Monday, May 26, 2008

Batoni: The Artist of the Sacred Heart

Chapel of the Sacred Heart, Church of the Gesu, Rome with the Oil on copper painting of the Sacred Heart painting of the Sacred Heart (1767) by Battoni and Domenico Maria Saverio Calvi

Just finished at The National Gallery in London (18th May 2008) is an exhibition of the paintings of Pompeo Batoni (1708-1787), "Italy`s Last Old Master". See here.

In his day Pompeo Batoni was the most celebrated painter in Rome and one of the most famous in Europe.

But only two years after his death in 1787, Sir Joshua Reynolds predicted that Batoni's name would quickly fall into oblivion - and he was absolutely right.

Throughout the 19th and for most of the 20th centuries few artists were more completely forgotten - or, if remembered, more thoroughly despised.

Amongst his many achievements was to provide a series of paintings that could be used as a model for religious art.

His representations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were perhaps essential in the popularisation and spread of the devotion.

One of the best-known representations of the Sacred Heart is the small painting, designed in 1767 by Pompeo Batoni and the Jesuit Domenico Maria Saverio Calvi for Rome's Church of the Gesu. It is of course well known from reproductions in many Catholic homes

In the 1780s the Portuguese queen also commissioned Pompeo Batoni to produce seven large altar pieces of the Sacred Heart for Lisbon's new Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Estrela)