Cappella del Palazzo Rospigliosi is a late 19th century confraternity chapel added to a late 16th century palazzo with the postal address of Via Liberiana 21. This is in the rione Monti.
The palazzo containing the chapel is often known as the Palazzo Ciampini Rospigliosi Imperiali after its former owning families, in order to distinguish it from the more famous Palazzo Pallavicini Rospigliosi. It was erected towards the end of the 16th century, when the city was finally in the process of spreading out over the countryside within its ancient walls (a process that was to continue for three hundred years).
From 1769, the palazzo was home to a missionary college of priests, the Collegio dei Sacerdoti Missionari "Maria Santissima delle Grazie". A major home outreach, involving catechesis especially of children for First Communion, was the Istituto degli Esercizi Spirituali which was founded by Cardinal Vitaliano Borromeo in the following year. (Hence it was often called the Istituto Borromeo).
Towards the end of the 19th century, the premises were expanded -the garden was sacrificed in the progress, to create a new range on the Via Paolina. The architect was Aristide Leonori, and the work was completed in 1900. It involved a new chapel. The old palazzo would have had one of its rooms fitted out as a private chapel (all Roman palazzi did), but the new one here was an architecturally distinct edifice.
The Istituto moved out towards the end of the 20th century, and the palazzo underwent a major refit to turn it into an hotel. This is the Hotel Antico Palazzo Rospigliosi, which was opened in 2004. The chapel has been kept, although apparently Mass is only celebrated by guest priests who wish to do so.
The chapel occupies the second storey of the late 19th century range on the Via Paolina -this is ugly, and the contrast with the old side frontage of the palazzo to the right on the same street is stark. The nave shelters under a pitched and tiled roof of its own, with the sanctuary having a lower single transverse pitch. There is a very small five-sided apse with its own tiled roof pitched in sectors, which is on the street side. This protrudes above the street frontage, but is invisible from the ground.
The little chapel has a basilical plan, with narrow side aisles. There are two nave bays, a distinct sanctuary bay and a little semi-circular apse.
Each is separated from the central nave by an arcade of two arches supported on four Tuscan Doric columns, one at each end and a pair in between the two arches. These columns look as if they are in yellow Siena marble, but are fake -the paint is peeling. They support entablature fragments with strongly projecting cornices, and the arch archivolts spring from these. The latter are molded, in five nested orders of differing widths. Each pair of archivolts is separated by a trapezoidal panel containing stucco decoration in the form of a bouquet, gold on white.
The ceiling rests on an ornate entablature which runs around the interior. This has no architrave, an entablature featuring grotesque white stucco decoration on a gilded background, including winged putto's heads, and a projecting cornice with fancy moldings. The barrel vault has square coffers with rosettes, white on yellow, and long transverse coffers with a feathery stucco decoration.
The entablature rests on Composite pilasters also painted yellow, two of which flank the triumphal arch of the sanctuary apse, two are at the beginning of the sanctuary bay, two flank the entrance and four are folded into the corners (the last are very thin). The entablature is slightly posted out over these.
The triumphal arch archivolt has several orders of ornate molding, partly gilded. Over it is a Baroque tablet reading Ave Gratia Plena, accompanied by white stucco swags and vine-scrolls. The arch is flanked by a pair of sacristy doors, over each of which is a panel containing a large circular gilded bas-relief tondo of an allegorical female Virtue.
The short sanctuary bay has a rectangular portal in each side, leading into the ends of the aisles. Each of these has a short entablature on top, in the same style as the arcades, and this is supported by a pair of Doric pilasters. Above is a rectangular panel in the same style as the trapezoidal panels in between the arcade archivolts.
The polychrome marble Baroque-style altar is in its original location, in the apse (not brought forward). The altarpiece is an enormous gilded Baroque glory containing an icon of the Madonna and Child. The curved wall of the apse behind this is painted to resemble curtain hangings. The conch contains more delicate white stucco decoration, around three vertical oval panels containing frescoes of angels, and the Dove of the Holy Spirit is depicted at the top.