Carlo Maratti (Maratta) (1625–1713) – an outstanding portraitist and a father of an equally outstanding daughter

Carlo Maratti, the artist’s bust on the funerary monument, Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli

Carlo Maratti, the artist’s bust on the funerary monument, Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli

He was one of the most renowned painters of his era, while after the deaths of Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Pietro da Cortona he became the brightest star in the artistic landscape of Roman art. In addition, he worked as a conservator and his works included the restoration of frescos by Raphael in Villa Farnesina and Stanzas in the Apostolic Palace. He was also the father of Faustina – one of the most interesting women of the turn of the XVII and XVIII centuries in Rome.

Carlo Maratti, the artist’s bust on the funerary monument, Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli
Carlo Maratti, Faustina, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Palazzo Corsini, pic. Wikipedia
Carlo Maratti, Adoration of the Shepherds, Church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami
Carlo Maratti, Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, Church of Sant'Isidoro
Carlo Maratti, St. Augustine, Church of Santa Maria dei Sette Dolori
Carlo Maratti, Clementia, Palazzo Altieri, pic. Wikipedia web gallery of art
Carlo Maratti, Our Lady with SS. Charles Borromeo and Ignatius of Loyola, Church of Santa Maria della Vallicella
Carlo Maratti, design of the tombstone of Pope Innocent XI, Basilica of San Pietro in Vaticano
Carlo Maratti, Madonna with St. John the Evangelist, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Palazzo Corsini
Carlo Maratti, Maria Immacolata, Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo
Carlo Maratti, Portrait of Pope Clement IX, Pinacoteca Vaticana - Musei Vaticani
Carlo Maratti, Saint Peter Presenting the Saints to Our Lady, Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva
Carlo Maratti,  Francesca Gommi Maratti (the artist’s second wife), pic. Wikipedia
Carlo Maratti, Death of St. Francis Xavier, Church of Il Gesù
Carlo Maratti, Adoration of the Magi, Basilica of San Marco
Carlo Maratti, Portrait of Marii Mancini Mazarino, Palazzo Colonna, fragment
Carlo Maratti, Glory of St. Joseph, Church of Sant'Isidoro a Capo le Case
Carlo Maratti, St. John the Baptist, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Palazzo Barberini
Carlo Maratti, Judith, Musei Capitolini
Carlo Maratti,  Adoration of Our Lady by SS. Ambrose and Charles Borromeo, Basilica of San Carlo al Corso
Carlo Maratti, Madonna with Child, Palazzo Quirinale
Carlo Maratti, Portrait of Maria Maddalena Rospigliosi, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Palazzo Barberini
Carlo Maratti, Saint Bernard Convincing the anti-pope Victor IV to subjugate himself to Pope Innocent II, Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
Funerary monument of Carlo Maratti, Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli

He was one of the most renowned painters of his era, while after the deaths of Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Pietro da Cortona he became the brightest star in the artistic landscape of Roman art. In addition, he worked as a conservator and his works included the restoration of frescos by Raphael in Villa Farnesina and Stanzas in the Apostolic Palace. He was also the father of Faustina – one of the most interesting women of the turn of the XVII and XVIII centuries in Rome.

Maratti probably came to the Eternal City in 1636 and immediately he found himself in the prestigious workshop of Andrea Sacchi, with which he was connected until the death of his master in 1661. As his student he was part of the representatives of Baroque classicism, which meant his painting was a return to the style of Raphael and Annibale Carracci while it moved decisively away from the still popular style of the Caravaggionists. The painting, with which he drew the interests of Roman art experts was The Adoration of the Shepherds, a work painted by a young twenty-five year old. From that time he became one of the most popular artists in the city on the Tiber. His star shone especially brightly during the pontificate of Alexander VII.

 

The paintings created later, after 1650, are characterized by a mastery of lighting and a visible tendency towards the ideal. Due to the often painted images of the Virgin Mary with Child, but also outstanding ability in the creation of this motif, Maratti was known as “Little Carlo of the Madonnas”. He was also the teacher of a young generation of artists who were educated in the Roman Accademia di San Luca, of which he became the principe in 1700. His claim to fame was not only religious paintings, but most of all portraits – it can definitely be said that he was a master of this genre, which is testified to by the images of his closest relatives: his second wife – Francesca, daughter Faustina, but most of all Pope Clement IX. The last one may surely compete with one created nearly 20 years prior, an outstanding portrait of Innocent X, by Diego Velázquez (Portrait of Pope Innocent X).

Still in the XVIII century the painter was praised for the mastery of his art, yet in the following century harsh criticism befell him. Why? One of the reasons was the bad quality of many of his paintings, which was caused by the great popularity of the artist. In order to be able to fulfill all his commissions, which he was given, he had to employ a number of aides, who simply completed his sketches. That is why the level of the works from his workshop varied greatly, and more often than not was simply bad. For the last ten years of his life, due to problems with vision, he did not paint himself, yet he still maintained his workshop. It was not until the XX century that many of his canvas returned to grace, becoming an inseparable link of Roman art from the turn of the XVII and XVIII centuries.

In 1679, Maratti’s illegitimate daughter, Faustina was born. Although it was not until twenty years later that the artist officially acknowledged her as his rightful daughter, he previously ensured her with careful, humanist education. After the death of his first wife the painter married Faustina’s mother, Francesca Gommi. Their daughter was a woman of exquisite beauty, whose image adorned many of Maratti’s canvas. However, apart from that she was a significant poetess, although her education also included paiting, playing the harpsichord and learning Spanish. When Faustina married the poet Giambattista Felice Zappi, together they created a significant literary and musical salon in Rome.

The painter died of old age and was buried in the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, where a beautiful tombstone with his image is located.

 

Some of the artist’s works in Rome:

  •     Fresco Constantine Ordering the Destruction of Pagan Idols in the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Laterano
  •     The Adoration of the Shepherds for the Church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami, 1650
  •     Frescoes in the Church of Sant’Isidoro in Capo le Case: The Apotheosis of St. Joseph on the church vault (1656), The Dream of St. Joseph and The Adoration of the Shepherds, as well as – in the da Sylva Chapel – the painting Santa Maria Immacolata
  •     His most important commission was the decoration of the ceiling of the representative Audience Hall of Palazzo Altieri. The subject of the painting is Clementia, meaning good and gentleness, referring to the name of Pope Clement X – the founder and owner of the palace.
 
  •     The Death of St. Francis Xavier in the transept of the Church of Il Gesù, 1679
  •     The Visitation in the Church of Santa Maria della Pace, 1658
  •     Madonna with SS. Charles Borromeo and Ignatius of Loyola in the Church of Santa Maria in Vallicella, 1672
  •     Madonna Immacolata in the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, 1686
  •     Ambrose and St. Charles Borromeo Presented to Christ by Our Lady in the Basilica of San Carlo al Corso, 1690
  •   Design of the tombstone of Pope Innocent XI in the Basilica of San Pietro in Vaticano

Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica – Palazzo Barberini

  •     Portrait of Antonio Barberini
  •   Series of paintings representing the apostles commissioned  by Cardinal Antonio Barberini – the nepot of Pope Urban VIII

Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica  – Palazzo Corsini

  •     Madonna with Child
  •     The Martyrdom of St. Andrew
  •     The Meeting of Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well – believed to be one of the most beautiful paintings in the Corsini collection
  •     The Flight to Egypt
  •     Portrait of his daughter Faustina

 

Musei Vaticani – Pinacoteca Vaticana