Pope Clement VII

Object Details

Title:

Pope Clement VII

Artist/Maker:

Sebastiano del Piombo (Italian, about 1485 - 1547)

Culture:

Italian

Place:

Italy (Place created)

Date:

about 1531

Medium:

Oil on slate

Object Number:

92.PC.25

Dimensions:

105.4 × 87.6 cm (41 1/2 × 34 1/2 in.)

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Following a model established for papal portraits by Raphael two decades earlier, Sebastiano del Piombo painted Pope Clement VII (Giulio de'Medici, reigned 1523–1534) in three-quarter length and seated in an armchair, positioned diagonally to the picture plane.

In a letter dated July 22, 1531, Sebastiano told his friend and mentor Michelangelo that Pope Clement had visited his studio to see his recently completed portrait, which was painted on canvas. Satisfied with Sebastiano’s work, the pope ordered this second version for his collection, to be painted on slate. The practice of painting on slate or stone is generally thought to have begun in Rome in the early 1500s. Sebastiano had begun experimenting with stone supports around 1530, and had come to favor it for certain important commissions because he believed that paintings on stone lasted longer than those on canvas or wood. His biographer Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574), in his Lives of 1550, asserted that “pictures painted on slate last much longer than any other material.” Pope Clement evidently shared Sebastiano's enthusiasm for the support, which served to immortalize his portrait. Ironically, the stable, durable paint surface and lasting colors that could be achieved on slate were negated by the stone’s inherent fragility—especially during movement. Documents from later in the 1530s demonstrate the challenges Sebastiano faced when transporting a Pietà on slate to the Spanish patron Francesco de los Cobos, which had to be accompanied throughout its journey for fear of shattering.

Provenance
about 1531 -

Pope Clement VII, Italian, 1478 - 1534 (Rome, Italy), probably commissioned from the artist, 1531.

by 1851

Robert Henry Herbert, twellfth earl of Pembroke, ninth earl of Montgomery, English, 1791 - 1862 (Wilton House, Wiltshire, England) [unsold, Pembroke sale, Christie's, London, May 6, 1851, lot 181.]

- 1861

Philip Lytcott Hinds, about 1792 - between 1871 and 1881 [sold, Christie's, London, June 1, 1861, lot 69, to John Tayleure.]

1861

John Tayleure, about 1782 - 1861

- 1987

Private Collection [sold, Sotheby's, Chester, June 11 1987, lot 4182, to Philip Parker.]

1987

Philip Parker [sold, Christie's, London, December 11, 1987, lot 163, to Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd.]

1987 - 1992

Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1992.

Bibliography

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Christie's, London. Important Old Master Pictures. December 11, 1987, pp. 222-23, lot 163, ill.

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The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 102, ill.

Collomb, Anne-Laure. "La Peinture sur pierre en Italie, 1530-1630." Ph.D. diss. (Université Lumière-Lyon 2, 2006), pp. 17, 62-63, 250, 417, 462, 555n24, 591n500, fig. 56.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 98, ill.

Strinati, Claudio, and Bernd Wolfgang Lindemann, eds. Sebastiano del Piombo, 1485-1547, exh. cat. (Rome: Palazzo di Venezia, with Federico Motta Editore, 2008), p. 246, under no. 64, entry by Roberto Contini.

Vahland, Kia. Sebastiano del Piombo: A Venetian in Rome (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2008), p. 63.

Pierguidi, Stefano. "Le 'Portrait de Clément VII' par Sebastiano del Piombo du J. Paul Getty Museum." Revue de l'art, no. 160 (2008), pp. 55-59, fig. 3.

Rebecchini, Guido. Un altro Lorenzo: Ippolito de' Medici tra Firenze e Roma (1511-1535) (Venice: Marsilio, 2010), p. 264, fig. 2.

Daverio, Philippe. Il museo immaginato (Milan: Rizzoli, 2011), pp. 254, 259, 264, ill.

Baker-Bates, Piers. "Sebastianello Nostro Venetiano: The Career of Sebastiano del Piombo and the Concept of a 'Court Artist' in Renaissance Rome." The Court Historian: International Journal of Court Studies 16 (June 2011), p. 9, ill.

Blanc, Jan, ed. Paroles d'artistes: De la Renaissance à Sophie Calle (Paris: Citadelles & Mazenod, 2012), p. 60, ill.

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