Audio File length: 2.52
English / USA Language: English / USA

As you can imagine, Raphael and the new Pope Leo X, who was the son of Lorenzo the Magnificent and an art and antiquity enthusiast, immediately got along on an intellectual level. Unlike his predecessor, Leo X was a man of peace, but in the following years he faced the storm of the Reformation, and his unresponsive attitude seemed inadequate in the face of Martin Luther's controversy and his crude criticism of the Church of Rome.

In the third room you can immediately sense a different, humanistic, and archaeological spirit, as if Leo X wanted to recall historical episodes linked to his predecessors with the same chosen name.

The fresco in the room is named after, The Fire in the Borgo, was painted in 1514 and shows how Leo IV had miraculously extinguished a fire in the Roman quarter known as Borgo. And you've probably noticed that Raphael's style has changed again in this room: the figures are clearly inspired by classical art, and if you know the story of the Aeneid, the reference to Aeneas fleeing from the fire of Troy while carrying his father is quite clear. The scene and the atmosphere may seem a little rhetorical, but in exchange for this you'll likely be enchanted by the crystalline sense of color and the refined representation of beauty, especially in the women trying to extinguish the fire.

Keep in mind that this is the only fresco in the third room that was painted by Raphael: the other three were made by collaborators in his workshop, including the increasingly well-known Giulio Romano, the future master of Palazzo Te in Mantua. Over the years Raphael began to take on the role of supervisor, which left him more time to address his interests in architecture, archaeology, and the protection of artistic heritage: he was appointed superintendent of antiquities with the task of guarding and organizing the archaeological collections that accumulated in the Vatican.

And in fact he only designed the fourth room, known as the Room of Constantine, as well as prepared some drawings. It was finished five years after his death by his best students, including Giulio Romano.


FUN FACT: the walls of the Room of Constantine also have a very unusual "portrait" that you must have noticed, which is of Annone. Annone was an elephant that the king of Portugal had donated to Pope Leo X, who kept and cherished it in the Vatican Gardens.

And with this we have finished our tour of the Raphael Rooms. MyWoWo thanks you for staying with us, and will see you at the next Wonder of the World!

Download MyWoWo! The travel app that tells you about the Wonders of the World!

Share on