Vatican treasures photographed by Eric Vandeville
The Pio-Clementino Museum
"The first set of classical sculpture of the pontifical collections dates back to the" Court of the Statues "(the current Court of the Octagon) of Pope Julius II (1503-1513). In the second half of the eighteenth century, the pontifical collections developed, on the one hand, thanks to the excavations carried out in Rome and Lazio, and, on the other hand, following the purchase from collectors or antique dealers. Under the influence of the Enlightenment philosophy, the collections became a public museum in the modern sense of the term, to protect the works of ancient art and to promote their study and knowledge.Called Pio-Clementino after the name of its founders, Clement XIV Ganganelli (1769-1774) and Pius VI Braschi (1775-1799), the museum included exhibition halls created by adapting the previous buildings and building new ones, both inside and in the vicinity of the Belvedere Palace that Innocent VIII had built in the Renaissance, where ancient carvings were placed, which the restorers of the time often incorporated. The neoclassical architectures were realised under the direction of Alessandro Dori, Michelangelo Simonetti, Giuseppe Camporese, and ornamented by an important team of painters and decorators.
At the signing of the Treaty of Tolentino (1797), the Papal State was obliged to cede to Napoleon's France the principal masterpieces of the Museum, which were taken to Paris. Later, following the Congress of Vienna (1815) and thanks to the diplomatic skill of Antonio Canova, most of the works were recovered."
Rome, Vatican Museums.