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Ottavio Leoni (c. 1578-1630)

Cristofano Roncalli 1623

Engraving | 14.0 x 10.8 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 670012

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  • An engraved portrait of Cristofano Roncalli; bust-length, turned three-quarters to the left; framed in a dodecagon. This print is lettered around the portrait: Eques Christophor' Ronchalis de Pome: / rancijs pictor / supior permissu / Eques Octauius Leo Roman' pictor fecit / 1623. Trimmed to the platemark.

    Ottavio Leoni was best known as a portrait draughtsman, producing many hundreds of finely drawn chalk portraits of all levels of Roman society over three decades. In 1614 he was elected Principal of the painters' Accademia di San Luca; he also practised as an engraver, publishing two sequences of small portrait engravings – of men of letters, framed in ovals, and here of his fellow artists in the Accademia, framed in dodecagons, together with a portrait of his father, the Paduan medallist and maker of wax reliefs Ludovico Leoni, who had died in 1612.

    This impression comes from an album of artists' portraits assembled in the 1630s by the Roman collector Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588–1657). Ten albums of portrait prints were acquired by George III in 1762 as part of Cassiano's 'Paper Museum', arranged by the occupation of the sitter – popes and cardinals, kings of France, military commanders and so on. The albums were broken up in the nineteenth century and many of the prints subsequently sold, but an inventory of c.1810 allows the contents of each to be reconstructed in detail. The volume entitled Illustrious Painters &c does indeed begin with (Italian) painters – Raphael, Michelangelo, Andrea del Sarto and so on, in chronological order, ending with Leoni's series of contemporary artists and a group of four female painters. Then follow sequences of sculptors, architects, engravers and antiquarian scholars; then non-Italian artists (painters followed by engravers); and finally, musicians. Almost every portrait in Cassiano's album was executed by a printmaker in the immediate circle of that artist. Leoni's engravings are fine examples of this type of artistic social interaction. (See also RCIN 670000, 670002, 670003, 670011.). For more information see Mark McDonald, The Print Collection of Cassiano dal Pozzo. I: Ceremonies, Costumes, Portraits and Genre, 3 vols, Royal Collection Trust 2017, part of The Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo: A Catalogue Raisonné, cat. no. 1625.

    Text adapted from Portrait of the Artist, London, 2016

    From the collection of Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588-22 October 1657); inherited by his brother, Carlo Antonio dal Pozzo (1606-1689); sold by Carlo Antonio’s grandson to Clement XI, 1703; acquired by Cardinal Alessandro Albani by 1714, from whom the collection was purchased by George III in 1762.

  • Medium and techniques



    14.0 x 10.8 cm (sheet of paper)

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    Object type(s)
  • Alternative title(s)

    A portrait of Cristofano Roncalli, called Pomerancio