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Interior of Saint Peter's, Rome

Interior of Saint Peter's, Rome, 1735

Giovanni Paolo Panini
Italian, 1691-1765
Oil on canvas
60-1/4 x 86-1/2 in. (153 x 219.7 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

Panini painted close to 20 versions of the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica, the seat of Catholicism in Rome. St. Peter’s was a major site of religious pilgrimage and tourism in the 18th century, as it is today. This painting depicts the church as it looked prior to changes that occurred after 1743. It is based on a work, now in the Louvre, that was commissioned by Cardinal Melchior de Polignac, French ambassador to the Vatican. Although he is not depicted in this version, Polignac can often be spotted in these paintings in red robes and surrounded by a small coterie. In this painting, the bold description of the vast interior architecture and the finely detailed rendering of the decor testify to Panini’s early training in designing theater sets.

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