Italian art: The Sacchetti Family

Mar 16, 2017 22

Last fall a news bounced in the newspapers throughout Italy and particularly in the specialized ones in the artistic field: the Fondazione Giulio e Giovanna Sacchetti donated the portrait of the ancestor Cardinal Giulio Cesare Sacchetti to the Galleria Borghese Museum in Rome. The donation makes sense from a philological point of view, and is linked to the presence in the Borghese collection of the twin framework, the Portrait of Marcello Sacchetti, who now after five hundred years meets the other, while maintaining an air of mystery about the events of their separation, never officially documented.

Pietro da Cortona was the author of the paintings of the two great patrons, supporters of his apical success in the Rome of the early seventeenth century that later saw his triumph in all arts fields up to being recognized as one of the great fathers of the baroque ensemble, together with Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini. The paintings were commissioned to celebrate Giulio's appointment as a Cardinal by another Tuscan undisputed protagonist of the time: Maffeo Barberini, who became Pope Urban VIII in the summer of 1623.

In return the Sacchetti Family, tied with the Barberinis, will pay back the Pope by allocating real artistic talents from their protection to the Pope's one, starting with Pietro da Cortona.

This is a very rare news, because it is not every day that the heirs of a historic Roman family who own a remarkable collection make a great philanthropic gesture depriving themselves of an invaluable piece to reunite it to its natural counterpart. The story brings back the notoriety of a family with a five centuries history that is still present in different areas of Rome through the testimonies of buildings and monuments commissioned at the time of their great political rise.

To the Sacchetti family we owe the beautiful Building in Via Giulia. But most of all, we owe them their family chapel in the church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini: the final placement of the sculptural group of the "Baptism of Christ" by Francesco Mochi, which was designed for the main altar of the church but arrived there just recently, after being placed in the Palazzo Falconieri Courtyard, then on the famous Roman Ponte Milvio and then in the atrium of Palazzo Braschi, from which was finally taken last July to be returned in its original location.

Pietro da Cortona built for the Sacchettis also Casino del Pineto Sacchetti, now reduced to a few ruins because of a structural collapse due to the presence of ground water beneath its foundations, which already in 1675 had created problems to the building. Even the family's Villa of Castel Fusano was rebuilt by Pietro da Cortona, and still stands in the pine forest in the coast of Ostia near Rome.

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