Thursday, September 13, 2012

Batoni, Pompeo

Allegory of Peace and War
oil on canvas
136 x 99 cm
Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, USA

Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (1708 – 1787) was an Italian painter, born in Lucca, son of a goldsmith. His style incorporated elements of the French Rococo, Bolognese classicism, and nascent Neoclassicism. He was regarded in his maturity as Rome’s greatest living painter, perhaps even the most famous in Europe. He gained such stature through numerous grand portraits and prestigious commissions for religious and historical subjects from popes, emperors, and kings.

Batoni carried out prestigious church commissions and painted numerous fine mythological canvases, many for eminent foreign patrons, but he is famous above all as a portraitist. He adopted his style from the works of Raphael, academic French painting, and was the highly-fashionable and greatest artist of eighteenth-century Rome. His portrait style was elegant and polished, often incorporating background scenes filled with Roman sculpture or architecture. His characterization is not profound, but it is usually vivid, and he presented his sitters with dignity. He was a curator of the papal collections and his house was a social, intellectual, and artistic center.