Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Interior of Saint Peter's, Rome

Giovanni Paolo Panini (Italian, Piacenza 1691–1765 Rome)
after 1754
Oil on canvas
29 1/8 x 39 1/4 in. (74 x 99.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, 1871
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 620
Saint Peter's was an obligatory stop for both pilgrims and tourists to Rome. Panini made numerous versions of this view, updating them in accordance with additions and alterations to the basilica. The earliest version is a large canvas in the Louvre, Paris, painted in 1730 for the French Ambassador, Cardinal Melchior de Polignac. The Metropolitan's picture postdates 1754, when the statues of Saint Theresa of Avila and Saint Vincent de Paul in the niches of the first two pilasters on the right were erected.
Inscription: Inscribed (around base of dome): TV ES PETRVS ETS[VPER] . . . CELORVM (You are Peter and upon . . . of heaven [Matthew 16:18-19].)
[Léon Gauchez and Alexis Febvre, Paris, until 1870; sold to Blodgett]; William T. Blodgett, Paris and New York (1870–71; sold half share to Johnston); William T. Blodgett and John Taylor Johnston, New York (1871; sold to MMA)
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. "Paintings and Bronzes from the Collection of Mr. Robert Lehman," 1951–52, no. ?

New York. Union League Club. "Exhibition from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 23, 1969–January 2, 1970, checklist no. 16 (as "Cardinal Polignac Visiting St. Peter's, Rome").

Amherst, Mass. Amherst College. "Roman Baroque Festival," April 1–30, 1974, no catalogue?

Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne," June 23–November 12, 2006, no. 4.

Barcelona. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. "Grandes maestros de la pintura europea de The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York: De El Greco a Cézanne," December 1, 2006–March 4, 2007, no. 2.

Princeton University Art Museum. "Lasting Impressions of the Grand Tour: Giuseppe Vasi's Rome," March 26–June 12, 2011, checklist no. 7.

Mario Labò in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 26, Leipzig, 1932, p. 201, lists it with the works of Panini, as "Cardinal de Polignac in Saint Peter's".

Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 270–71, ill., as painted for Cardinal de Polignac and from his collection; mentions a larger version of the subject, dated 1730, in the Louvre, Paris.

Michael Levey. "Panini, St Peter's, and Cardinal de Polignac." Burlington Magazine 99 (February 1957), p. 54, dates it "not earlier than 1754" on the basis of the statues appearing in the niches; observes that the 1730 prototype in the Louvre was commissioned by Cardinal de Polignac and lists eighteen versions of the composition, including ours; among other later variants includes examples in the Landesgalerie, Hanover, the Ca'Rezzonico, Venice, and private collections formerly in Munich and London.

Ferdinando Arisi. Gian Paolo Panini. Piacenza, 1961, pp. 140, 209, no. 241, fig. 297, calls the Louvre example the first of the series, from which ours is substantially modified; accepts Levey's [see Ref. 1957] dating for our canvas of "not before 1754," and, since Cardinal de Polignac died in 1742, sees no reason to identify him in the composition; mentions preparatory drawings for our picture in the Gabinetto delle Stampe, Berlin (n. 17536) and the British Museum, London (inv. 789.197.b.5; fol. 12 and 101).

Richard P. Wunder. "L''Interno di S. Pietro' del Panini a Ca' Rezzonico." Bollettino dei musei civici veneziani 7 (1962), p. 12, dates it after 1754 based on its relationship to another version of the subject in the Museo Correr, Venice; notes that there are at least thirty versions of this subject that can fairly securely be attributed to the workshop of Panini, all of which differ in their figural groups, depiction of banners and the angle of projection of the architecture.

Federico Zeri and Elizabeth E. Gardner. Unpublished manuscript. [ca. 1970–80], note that this picture repeats a popular view of the interior of the basilica of Saint Peter's in Rome, which Panini executed at least twenty-three times for various patrons; explain that although Cardinal de Polignac commissioned and is portrayed in the primary version of 1730, the figures of a cardinal and his retinue in the other variants should be regarded as generic types; date it after 1754, since the statues of Saint Theresa of Avila and of Saint Vincent de Paul represented in this work were erected in that year; note that even though some of the replicas reveal the hands of Panini's son Francesco and other pupils such as Antonio Joli and Hubert Robert, "there is no reason. . . for thinking that our canvas is a work of collaboration".

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 156, 495, 605.

Ferdinando Arisi. Gian Paolo Panini e i fasti della Roma del '700. Rome, 1986, p. 453, no. 448, ill.

Michael Kiene. Pannini. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 1992, p. 139.

Ferdinando Arisi in Giovanni Paolo Panini, 1691–1765. Ed. Ferdinando Arisi. Exh. cat., Palazzo Gotico. Milan, 1993, p. 84.

Katharine Baetjer. "Buying Pictures for New York: The Founding Purchase of 1871." Metropolitan Museum Journal 39 (2004), pp. 220, 245, appendix 1A no. 153, ill.

Mary Sprinson de Jesús in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2006, pp. 12, 40–42, no. 4, ill. (color, overall and detail) [Catalan ed., Barcelona, 2006, pp. 15, 28–29, no. 2, ill. (color)].

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