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The Galleria dei Candelabri
The Galleria dei Candelabri (Candelabra Gallery) is one of the 11 rooms of the Vatican Museums' Museo Pio-Clementino, and contains some important didactic art as well as the superb candelabra that give the room its name. Pope Pius VI had the gallery created in the late eighteenth century, having the very large Hall of Bramante enclosed on one side, then divided into six cloisters, these divided by Doric arches, set on variously coloured marble columns. The rooms themselves were spectacular enough then, and prove a fitting backdrop to the treasures that reside within the individual 'rooms'. These are the candelabra themselves, extraordinary examples of the skill of ancient Roman sculptors: first in working marble in elaborate tracery, and second in the use of sculpture to describe a narrative. We see a Greek runner, a Persian warrior, Ganymede being carried off by an eagle, a goddess from the ancient city of Antioch. There is, too, a sarcophagus representing, in mezzo-relievo (half relief) the tragedy of Niobe's daughters.
Complementing the sculpted works are paintings commissioned by Pope Leo XIII, who, in the late nineteenth century, had Ludwig Seitz create narrative works in paint. We see St Thomas Aquinas represented as a teacher of Christian philosophy; the dialogue between religion and science; and the workings of Divine grace in the embodiment of various saints (including John Baptist de Rossi, canonised by Leo XIII). We see too the condemnation of Freemasonry (a popular Papal bete noire of course), and Leo himself gets his dues, with a representation of ideas from his Encyclicals.
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