Although the setting is imaginary, the painting collection was not. We know from a manuscript inventory that the Cardinal owned the pictures represented. Many were copies of famous pictures, but many others were originals that have since found their way into museums the world over. When the Cardinal died in 1756 many of the paintings entered the Torlonia collection and subsequently the Galleria Nazionale of Italy; others were sold at auction in Amsterdam in 1763. Panini was born in northern Italy, but he came to Rome at the age of about 20 and worked there the rest of his life. He specialized in painting galleries and imaginary views of Rome that were popular with grand tourists and Romans alike.
Giovanni Paolo Panini (Italian, Roman, ca.1691-1765)
The Gallery of Cardinal Valenti-Gonzaga, 1749
Oil on canvas 78 x 105 1/2 in.
The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1948.478
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT
Matted size: 11 x 14 in.
Image size: 9 x 6 3/4 in.