The beautiful fresco of Sixtus IV Founding the Vatican Library was painted by Melozzo degli Ambrozzi (1438-94), better known as Melozzo da Forli, in 1477.
The Vatican library had actually been founded by Pope Nicolas V (r. 1447-55), but the project was brought to fruition by Pope Sixtus IV (r. 1471-84). The fresco, which once adorned the entrance hall of the library, depicts the pope in the company of members of his family and the library's first head, Bartolomeo Sacchi, also known as Il Platina.
The librarian kneels in front of the pope and points to the inscription below, which lauds Sixtus IV as a builder of ‘temples, roads, squares, walls, bridges” and for reviving the library itself, which had formerly “languished in neglect.”
The two tonsured figures are Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, the future Pope Julius II (r. 1503-13), and Raffaello Riario, while the two men standing on the left are Girolamo Riario and Giovanni della Rovere.