You are near the farthest northern end of the
great palace; its huge buildings and courts extend off to your
right more than five hundred feet between you and St. Peter's.
This beautiful marble hall was constructed four hundred years ago as a
detached building, a sort of summer-house or garden Pavilion separate
from the palace proper: but, in the course of successive
additions and alterations in the buildings, it has now come to be a
part of the main pile. Clement XIV. and Pious VI. established
the sculptures here. Some of these marbles are by very old Greek
masters. some are the work of Italian artists in the days of
Rome's classic splendor. A few are more modern, but almost all
of the statues you see now have been dug out at different times out of
ancient ruins and rubbish-heaps. They are scattered fragments
from the splendid temples and palaces of that old civilization which
flourished here in the days when Jesus Christ taught in Galilee.
To some visitors it is a surprise to see gallery after gallery here in
the Papal palace filled with relics of pagan art, but the Popes have
realized how valuable such works of art may be in preserving old-time
ideals of beauty. Many of the Popes have personally devoted time
and thought to the study of classic art in order to learn what it
contains of abiding value for modern times. The ancient Greeks,
for example, did such absolutely fine, true thinking along mathematical
lines, that the principals they grasped and stated are to this very
day the basis of our own school instruction. They also
understood beauty of proportion and grace of line more completely than
any other people who ever lived, and comparatively few bits of their
sculptures which are left to us to-day can still teach our own artists
and artisans how to make each new piece of hand-work more beautiful.
From Descriptive Bulletin No. 2, copyrighted,
1904, by Underwood & Underwood.
of Statues, the Vatican, Rome.