Monday, November 26, 2007

The Great Collection

Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691-1765)
Interior of a Picture Gallery with the Collection of Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga 1740
Wadsworth Atheneum Art Gallery, Hartford, Connecticut

Giovanni Paolo Panini was one of the leading painters of vedute, or topographical views, in Rome during the eighteenth century.

His views of modern Rome, as well as his capricci based on the better-known ruins, had an enormous vogue among Grand Tourists and examples are to be found in most older galleries. Piranesi, though far more of an archaeologist, was influenced by him, and so was Canaletto.

Cardinal Gonzaga (born Mantua 1690, died Viterbo 1756) was a great intellectual and collector, the Secretary of State and close to the Pope, Pope Benedict XIV (Lambertini). His residence (which is now the Villa Paolina) was near Porta Salaria and Porta Pia. The cardinal's picture gallery was portrayed in the painting which accurately reproduces 148 works from the cardinal's collection.

He helped to found and install the Pinacoteca Capitolina, to reopen the Accademia di San Luca, to preserve ancient museums from plundering, and to regulate the exportation of works of art.

He was an honorary member of the Accademia di San Luca and of the Accademia dell'Arcadia. He was the inspiration of an extraordinary cultural movement, encouraging the Popeto conserve and restore the basilicas and the ancient churches.

The greater part of his library is now in the National Central Library in Rome.

In the above painting, the Cardinal stands with the artist in the centre of the composition beside an enlarged copy of Raphael’s Madonna della Sedia).

Pierre Subleyras (Saint Gilles 1699 - Roma 1749)
Benedict XIV and Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga
Oil on canvas, cm 131x178.
Museum of Rome

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