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Giovanni Paolo Panini, Rome: The Interior of St Peter's

Key facts
Full title Rome: The Interior of St Peter's
Artist Giovanni Paolo Panini
Artist dates 1691 - 1765
Date made before 1742
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 149.8 × 222.7 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1942
Inventory number NG5362
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Rome: The Interior of St Peter's
Giovanni Paolo Panini

Panini specialised in architectural views and painted about 30 pictures of the monumental interior of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome over several decades. This is a view of the main entrance, looking down the nave towards the tomb of Saint Peter. We look out over the church from an elevated positioned, with figures scattered across the vast tiled floor beneath us and piers and arches soaring above.

Sunlight streams through the upper windows and domes, creating shadows across the vaulted ceiling and the aisles, arches and floor. The alternating areas of light and shadow, and the complex combination of vertical, diagonal and curved lines, lead us deeper into the scene. Panini has beautifully captured the church’s lavish decoration, from the ornate gilding of the ceiling and the elaborate design of the floor to the sculpted figures that adorn the upper arches.

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