The Pinacotheca of the Vatican Museums in Rome consists of a large collection of paintings brought together by a succession of popes. The vast collection is spread across 18 rooms. The oldest works of art in the Pinacotheque were painted in the Middle Ages, the most recent in the 19th century.
Pinacotheca Vatican Museums Rome
Address, opening hours and entrance fee
Address, opening hours and entrance price are those of the Vatican Museums.
History Pinacotheca Vatican Museums Rome
The building that houses the Pinacotheca was commissioned by Pope Pius XI in 1931, with the intention of better accommodating the collection of paintings assembled over the centuries by the various Popes.
Many of the paintings exhibited in the Pinacotheca had been sent to Paris by Napoleon in 1797, but were brought back to Rome in 1815 after the Congress of Vienna. This was done at the insistence of the famous sculptor Antonio Canova, among others.
Rooms and highlights
Room 1: “Primitive” Painters
The artworks in Room 1 were painted from the 12th to the 14th century. They are called “primitive” because they were painted before the era of Giotto. The scenes painted on wooden panels generally have a gilded background. The main character is in the center and the sides depict events from his/her life. There is no perspective and the figures are depicted clearly and without coloring.
Room II: Giotto
Giotto is considered the greatest medieval artist of Italy. In addition to the work of this painter, there are works by artists from the so-called Sienese school of the 14th century on display. Highlights: “Jesus before Pilate” (Pietro Lorenzetti) and the “Blessed Redeemer” (Simone Martini). By Giotto himself, the most striking is the “Stefaneschi Triptych” named after the patron and painted on both sides. The central panel shows St. Peter on a throne decorated with minute mosaics.
Room III: Early 15th Century Painting
The gilded background disappears in this era and people start to work with perspective (from the central point of the paintings). Highlight: “Madonna and Child, San Domenico and Santa Caterina” (Beato Angelico).
Room IV: Melozzo da Forlì
The undisputed highlight in the room dedicated to this 15th century painter is formed by the fragments of the fresco “Music-making Angels” transferred from the apse of the Santi XII Apostoli Basilica. Almost as famous is another fresco, “Sistus IV and il Platina” (1477), which depicts the appointment of Bartolomeo Sacchi as the prefect of the Biblioteca Apostolica.
Room V: 15th century painting.
In this century, many paintings had the (ruins of) ancient buildings as their subject. An example is the “Miracle of San Vincenzo Ferrer” painted by Ercole de’ Roberti.
Room VI: 15th Century Poliptychs
In Room VI one can see polyptychs by artists who had not completely shaken off the Middle Ages and still showed characteristics of 14th century art (gilded background, many details) in their work.
Room VII: Umbrian art
Highlights in this room are “The Virgin with Child and Four Saints,” painted by Perugino in 1495, and the “Saint Jerome on the Throne,” painted by the father of the famous Raphael, Giovanni Santi.
Room VIII: Tapestries & Raphael
And not just any tapestries. In addition to a “Last Supper” inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting, there are also some tapestries that used to grace the walls of the Sistine Chapel. Painted by Raphael, they include a “Coronation of the Virgin” (1503) and a “Madonna of Foligno” (1512), along with what is considered one of his masterpieces, “Transfiguration” (1520).
Room IX: Unfinished Leonardo
The “Saint Jerome” painted by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1482 was never completed and shows a rather emaciated saint. Another highlight in this room is Giovanni Bellini’s “Compassion with the Died Christ.”
Hall X: 16th century painters from the Veneto
Highlights in this room are Titian’s “Madonna di San Niccolò dei Frari” and Sant’Elena by Veronese.
Room XI: Late 16th Century
Representative painters in this room include Vasari “”Stoning of Santo Stefano”, Caracci “Sacrifice of Isaac”, Cavalier d’Arpino (“Mary’s Message”) and Barocci (“Pause during the Flight into Egypt”).
Room XII: Early 17th Century Painters.
The main paintings in this room are “The Communion of Saint Jerome” (Domenichino, 1616), “Crucifixion of Saint Peter” (Guido Reni) and “Saint Matthew and the Angel” (also by Guido Reni), “Martyrdom of Saint Erasmus” (Nicolas Poussin) and a “Descent from the Cross” by Caravaggio.
This room features works by Pietro da Cortona, Poussin and van Dyck.
Genre art from the 17th and 18th centuries.
More genre art from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Room XVI: Wenzel Peter
This painter from Prague lived from 1745 to 1829. The painting “Adam and Eve in the Earthly Paradise” is characterized by an unprecedented variety of flora and fauna.
Room XVII: Bernini
This room displays plaster models that Bernini made for his sculptures in St. Peter’s.
Room XVIII: Greek icons
The last room of the Pinacotheque is dedicated to painted Greek icons from the 15th to the 19th century.