Pompeo Girolamo Batoni
The Italian painter Pompeo Girolamo Batoni was born on January 25, 1708 in Lucca. He was the son of the goldsmith Paolino Batoni. At his father’s request, he first completed an apprenticeship to become a goldsmith. Batoni received his first lessons in drawing at his father’s studio. He later attended the drawing academy of Giovanni Domenico Lombardi (1682–1752) and Domenico Brugieri in Lucca.
In 1727, the artist travelled to Rome to start his studies of painting there. His teachers were Sebastiano Conca (1680–1764) and Agostino Masucci (1690–1768), whose private academy he attended. However, Batoni mostly trained autodidactically. He received the financial support of his patron Alessandro Guinigi and seven other aristocrats from Lucca. The painter studied the works of Raffael at the Vatican and Villa Farnesina in particular. In addition, he drew the sculptures of antiquity in the Vatican’s collection.
His benefactors from Lucca withdrew their financial support when he married the daughter of the custos at the Villa Farnesina in 1729. Pompeo Girolamo Batoni was forced to earn his living by selling copies of the classical sculptures and by painting fans. The painter frequently worked with other artists such as Jan Frans van Bloemen (1662–1749) and Hendrik Frans van Lint (1684–1763), painting the figures for their landscapes. In 1741, Batoni was elected to be a member in the Accademia di S. Luca. Together with Marco Benefial, he held the office of Direttori de’Forestiere from 1752 to 1755. He held the same office with Anton Raphael Mengs (1728 – 1779) from 1756 to 1759 and with Francesca Caccianiga (1700–81) from 1760-61. Pompeo Girolamo Batoni was frequently one of the two "Stimmatori di Pittura". Moreover, he was the director of the "Accademia Capitolino del Nudo". This was his most important office within the Accademia.
The peak of Batoni‘s development as a historical painter is the altar-piece "The Fall of Simon Magus", commissioned in 1746 by the Reverenda Fabbricca di San Pietro. The artist completed the painting in 1755. However, it was removed from St. Peter two years later because of the negative reception it received. This apparent failure by the artist marked a turning point in his career. Up to that time, he had painted both religious and mythological paintings but from then on he increasingly dedicated himself to painting portraits. Batoni no longer painted altar-pieces for a Roman church and no longer attempted thematic pictures. In the summer of 1786, Batoni’s health deteriorated. His eyesight became impaired. He suffered his first stroke in October of the same year and was almost completely incapacitated afterward.
Following a second stroke, Pompeo Girolamo Batoni died in Rome on February 4, 1787.