The rooms making up the apartment on the first floor of the Palazzo, were used by the Conservators, or magistrates, for activities connected to their office; they therefore form a single entity, both as regards their function and their ornamental features. The rooms were also used for Public and Private Council meetings.
The rich decoration of these reception rooms (frescoes, stuccoes, carved ceilings and doors, tapestries) has as its main theme the history of Ancient Rome, from its foundation to the Republican Age.
The earliest cycle of frescoes goes back to the beginning of the XVI century.
The main floor of the Palace houses the Ceremonial Rooms of the Conservators, also known as the Apartment.
They are the oldest part of the Palace: some rooms preserve parts of the series of frescoes painted at the beginning of the XVI century, whereas the decorations of the other rooms were renewed after Michelangelo’s renovation.
The whole decoration of the Apartment, though it was painted separately and subsequently, present a uniform appearance dedicated to the extolling and memory of the virtues and value of the Ancients.
Some ancient bronze sculptures were also installed in these rooms: they were presented by Pope Sixtus IV to the Roman people due to their symbolic value, in memory of the greatness of Rome which the papal government intended to renew.
The donation of the Sistine bronzes is considered to be the foundation of Capitoline Museums, since then several works of art, sculpture and paintings of value, were collected in the Capitol.
Hall of the Geese
Conservators' Apartment - Hall of the Geese
The room's pictorial decorations date back to the mid-XVI century, during the papacy of Alexander III Farnese.
The frieze consists of small panels, with playful scenes set against a background of real or imaginary landscapes, alternating with military trophies and floral and fruit triumphs.
The two bronze geese that give the room its name were placed here in the XVIII century, together with a bronze vase in the shape of a bust of Isis and a head of Medusa by Bernini.
Since the Eighteenth century, two Roman bronze ducks are displayed in this room: they are traditionally interpreted as geese, in memory of the legendary Capitoline geese who saved Rome, during the night, from the attacking Gauls.
The remarkable fresco decoration of the hall, as well as the beautiful wooden ceiling, date back to the time of Pope Paul III (1534-1549), when three of the halls (the Hall of the Geese, the Hall of the Eagles and the Hall of the Tapestries) of the Palazzo were completed. In the painted frieze one can see trophies of arms, flowers and fruits, and decoration of grotesque carvings followed by scenes of ancient games played in real or fantastic Roman landscapes. It is worthy of praise the panel that reproduces the image of the Capitoline's Piazza Campidoglio, before Michelangelo’s work, with the church of Ara Coeli on the background.
The recent restoration of the wooden ceiling has brought to light the old “the colour of air” background against which stand out golden rosettes of various types, with vases and shields. During the Eighteenth century, some decorations in gilded stucco were added to the room, framing different elements such as sculptures, paintings, inscriptions.
In the same period a sculpture of great value was also placed here: the Head of Medusa by the sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680). The work very effectively portrays the mythical figure of the Medusa, whose petrifying gaze and snake hair are rendered by the sculptor with grace and power.