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 Hannibal
Conservators' Apartment - Hall of Hannibal
Of all the rooms in the fifteenth-century Palazzo dei Conservatori, this is the only room that has maintained its original proportions.
The frescoed decoration dating back to the first decade of the XVI century and traditionally attributed to Jacopo Ripanda celebrates episodes of the Punic Wars in four scenes; underneath runs a long frieze with niches containing busts of Roman generals.
he wooden ceiling, carried out a short time after the frescoed decoration, bears a carved image of the Capitoline She-Wolf at its centre.
The hall, dedicated to some episodes of the wars Rome fought against Carthage, takes its name from the image of Hannibal on the central wall, a partly naïve and partly fantastic representation.
The frescoes on the walls, usually attributed to Jacopo Ripanda (a Bolognese painter documented between 1485 and 1516), represent the most comprehensive evidence of the first decorative cycle of the building, made in the first decade of 1500.
The historical scenes are framed by angular pillars with grotesque candelabra on a golden background, below there is a frieze with busts of Roman generals and a grotesque decoration which shows some blank spaces due to the insertion of inscriptions, subsequently removed.
The influence of ancient art on the painters who worked to this series of frescoes is peculiar, as you can see in the scene of the naval battle which reproduces figurative patterns of Trajan’s Column, or in the elegant drawing of the grotesques in the decoration.
In the middle of the wooden ceiling, the oldest one in the Palazzo, made between 1516 and 1519, the She-wolf suckling the twins appears for the first time, used as a decorative element and as a symbolic reference to the foundation of the city.