Portrait of Pius VI
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Portrait of Pius VI

Pompeo Batoni
(Lucca 1708 - Rome 1787)
and school
Portrait of Pius VI, 1775
oil on canvas
cm. 137,7 x 98
cat. 40455

The painting, which perhaps has always belonged to the pontifical collections, entered the Picture Gallery in 1932, attributed to Anton Raphael Mengs. This was subsequently altered to the painter from Lucca, Pompeo Batoni. The Tuscan artist, who went to Rome to do his training, remained there definitively working on the most different types of painting, but specializing in portraits, for which he achieved international fame. Important personages of his time wished to be portrayed by him and among these was of course Pius VI (pontiff from 1775 to 1799), who contacted Batoni immediately after his papal election. The Vatican painting which is in a preliminary state is considered to be a study, quite likely from life, for the official portrait of the Pope (now in the Museum of Rome). The pontiff is shown seated on his throne. In his left hand he holds a sheet of paper on which, in the version of the Museum of Rome, is written "To the Holiness of Our Lord Pope Pius VI for P. Batoni Pinxit 1775".