Belvedere (bĕlˈvədēr, Ital. bālvādĕˈrā) [key], court of the Vatican named after a villa built (1485–87) for Innocent VIII. The villa was decorated with frescoes by Pinturicchio and others; a chapel painted by Mantegna was demolished when the villa was made part of the Museo Pio-Clementino at the end of the 18th cent. The Belvedere court, connecting the villa and the Vatican, was designed (1503–4) by Bramante for Julius II to include an architectural garden, a permanent theater, a museum building, and a statue court. The Laocoön, discovered in 1506, was placed in the statue court; in 1511 the Apollo Belvedere (see under Apollo, in Greek religion) was installed in a special niche. When Bramante died in 1514, only a portion of the Belvedere was completed; many modifications were made under a succession of architects including Giuliano Sangallo, Raphael, Peruzzi, and Antonio Sangallo. Now a museum, the Belvedere still contains the Laocoön and the Apollo as well as other rare works of classical antiquity.
See study by J. S. Ackerman (1954).
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