Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (Lucca 1708 – Rome 1787)
This Evangelist is from a group of eight pictures now in the Iliffe Collection at Basildon Park that comes from a set of twelve pictures of God the Father and the Apostles, originally painted for the town palace of Count Cesare and Fra Giuseppe Merenda in Forlí. They were Batoni's most dedicated patrons, commissioning at least 32 paintings from him between about 1740 and 1750. Saint Matthew holds a manuscript, embodying his Gospel, whilst his traditional symbol, an angel, indicates a passage in a book — standing for the Old Testament prophecies whose fulfilment his contribution to the New Testament reveals — whilst pointing to Heaven as the source of his inspiration.
Oil painting on canvas, Saint Matthew by Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (Lucca 1708 – Rome 1787), 1740-43. A half-length figure at a table on which he holds open book in left hand and rests right elbow with right hand held against him. Brown hair and beard, green tunic and orange/brown cloak. He looks at an angel, who is giving him divine inspiration to write his first gospel, on his right who points up with his left hand and with his right hand points on the book.Moulded gilt frame. Part of set with NT/BAS/P/12-14,17-20.
Commissioned by Count Cesare (1700-1754) and Fra Giuseppe (1687-1760) Merenda, for the picture gallery of the Palazzo Merenda, Forlì, around 1740-43; there till 1945; Villa Merenda - Salecchi, near Forlì, till 1959, when sold (probably via M. & C. Sestieri, Rome) to the dealer Julius Weitzner (1896 - 1986), London; with P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London, 1959-60; by whom sold in 1960 to Lord & Lady Iliffe; by whom presented to the National Trust, together with the house and grounds of Basildon Park, and a substantial part of their collection of paintings, in 1979
Basildon Park, The Iliffe Collection (National Trust)
Makers and roles
Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (Lucca 1708 – Rome 1787), artist
In Trust for the Nation, National Gallery, London, 1995 - 1996, no.54d
Clark and Bowron 1985 Anthony M. Clark & Edgar Peters Bowron (ed.), Pompeo Batoni A Complete Catalogue of his Works with an Introductory Text, Oxford 1985, p. 232, no. 81, p. 81