Pompeo Batoni

Dates(Lucchese), 1708 - 1787
BornLucca, Italy

Anyone who was anyone who visited Rome simply had to have his or her portrait painted by Pompeo Batoni. His delicate technique, elegant draftsmanship, and ability to tastefully incorporate ancient sculptures and monuments into his pictures dovetailed perfectly with Europe's vogue for the antique. A goldsmith's son, Batoni studied in Rome, basing his style in part on Raphael and on the art of antiquity. From 1735 he received many commissions for altarpieces as well as for mythological and historical pictures. He often took poses from real statues and used ancient literature as subject matter.

Batoni's sensibility was joyful and elegant, mirroring the carefree attitude of eighteenth-century society as a whole. It is said that more than 150 Englishmen alone sat for him. His sitters appreciated his polished precision and the air of informal modernity he created by placing them in semi-natural settings featuring Roman sculptures, architecture, or archaeological finds--often those they themselves had admired or even acquired. He painted three popes and many princes, and his clients included Catherine the Great of Russia. Batoni became curator of the papal collections, and his home was a meeting place for Rome's intellectual and social elite.