Portrait of Maffeo Barberini Caravaggio Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Portrait of Maffeo Barberini is a piece of work created by Caravaggio, an inspirational artist during the Baroque period.

The piece was created using oil on canvas and is now part of a private collection in Florence and the artist was hugely inspirational during this period.

The Portrait of Maffeo Barberini keeps in style of the artists, providing a piece that has stark realism with dramatic use of light.

In this Caravaggio painting, Portrait of Maffeo Barberini, the use of stark light and contrast is very apparent and true to the artists popular style of the time. The image depicts Maffeo Barberini, a wealthy large man, as he sits proudly in his grand wooden chair.

In this scene, he is wearing white attire, draped in a black gown bearing a black hat. While the clothing appears to be formal, Barberini’s face holds a joyful, happy expression as he appears to be enjoying himself.

One hand is clutching a piece of paper while the other points towards something he can see in the room, his eyes follow his hand also pointing towards the same object.

A larger scroll rests on the chair that he is sat in and a rope with a tassel is wrapped around the document. The Portrait of Maffeo Barberini shows light falling onto Barberini’s face as well as on the wall to the right of him, this was typical of the style of the artist and of the time. The light shows a contrast between the dark shadows of the right of the wall and highlights the joyful expression of the subject’s face.

At the time, the Portrait of Maffeo Barberini was created Barberini was 30 years old. He was a Florentine nobleman and was quickly rising as a church prelate, he came from a wealthy family and had been educated by the ‘Society of Jesus’.

The Barberini family were patrons of the arts and Maffeo Barberini was an avid collector of art, spending a lot of money on sculptures and paintings. He became an asset to Caravaggio’s career and later commissioned a painting called the Sacrifice of Isaac. On the 6th August 1623, at the age of 56 Barberini became Pope under the name of Pope Urban VII.