummies of holy animals (snake, cat, sparrow-hawk) and the collection granted to Pius XII by Nedda Grassi, wife of the ambassador in Cairo, Carlo Grassi.
The Chiaramonti Museum. First floor, east-side palace. It is a sculpture gallery 300m long, named after its founder Pius VII Chiaramonti and ar- ranged by A.Canova starting from 1817. Here are displayed 1,000 Roman works, many of them are the copies of Greek originals of 5-4 centuries b.C.. (see some examples below)
The Clementine Gallery. First floor, west-side palace. Was added to the Vatican Library by Clement XII in 1732; in 1818 was decorated by De Angelis with the painted scenes of Pius VII's life. The gallery contains a collection of plans of Rome and valuable 16-17 centuries Italian and German book-bindings, bozzetti by G.L.Bernini, bronze head of a Muse, 2 bronze griffins of the Imperial period.
The Museum of Pagan Antiquities of the Library (Museo Profano della Biblioteca). First floor, west-side palace. It was begun by Clement XIII in 1767, with additions from excavations in 1809-15; was completed in the time of Pius VI, when it was decorated by Valadier. The ceiling paintings symbolize Time. The museum contains busts, mosaic, statuettes, statue, bronze heads of emperors Augustus and Nero.
The New Wing. First floor, south side palace. It is an extension of the Chiaramonti gallery (70m long, 8m wide). Was built by R.Stern in 1817-22 for Pius VII. It contains some of the most valuable sculptures in the Vatican. See on the left Augustus of Prima Porta, one of the most famous images of the emperor Augustus. It was discovered in 1863 in the place called Prima Porta, which is 12 km north from Rome's center.
The Gallery of the Candelabra (pictured below). Second floor, west-side palace. It is named after the pairs of marble candelabra, of the Roman Imperial period, placed on either side of the arches which divide it into 6 sections. The ceiling has frescoes by D.Torti, in the pavement are marbles from the warehouses of ancient Rome. The gallery contains sarcophagi, frescoes, sculptures, etc.
The Gallery of Tapestries (Galleria degli Arazzi). Second floor, west-side palace. It is divided into 3 rooms, and contains the so-called "New School" series of tapestries executed after Raphael's death from cartoons by his pupils by the manufacture of Pieter Van Aelst in Brussels, some of them were copied from drawings he had left. Also displayed here are Roman and Flemish tapestries.
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