Room XIX. Lower Hemicycle. Collection of vases, Attic ceramics

The wall decoration in tempera (1780), attributed to Bernardino Nocchi, illustrates the works carried out during the papacy of Pius VI (Giovanni Angelo Braschi, 1775-1799). In the upper panels, it is possible to recognise sectors of the Vatican Museums that had recently been added, such as the Simonetti Staircase with the Greek Cross Room, the Profane Museum and the Prints Room of the Vatican Library; on the lower walls there is the recovery of the Pontine Marshes and the construction of the new Sacresty of St. Peter’s in the Vatican. In the central niche, there is a bust of Gregory XVI (Bartholomew Alberto Cappellari, 1831-1846), founded of the Gregorian Etruscan Museum, the work of Giuseppe De Fabris (1790-1860).
The room is dedicated to Attic ceramics from 560 to 460 B.C., by the great masters of black-figure pottery such as Amasis and Exekias, to the painters of cups in the severe red-figure style, such as Makron, Brygos, Douris and pupils.
In the centre there is a masterpiece of ancient painting, dating from 540-530 B.C.: an amphora by Exekias with Achilles and Ajax playing dice, which expresses all the suspense and drama in the apparent calm of the anecdote (cabinet F).
These valuable goods, produced by potters and painters from Athens, reached the Etruscans by trade routes. They were prized not only for their quality and functional use, but also for the myths, subjects and messages transmitted in the painted images.