(b. 1609, Sassoferrato, d. 1685, Roma)

Portrait of Monsignor Ottaviano Prati

c. 1650
Oil on canvas, 119 x 92 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

This painting is a fundamental work for the reconstruction of Sassoferrato's production as it is one of his few known portraits and the only one of these to be signed by the painter. Considered one of the highest quality examples of Sassoferrato's oeuvre, the canvas is datable to around 1650.

The sitter is Monsignor Ottaviano Prati, a Parmese nobleman who served the papacy as Governor of Benevento and following that, served for a few months as Bishop of Bertinoro. He is shown here at about the age of fifty. It is possible that the introduction between the patron and the artist was made by the Aldobrandini family, for whom Sassoferrato also worked. With its subject shown standing and in three quarter view, this composition is arranged according to the Renaissance canon of portraiture, a style reintroduced in the seventeenth century by Domenichino, Sassoferrato's teacher. The lively rendering of the sitter's intense psychology is realized through the subtle vibrations of light and colour. The brilliant chromatic range, based prevalently on primary colours, underlines the monumentality of the portrait image.

An inscription on the sheet of paper that the sitter holds reads "al..Monsignor... Ottaviano Prati per Giovan Battista Salvi".

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