Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cardinal Lorenzo Pucci

PARMIGIANINO 1503 - 1540
Cardinal Lorenzo Pucci probably 1529-30
Oil on canvas 95.3 x 81.3 cm.
National Gallery, London

The National Gallery in London contains quite a few portraits of Cardinals and ecclesiastics: some known, others perhaps not so.

This painting was probably painted in Bologna in 1529-30. Cardinal Pucci (1458-1531)(identified by the writing in his hand) wears the dark blue 'stola' of the senior ecclesiastical office of Grand Penitentiary. The portrait, believed to be by Raphael in the last century, has recently been recognised as by Parmigianino.

Of a noble and ancient Florentine family, he was a Professor of Law at the University of Pisa. The family claimed to be descended from Jacopo Saracino, a Florentine nobleman. The family were responsible for the Palazzo Pucci in Florence and the Villa Pucci. They were patrons of Botticelli.

He was elected coadjutor bishop of Pistoia, with right of succession, February 15, 1509; and succeeded on September 17, 1518; but resigned in favor of his nephew Antonio, November 5, 1518.

He was Datary of Pope Julius II and Leo X, 1511 to September 1513. Pope Julius II sent him to Florence to obtain assistance against France; he delivered an eloquent oration before the Florentine senate.

He was Penitentiary major, September 28, 1520; and replaced on October 1, 1529 by his nephew, future Cardinal Antonio Pucci. He participated in the conclave of 1521-1522.

He was an adviser to the Pope on the Divorce of Henry VIII to Katherine of Aragon. He was also present when the City of Rome was sacked.

He was accused of misappropriation and peculation. He was reproached for having given opportunity to Martin Luther to carry on against the avarice of the court of Rome, and in particular against indulgences, of which he made a scandalous trade.

This conduct made the cardinal odious and he had to give an account of his administration during the pontificate of Pope Adrian VI.

Cardinal Giulio de' Medici diverted this blow with his credit and when he ascended the papacy under the name of Clement VIl, he restored Cardinal Pucci to his old position.

He participated in the conclave of 1523.

He died on September 16, 1531, Rome and was buried in the patriarchal Vatican basilica. The body was later transferred to the church of S. Maria sopra Minerva, Rome and buried in its choir next to the mausoleum of Pope Leo X.

His family erected a cenotaph in the chapel of S. Sebastiano in the church of Sanctissimæ Anuntiatæ in Florence.

He was a great mecenate of Raffaello Sanzio and Michelangelo Buonarroti.

When Erasmus' edition of the Works of St. Cyprian appeared in 1520, it bore a dedication to Cardinal Lorenzo Pucci. This influential churchman was closely associated with PopeLeo X. Two years earlier he had procured from the Pope a brief for Erasmus' revised New Testament . In the dedicatory epistle to his edition of Cyprian Erasmus took the opportunity to speak of the close connection between Cardinal and Pope.