The face in the painting looked very familiar…
The painting was commissioned by Cardinal Barberini, a member of one the two most important noble families of Rome at the time. The other was the Pamphilii family, which was not exactly on the best of terms with the Barberini. In fact, these two family were at odds with each other.
The Pamphilii also had a Cardinal in the family, Giovanni Battista Pamphilii. It is said that Cardinal Pamphilii had defamed the artist, seriously damaging his reputation. Reni, resentful, decided to take revenge on the Cardinal. When his work was finished and presented to the public, everyone was astounded by the perfection and beauty of the angel, but also marveled at the face of the devil: they found quite a striking resemblance to Cardinal Pamphilii.
Of course, the Pamphilii demanded an explanation from Reni. This was the artist’s only reply: “It is true that I will never be able to do justice to angelical beauty, but I have seen the devil in the face, and that’s how I’ve painted him. Therefore, I won’t change a single thing.”
Needless to say, the mockery grew even more pronounced when Cardinal Pamphilii became Pope Innocent X.
Support Aleteia! It only takes a minute.
If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.
Here are some numbers:
- 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
- Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
- Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
- Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
- Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
- We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)
As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.
Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!