Situated at the southern end of the Apostolic Library, between the Chapel of St. Peter Martyr and the Room of the Papyri, is the Room of the Tributes. This room owes its name to the fact that in the past the "tributes", such as official declarations of respect, award ceremonies and presentations, in homage to Pope Leo XIII and Saint Pius X by the faithful and by dioceses throughout the world were placed here. The vault, lunettes and frieze were decorated in 1818, during the pontificate of Pope Pius VII Chiaramonti, by Filippo Agricola (Rome 1795-1857), a Roman artist who, together with Andrea Giorgini, frescoed the lunette depicting La fondazione del Museo. Both painters are important representatives of Academic Painting and of the late Roman Neoclassicism in vogue in many public commissions.
The ceiling decoration, created by applying tempera paint directly to the wall, instead of using the fresco technique, is divided into sections, by gilded wooden frames, depicting garlands of dancing putti on a light blue background as well as the symbol of the Pontifical keys. The coat of arms of the Chiaramonti family is placed in the central panel, surrounded by false relief depicting the Vittorie Alate (winged victory) and the Virtù (vitues). Depicted in the lunettes are the figures of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, seated on marble thrones, flanked by putti holding scrolls. The frieze situated under the cornice, which covers the entire perimeter of the Room, indicates the margin of the decoration and reflects chromatically the magnificent festoons of fruit depicted in the vault.
The cabinets on either side, designed by Raffaele Stern for the library of Cardinal Zeleda - acquired by Pius VII upon the death of the cardinal - have been used, since 1837, to exhibit the so-called "primitives" (examples of painting on wood by fourteenth century and early fifteenth century artists) which were merged later into the Vatican Pinacoteca collection (1909). During the forties of the last century, the collection of decorative arts, belonging to the Vatican Library were transferred under the responsibility of the Vatican Museums in 1999, where they found there place among the objects on display.
The restoration, financed by the "Patrons of the Arts", began at the beginning of 2010 under the direction of Micol Forti, Curator of the Section dedicated to XIX-XX Century Art.
The work was carried out by the restorers Bruno Mattei and Marco Pratelli, from the Painting and Wood Materials Restoration Laboratory, combined with the scientific expertise of the Diagnostics Laboratory for the Preservation and Restoration of Works of Art. Before starting the restoration, a thorough investigation was carried out, so as to establish the type of intervention to be used. Since the technique used for the decorations was that of "tempera applied to wall", and not the fresco technique, it was necessary to identify the correct material needed to repair the scaling caused by incorrect preparation and by the microclimate.
The entire restoration project foresees the restoration and transformation of the nineteenth century cabinets situated under the vault. Therefore, within the coming months, the interior display of the cabinets will be modified. At the moment, in Summer 2010, the first half of the room has been completed and reopened to the public. By December 2010 the restoration should be terminated and the entire area equipped with a new illumination system.