(b. 1438, Forli, d. 1494, Forli

Foundation of the Library

Pinacoteca, Vatican

History was not kind to the Emilian painter Melozzo da Forli, since his only work that survives in excellent condition is this group portrait executed in fresco for the Vatican Palace. The reigning pope, Sixtus IV, seated on the right, is shown in the company of several individuals, including two of his nephews. The standing figure in the centre of the composition facing Sixtus can be identified as his nephew Giuliano, later Pope Julius II. Melozzo's manner recalls that of Mantegna, although it is somewhat less insistent and more approachable.

The fresco represents the historical event of the foundation of the library in 1475 and the nomination of its first head, Bartolomeo Platina. He is kneeling in front of Pope Sixtus IV, the cardinal standing beside him is Giuliano della Rovere, the future Pope Julius II. The man standing beside the throne is Apostolic Protonotary Raffaello Riario, and behind Platina are Girolamo Riario and Giovanni della Rovere. Platina points his finger to the Latin inscription below.