In 1996 one of the most exciting finds of the late twentieth century was made when a series of medieval frescoes was discovered in a vast, vaulted hall in the Torre Maggiore, part of the monastic complex of the church of Santi Quattro Coronati. The frescoes, which were executed (artist/s unknown) around 1250, turned out to be the most important cycle of medieval secular paintings to have survived in Rome.
Santi Quattro Coronati was, in the 13th century, a monastery, a castle, a palace and a centre for the administration of justice. At the time the frescoes were painted, it was controlled by Stefano Conti, one of the highest-ranking cardinals in the Papal Curia.
The Aula Gotica (Gothic Hall), where the frescoes were discovered, was built in the 12th/13th century and served as a place where justice could be administered and banquets/receptions held.
The walls of the Aula Gotica would once have been completely covered in frescoes, of which roughly half survive. They illustrate subjects such as the seasons, the zodiac, the labours of the months, and the vices and the virtues.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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