BATONI, Pompeo
(b. 1708, Lucca, d. 1787, Roma)


Italian painter, the last great Italian personality in the history of painting at Rome. He carried out prestigious church commissions and painted numerous fine mythological canvases, many for eminent foreign patrons, but he is famous above all as a portraitist. After Mengs left Rome for Madrid in 1761 his preeminence in this field was unchallenged, and he was particularly favoured by foreign visitors making the Grand Tour (an extensive journey to the Continent), whom he often portrayed in an antique setting.

His style was a polished and learned distillation from the antique, the works of Raphael, academic French painting, and the teaching of his master Sebastiano Conca. His characterization is not profound, but it is usually vivid, and he presented his sitters with dignity. Batoni was also an outstanding draughtsman, his drawings after the antique being particularly memorable. He was curator of the papal collections and his house was a social, intellectual, and artistic centre, Winckelmann being among his friends.