SEBASTIANO DEL PIOMBO
(b. 1485, Venezia, d. 1547, Roma)
Pope Clement VII1526
Oil on canvas, 145 x 110 cm
Museo e Gallerie Nazionali di Capodimonte, Naples
In this portrait of Clement VII, the illegitimate son of Lorenzo il Magnifico's brother and patron of both Michelangelo and Sebastiano, greater attention is given to the figure and less to the space around him. In Sebastiano's portrait, the not altogether handsome Medici pope is rendered dignified and monumentalised. While the portrait type itself derives from Raphael's Julius II, other elements reveal his debt to Michelangelo, such as the enlarged hand dangling from the chair. The elegant treatment of material and the placement of light that flickers over the entire figure produce ample visual excitement.