The Room with Zodiac Signs

The Zodiac Room can be found among the Savoyard rooms. With this room, the palace's east wing, which overlooks its gardens, is entered.

By Quirinale Palace

The name of the room derives from the decoration, inspired by an astrological theme. Painted signs of the zodiac follow one another in sequence around the ribs of the vaulted ceiling: each zodiac sign is depicted by a detail that characterizes it, making it recognizable, and is contained within a golden circle with a starry sky as its background.

Aries zodiac sign - Detail of the vault, Annibale Brugnoli, 1888, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Taurus, zodiac sign - Detail of the vault, Annibale Brugnoli, 1888, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Gemini, zodiac sign - Detail of the vault, Annibale Brugnoli, 1888, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Zodiac sign of Cancer - Detail of the vault, Annibale Brugnoli, 1888, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Leo, zodiac sign - Detail of the vault, Annibale Brugnoli, 1888, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Virgo, zodiac sign - Detail of the vault, Annibale Brugnoli, 1888, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Libra, zodiac sign - Detail of the vault, Annibale Brugnoli, 1888, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Scorpio, zodiac sign - Detail of the vault, Annibale Brugnoli, 1888, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Sagittarius, zodiac sign - Detail of the vault, Annibale Brugnoli, 1888, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Capricorn, zodiac sign - Detail of the vault, Annibale Brugnoli, 1888, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Aquarius zodiac sign - Detail of the vault, Annibale Brugnoli, 1888, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Pisces, zodiac sign - Detail of the vault, Annibale Brugnoli, 1888, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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The sequence of zodiac signs is interrupted in the middle of the long sides of the vaulted ceiling by paintings of the Sun and the Moon, to indicate their apparent path through the zodiac, combined with scenes within lunettes inspired by music and repose, and flanked by glittering chinaware displayed on spandrels.

The sun, Annibale Brugnoli, 1888, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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The moon, Annibale Brugnoli, 1888, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Brustolon Chair (Early 18th century) by Andrea BrustolonQuirinale Palace

The zodiac theme is also found within the furnishings. Placed up against the walls are Andrea Brustolon's twelve chairs, carved from fine boxwood at the beginning of the 18th century. 

Each of these represents a sign of the zodiac, and the natural attributes of each month of the year.

Aries - Detail of Brustolon Chair, Andrea Brustolon, Early 18th century, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Taurus - Detail of the Brustolon Chair, Andrea Brustolon, Early 18th century, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Gemini - Detail of Brustolon Chair, Andrea Brustolon, Beginning of the 18th century, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Cancer - Detail of the Brustolon Chair, Andrea Brustolon, Early 18th century, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Leo - Detail of the Brustolon Chair, Andrea Brustolon, Early 18th century, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Virgo - Detail of Brustolon Chair, Andrea Brustolon, Early 18th century, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Libra - Detail of the Brustolon Chair, Andrea Brustolon, Early 18th century, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Scorpio - Detail of Brustolon Chair, Andrea Brustolon, Early 18th century, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Sagittarius - Detail of the Brustolon Chair, Andrea Brustolon, Early 18th century, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Capricorn - Detail of Brustolon Chair, Andrea Brustolon, Early 18th century, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Aquarius - Detail of Brustolon Chair, Andrea Brustolon, Early 18th century, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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Pisces - Detail of the Brustolon Chair, Andrea Brustolon, Beginning of the 18th century, From the collection of: Quirinale Palace
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View of the Hall of the ZodiacQuirinale Palace

The history of the room

In the Napoleonic setting, the Zodiac Room formed a part of Napoleon's reception rooms, like the Hall of the Emperor or the Hall of Ministers. 

The Napoleonic iconographic program celebrated imperial dignity.

Triumph of Julius Caesar - Detail of the neoclassical frieze (1812/1813) by Carlo FinelliQuirinale Palace

Today, however, out of all the decoration, only the fine stucco bas-relief frieze by Carlo Finelli is preserved, depicting the long procession of the Triumph of Julius Caesar, and dating from 1812–1813.

Triumph of Julius Caesar - Detail of the neoclassical frieze (1812/1813) by Carlo FinelliQuirinale Palace

The frieze unfolds on the walls with carts filled with trophies, groups of horsemen and soldiers, oxen, and elephants, and concludes with a sacrificial rite on the Capitoline Hill.

Set up for public audiences and secret consistories during the papal restoration, the room achieved its definitive arrangement under Savoy, within the framework of the transformation of the Quirinal into a royal palace for the rulers of a unified Italy. 

Between 1883 and 1888, it was used as a dining-room and took on its current appearance.

View of the ceiling decoration in the Hall of the Zodiac (1888) by Annibale BrugnoliQuirinale Palace

The dawn

In the middle of the Annibale Brugnoli vaulted ceiling, constructed in 1888, there is a flaming allegory of Aurora, contrasting with the austere atmosphere of the former pontifical palace.

The layout of the work confirms Brugnoli's ability to operate over a large pictorial surface while balancing the composition.

The Morning Star - Side panel of the Aurora on the vault of the Hall of the Zodiac (1888) by Annibale BrugnoliQuirinale Palace

A sunrise theme is introduced into the panel on the left by the luminous figure of the morning star, which alludes to daybreak.

The Aurora - central panel on the vault of the Hall of the Zodiac (1888) by Annibale BrugnoliQuirinale Palace

It culminates in the central canvas, where female figures hold garlands of flowers and move joyfully in flight around the personification of Aurora, who is draped in very long, brightly colored cloth. The sky is spanned by a rainbow.

Detail of the Aurora - Side panel on the vault of the Hall of the Zodiac (1888) by Annibale BrugnoliQuirinale Palace

The rainbow completes its crossing on the third panel, which is almost entirely covered with clouds.

Meissen Swan Candelabra (1750)Quirinale Palace

The fine Meissen porcelain

Among the furnishings present within the room, there are also two console tables, which were reassembled during the last century with older materials.

A valuable candlestick from the mid-eighteenth century, originating from the Colorno Royal Palace, is positioned on one of these.

The candlestick is made of Meissen porcelain, gilt bronze, and tin. 

It shows the movement of a swan over the waters of a reed-bed: the swan is porcelain; the base and candelabra arms, characterised by volutes and rocailles decorations, are in gilt bronze; the lakeside reeds are tin.

View of the Hall of the Zodiac with the Brustolon armchairs and the Camel tapestryQuirinale Palace

The exoticism of the tapestries

The installation on the walls of mirrors and frames dates from the Savoyard renovation, the latter being for the tapestries within the exquisite The New Indies series, which illustrate the tropical environment of the New World with details of plants and animals of extraordinary realism. 

Find out more about The New Indies series of tapestries!

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