Giovanni Francesco ROMANELLI

Viterbo 1610 - Viterbo 1662


Born in Viterbo, the painter and tapestry designer Giovanni Francesco Romanelli left the city at an early age to train as an artist in Rome. After studying with Domenichino, he entered the studio of Pietro da Cortona, becoming one the Tuscan artist’s most outstanding pupils. Romanelli assisted Cortona on the decoration of the Palazzo Barberini in Rome in 1631, and soon gained the patronage of the Barberini family himself, receiving numerous commissions from Pope Urban VIII Barberini, as well as serving as the superintendent of the Barberini tapestry manufactory, for which he provided many cartoons. The death of Urban VIII in 1644 and the decline of Barberini patronage in Rome led Romanelli to seek commissions elsewhere. Through the influence of Cardinals Antonio and Franceso Barberini, who had settled in Paris under the protection of Cardinal Jules Mazarin, Romanelli was summoned to France, where he would earn several important commissions. Among the first of these was a fresco cycle depicting scenes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, executed in 1646-1647 for the Galerie Mazarin in Paris, which, as one modern scholar has noted, ‘represent the first painted cycle by a Roman artist in Paris after the attempts to invite Guido Reni and Cortona had failed.’ Romanelli’s frescoes were to prove highly influential for French painting of the succeeding generation. Back in Rome, he worked at the Altemps, Lante and Costaguti palaces, as well as in the church of San Marco. He was back in Paris between 1654 and 1657, when he was commissioned by King Louis XIV to paint various rooms in the Palais du Louvre, notably the summer apartments of Anne of Austria. Such was Romanelli’s stature in France that he was knighted by Louis XIV into the chivalric order of Saint-Michel. The artist spent the remainder of his career in his native Viterbo, where he worked in the Duomo.

Artworks by this artist