List of Artworks

Research Notes: Part 2, no. 29, Folio 10 verso

Possibly Identified
Diego Velazquez, Portrait of Cardinal Camillo Astalli Pamphilj (ca. 1650)
Fig. II, 29, a
Diego Velázquez (Spanish, 1599–1660)
Title: Portrait of Cardinal Camillo Astalli Pamphilj
Date: ca. 1650
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 61 x 48.5 cm (24 x 19 1/8 in.)
Current location: New York, Hispanic Society of America
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Probably from the estate of Camillo Astalli Pamphilj (Fernández-Santos Ortiz-Iribas, 2008); Urbano III Mellini (postmortem inventory, 1667); Pietro and Savo Mellini (1680 inventory, 1681 poem); probably in the Royal Palace of Naples by 1808, where it is described as “56. Quadro alto palmi 25/12 largo 2. Ritratto de un Cardinal con baffi, e beretta in testa. Velázquez” (“56. A painting 25 palms high / 12 wide. Portrait of a Cardinal with a mustache, with a biretta on his head. Velázquez.”);1 private collection, Rome (until 1899); Trotti & Co., Paris, Francis Lanthrop, New York (1902); The Hispanic Society of America, New York (since 1908).

The description of the painting in the 1680 and 1681 Mellini documents corresponds to the portrait currently at the Hispanic Society of America in New York City, as argued by Jorge Fernández-Santos Ortiz-Iribas in his 2008 article (fig. II, 29, a).2 Caterina Pinelli, whose second husband was Urbano Mellini III, had previously been married to Fulvio Astalli, with whom she had a son, Camillo Astalli, who later became related to the powerful Pamphilj family through the marriage of one of his brothers, Tiberio. Fernández-Santos Ortiz-Iribas posits that Camillo Astalli Pamphilj could have given the picture as a gift to his stepfather, Urbano III, from whom it would have passed to Urbano’s heirs, Pietro and Savo Mellini.3 Although, as Fernández-Santos Ortiz-Iribas points out, the measurements in the 1680 inventory and the painting at the Hispanic Society do not coincide, it is obvious that the canvas was cropped at some point after it was painted.

This is another painting for which the trail goes cold after it was mentioned in the 1681 poem. It does not appear in any of the subsequent Mellini inventories. There are several portraits of cardinals listed in the inventories that were compiled by order of Mario Mellini IV between 1732 and 1742, but none of the descriptions coincides with the painting at the Hispanic Society (fig. II, 29, a). Only one description could approximate the current painting: “Altro di 3 p[al]mi p[er] alto rapp[resentan]te mezza figura d’un cardi[na]le in rocchetto e mozzetta con cor[ni]ce antica dorata” (“Another picture 3 palms high, depicting in half figure a cardinal in a rochet [a white ecclesiastical vestment, similar to a surplice] and a prelate’s mantle, in an antique gilded frame”).4 The rochet does not appear in the current painting, possibly as a result of the cropping (see fig. II, 29, a). The frame is also different, although this is not surprising, since it is mentioned expressly in his inventories that Mario Mellini changed a large number of the picture frames in his collection.

In a biography of Diego Velázquez in his Museo pictórico laureado of 1724, the Spanish painter and writer Antonio Palomino states that during Velázquez’s time in Rome, the artist painted a portrait of Cardinal Pamphilj.5 This painting was part of an ensemble of portraits that Velázquez executed of various prominent Romans during his second stay in Italy, probably during the summer of 1650. There is listed in the Roman inventory of Gaspar de Haro y Guzmán of 1682 (recorded in the Getty Provenance Index) an “oval” portrait of Camillo Astalli by Velázquez, which Fernando Checa Cremades presumes was a copy of this painting.6

In the 1680 inventory, the sitter is specified as Cardinal Astalli, whereas in the 1681 poem he is described simply as a man in the garb of a cardinal.


  • 1. This quote can be found in Archivo del Palacio Real, Madrid, Nota de’ quadri esistenti nel Real Palazzo di Napoli, 1808, according to a reference by José López Rey in Velázquez: The Artist as a Maker, with a Catalogue Raisonné of His Extant Works (Lausanne: Bibliothéque des Arts, 1979), 482.
  • 2. Jorge Fernández-Santos Ortiz-Iribas, “The Inventory of Pietro Mellini’s Collection at the Palazzo del Rosario in 1680,” Burlington Magazine 150, no. 1265 (August 2008): 512–20.
  • 3. Fernández-Santos Ortiz-Iribas, “The Inventory of Pietro Mellini’s Collection,” 512–20.
  • 4. Archivio Serlupi Crescenzi, Rome, Inventario dei mobili di Mon Mario Mellini, vol. 84, 1738, fol. 41.
  • 5. Palomino de Castro y Velasco, Antonio, El Parnaso español pintoresco laureado (Madrid: Por la viuda de J. García Infancon, 1724).
  • 6. Fernando Checa Cremades, Velázquez: The Complete Paintings (Antwerp: Ludion, 2008), 187.


Ortiz-Iribas, Jorge Fernández-Santos. “The Inventory of Pietro Mellini’s Collection at the Palazzo del Rosario in 1680.” Burlington Magazine 150, no. 1265 (August 2008): 512–20.