National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Bulletin 14, 1969

Annual Index
Author & Subject

Andrea Sacchi's "Portrait of a Cardinal"

by Ann Sutherland Harris

1  |  2  


1 Herman Voss, Die Malerei des Barock in Rom, Berlin, 1924, p. 532.

2 Robert Enggass, The Painting of Baciccio, University Park, Pennsylvania, 1964, p. 164.

3 See The National Gallery of Canada Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture, Volume I: Older Schools, ed. by R. H. Hubbard, Ottawa, 1961, p. 21, for a convenient summary of the previous literature. Other attributions include Caravaggio, Bernardo Strozzi and G. B. Gaulli (Baciccio).

4 Ibid.

5 Most of Sacchi's paintings and frescoes are still in the Roman churches and palaces for which they were made. The only museum outside Italy that has more than one painting by him is the Prado (see Hans Posse, Der Romische Maler Andrea Sacchi, Leipzig, 1925, and the same author's good, short account in Thieme-Becker, sub voce. A summary of most later research will be found in A. S. Harris and Eckhard Schaar, Die Handzeichnungen von Andrea Sacchi und Carlo Maratta, Düsseldorf, 1964, pp. 17-69}.

6 Giori was made a Cardinal in that year. As a Barberini protégé, his career was severely hampered by the fall of the Barberini after the death of Urbau VIII in 1644. As Papal treasurer, Giori made payments to Sacchi for various commissions in the early 1640s (Oscar Pollak, Die Kunsttiitigkeit unter Urban VIII, Vienna, 1928-31, vol. I, p. 142); for other contacts between Giori and Sacchi, see B. Feliciaugeli, II Cardinale Angelo Giori da Camerino e Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Sanseverino-Marche, 1917, p. 12, and passim. Sacchi's portrait of Giori is known only from a photograph taken when it appeared in a sale in 1906; its present location is not known (see Voss, p. 532 and Possein Thieme-Becker, p. 290).

7 Although it is true that the compositions of cardinals' portraits vary little, in this case the resemblance is very close indeed. Sacchi clearly copied the earlier work, changing only the head, hands and physical proportions of the sitter, Giori being a smaller, thinner man than the Ottawa cardinal.

8 See note 18 below.

9 For this commission, see Ann Sutherland Harris, " Andrea Sacchi and Emilio Savonanzi at the Collegio Romano," Burlington Magazine, vol. cx, 1968, pp. 249-57. Both sketches are discussed in Masters of the Loaded Brush-Oil Sketches From Rubens to Tiepolo, an exhibition organized by the Department of Art History and Archeology, Columbia University, New York, and held at Knoedlers, New York, in May 1967 (see cat. no. 6). The sketch illustrated here is in the Brian Sewell Collection, London.

10 Pollak, vol. II, p. 89.

11 The portrait of Ginnasi given to Sacchi in the Museo di Roma (Palazzo Braschi) in Rome is far too weak for the attribution to be tenable. Perhaps Ginnasi's painter niece, Caterina, was responsible.

12 Francis Haskell, Patrons and Painters, London, 1963, pp. 28-9, gives a good, brief account of Cardinal del Monte's career and activities as a patron. His patronage of Sacchi is more extensive than Haskell knew; all Sacchi's major commissions between 1621 and 1626 originated with del Monte.

13 Among the documents to be published in my forthcoming monograph on Sacchi is an inventory of his household possessions made a few days after his death in June 1661. This describes his front parlour, with portraits of Urban VIII, Alexander VII, Cardinal del Monte, Don Taddeo Barberini and the three Barberini cardinals, an arrangement clearly designed to impress the arriving visitor.

14 It was exhibited at Agnew's in June 1967 (see the Burlington Magazine, vol. cix, 1967, p. 375, fig. 52). The drawing is now in the Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida. I wish to thank the Ringling Museum for permission to illustrate the drawing here.

15 Sacchi's Miracle of St Gregory the Great (Chapter House, St Peter's, Rome) of 1625-6 lacks the confidence and assured paint handling seen in works he executed a few years later (e.g. the Prado Birth of the Virgin of 1628-9, the Collegio Romano sketches of 1929-30, the Divina Sapienza ceiling in the Palazzo Barberini of 1629-31 and the Vision of St Romuald of 1631). A date after the death of Cardinal del Monte is therefore preferable for the Ottawa picture, a factor which also militates against its identification with del Monte.

16 Haskell, pp. 28-9.

17 Ann Sutherland Harris, "The Date of Andrea Sacchi's Vision of St Romuald," Burlington Magazine, vol. cx, 1968, pp. 489-94.

18 Ibid., p. 490, n. 12.

19 His tomb in S. Francesco a Ripa is unmarked and none of the seicento publications in his honour that I was able to trace contained a frontispiece with a portrait (e.g. Romanae Aedijicationes curatae a Laelio Biscae...a Leone Allatio Conscriptionae, Padua, 1644). I was unable to trace a copy of Francescus Guerrinus, Gli Tre Finti Villani, Cardinali Biscae, Urbe Veteri (Orvieto), apud Rinaldum, 1632.

20. J. A. F. Orbaan, Documenti sul Barocco a Roma, Rome, 1920, pp. 216, 221, 313 and 315. For other biographical data, see note 13 of the article cited in note 17 above. 

21. For all these details, see Niccolà Barozzi and Guglielmo Berchet, Relazioni degli Stati Europei lette al Senato dagli Ambasciatori Veneti del Secolo Decimosettimo, Serie III-Italia Relazioni di Roma, 1877-8, vol. I, p. 278. "Biscia, di 55 anni, pare totalmente abandonato, non essendo impiegato in congregationi particolari che si vanno facendo alla giornata in cose che occorrono nel mondo. Egli è povero e rimane povero, avendo ricevuto poco, credesi perà che i signori Barberini non abbino pensiero di coltivar punto questo soggetto. La scusa è pronta patendo egli un poco di sordità d'orrecchia; dico scusa perchè non è veramente questa la vera cagione. Questo abbandono comincià subito dopo la sua promozione, vogliono i più perspicaci che ne fosse causa la troppo scoperta pratica, con che egli si portava al Pontificato, pretendo quei signori, che niuno di sua posta debba imbarcarsi se non posto in barca da loro medesimi. Egli perà s'ajuta con la cortesia, la quale è in eccesso, onde la Corte di oggidi d'altrettanto si Ioda della sua generosità, hora che è Cardinale, questo si doleva della molta sua austerità quando erà Prelato" (written 1627-9).

22 Sacchi was one of a number of artists active in Rome in the 1620s affected by the presence of Titian's Bacchanals (now in the Prado and the National Gallery, London). They arrived from Ferrara with Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini at the turn of the century and by 1625 had generated a "neo-Venetian" movement, Nicolas Poussin being the artist most profoundly affected by them. It became as essential for young painters to study and copy this set of pictures at this time as it was to master more traditional older masters such as Raphael, Michelangelo, Giulio Romano and Polidoro da Caravaggio. The impact of Titian's three masterpieces is seen in all of Sacchi's work executed in the 1620s and early 1630s, including the Ottawa picture.

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