An exceptional discovery was made three years ago during a comprehensive restoration that began in March 2015. The restoration affected three walls of the large hall, which are 18 by 12 meters in size and the ceiling height is about 13 meters. The Hall of Constantine was designed by Pope Leo X (Medici) for meetings with representatives and diplomats.
The paintings were scheduled to be presented on April 20, 2020, during an international conference dedicated to the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death. However, the event was canceled due to the emergency situation caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Now the canvases that covered the paintings have been removed and the upcoming opening of the Vatican Museums will soon allow visitors to admire the beauty of shapes and colors that characterize the Hall of Constantine.
Photo: Vatican News
The frescoes are part of an iconographic cycle dedicated to Constantine. A large part of the paintings was done by Giulio Romano, Giovanni Francesco Penny, and other students and staff of Raphael. Two female figures of Justice and Friendship, however, stand out among them. They were painted in oil, and their strokes are characteristic of the master’s hand. According to the restorer Fabio Piacentini, the experts noted “the way the brush moves, and even the barely visible strokes with which small strands of hair are written.
Beneath the surface on the wall were found numerous nails, which were used to attach a layer of mastic or “Greek resin”. Raphael distributed the hot material on the wall and then coated it with a thin layer of white plaster to prepare for the paint application.
The restorers working in the Vatican Museums used careful cleaning methods, and as a result, the extraordinary colors and unmistakable chromatic tone of Raphael were clearly seen. Visitors to the museum will soon be able to appreciate all the iridescent, transparent, and subtle beauty created by an Italian Renaissance master.
The restoration of the Hall of Constantine – which also includes the vault – will continue this summer. This time, experts will restore the fourth and last wall on which Raphael’s pupils painted the mural “Donation to Rome”.
Fresco in the Hall of Constantine in the Vatican Apostolic Palace. Donation from Rome
Giovanni Francesco Penny
Meanwhile, the main exhibition to mark the 500th anniversary of Rafael’s death, which was closed three years after the coronavirus pandemic, will again receive visitors.
The show at the Scuderie del Quirinale Gallery will open on 2 June and will run for three months, until 30 August.
All the major lenders who contributed works to the show, including the Louvre, Prado, Uffizi, and National Galleries in London and Washington DC, have agreed to keep them in Rome for this period.
However, due to new stringent precautions, the gallery will receive far fewer visitors than previously thought. “It will most likely be a fifth of the expected number,” said Matteo Lanfranconi, director of the institution.
Tickets for the show must be booked online in advance. The visitors will be grouped into groups of six, and they will be accompanied by a security guard. He will not be a guide, but an escort who is responsible for security. The new group will enter the hall every five minutes, the total time of each visit will be 80 minutes. Throughout the summer, the exhibition will be open daily from 9:00 to 22:00.