Portrait of Cardinal Paluzzo Altieri
Giovanni Battista Gaulli known as Il Baciccio (1639-1709)
17th century, Oil on canvas
Having received the title in the Basilica Santi Apostoli in 1666, in his early thirties, Cardinal Paluzzo Paluzzi degli Albertoni (1623-1698) turned to Giovanni Battista Gaulli, the finest Baroque artist in Rome at the time, to commission a portrait that celebrated his recent nomination. Here, Gaulli portrays his patron in three-quarters, with his gaze turned towards the viewer, wearing a skullcap, a softly-pleated biretta and a wide collar. The familiarity of a close association between the cardinal and the artist is suggested by his now worn appearance and facial features marked by age. This painting shows the technique and style that had made the reputation of this Geneose artist, who had arrived in Rome in 1657. Gaulli combines the portrait techniques of Van Dyck and the chromaticism of Rubens with the liveliness of Bernini’s figurative language, of which he was among the main proponents.