Vittoria Brunetti

Fresh Evidence Sheds New Light on Carlo Barberini's Patronage of Painter Carlo Maratti

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Traditionally thought to have been commissioned by the sitter himself (as implied in Giovan Pietro Bellori's biography of Carlo Maratti) the portrait of Antonio Barberini, currently kept at the National Gallery of Ancient Art in Rome, might in fact have been commissioned by Antonio's nephew, Cardinal Carlo Barberini (1630-1704), after Antonio's death. This is suggested by Cardinal Carlo's account books as cross-checked with the inventories of property from the Barberini residences. What's more, this new documentary evidence rehabilitates the Cardinal's reputation as a commissioner of works of art. Carlo's accounts actually confirm the enduring patronage relationship between the cardinal and the painter during the 1680s, as well as the artist's pivotal role in the diplomatic relations Carlo Barberini had established with the court of King John III of Poland, as witnessed by the correspondence exchanged between these two political figures.

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