Wooden Door with the Coat of Arms of Pope Urban VIII Barberini

Inventory Number: 51510

FOTO DIGITALE

 

This notched door opens into the Room of Constantine from the north side, providing access to the Stanzino of Urban VIII, a small room bordering the Room of Charlemagne in the Apartment of Julius III.  From the Stanzino, a second door opens onto the external walkway that connects the Room of the Fire in the Borgo with the Room of Constantine.

The Stanzino was renovated in 1632 at the behest of Pope Urban VIII Barberinii (1623-1644), who used it as his private room during papal audiences, which he held in the surrounding rooms.

In memory of his patronage, a decorative inscription in polychrome stucco was applied at the summit of the wall—two coats of arms with the Barberini symbol of three heraldic bees, topped by the papal tiara and keys, are joined by an inscription, divided in four parts, which reads: PRIVATAE PONTIFICVM COMMODITATI / URBANVS VIII PONT.MAX / ANNO SALUTATIS MDCXXXII / PONTIFICATVS DECIMO.

At this time, Pope Urban also commissioned the beautiful notched door. The wooden portal consists of a single door made from walnut, divided into six panels that are exclusively decorated on the interior side, facing the Room of Constantine.

Each of the two highest square panels feature the Barberini crest – a shield with bees – framed by a geometric decoration of ribbons and scrolls, carefully done using the technique of tracery. The two small horizontal panels in the center are adorned by leafy masks with laurel branches—another Barberini symbol—coming out of their mouths. The two lower mirrored panels remain undecorated.

The door of the Room of Constantine was crafted by an unknown master carver who, instead of signing his own name, followed the Vatican Palace’s custom of inscribing the name and insignia of the Papal Patron into his work.  Thus, this valuable piece of sculptural and carved workmanship celebrates Pope Urban VIII, featuring the distinctly Barberini heraldic bees and laurel branches to symbolize and materialize his glory.  This piece is expected to be returned on display in the Raphael Rooms, where they are housed today.