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Portrait of the Abbate Carlo Bartolomeo Piazza
Italian, Roman
/

A man with a distinctive beard and moustache sits in a chair looking out. He wears a black ecclesiastical robe and holds a geometric compass in his left hand. On the table to the left is an armillary sphere and a sheet of paper with a horoscope, on which rests a book inscribed along the edge of its pages: Efemer (the last letter is not certain).

The inscription on the book allows the sitter to be identified as Carlo Bartolomeo Piazza (1632–1713), an erudite Milanese priest who had a successful career in the Roman Curia (papal court) and who published extensively. His Efemeride Vaticana, an illustrated calendar of saints, was published in Rome in 1687.

When this painting was bequeathed to the National Gallery in 1908, it was thought to be a portrait of the astronomer Galileo Galilei by the Florentine painter Domenico Cresti, called Passignano (1558–1638). Given the identification of the sitter and Piazza’s probable age, the portrait was most likely painted in Rome in the late seventeenth century.

Key facts
Artist Italian, Roman
Full title Portrait of the Abbate Carlo Bartolomeo Piazza
Date made late 17th century
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 113.7 x 83.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by George Fielder, 1908
Inventory number NG2294
Location in Gallery Not on display
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