After Batoni’s death his reputation declined as other countries, notably England, produced more significant portraitists of their own. In recent years, Batoni’s reputation has been rejuvenated and the corpus of his work forms an important document of the cultural history of the eighteenth century.
In the first part of his career Batoni was best known for his history paintings and he became one of the most refined practitioners of the Roman grand manner descending from Raphael (1483–1520) and the baroque classicism of Maratti (1625–1713). The climax of his career as a history painter was the Fall of Simon Magus (1746–55) painted for Saint Peter’s and today in Santa Maria degli Angeli. With its sparkling technique and sense of drama the painting is much less academic than others of the Maratti school. A later subject picture Alexander and the family of Darius (Potsdam) is more severe in its relief composition and accords well with the work of Mengs (1728–79) and other early Neoclassical painters in Rome.
Books on Pompeo Batoni
Edgar Peters Bowron, Pompeo Batoni: a Complete Catalog of his Paintings, New Haven, 2016.
Edgar Peters Bowron and Peter Björn Kerber, Pompeo Batoni: Prince of Painters in Eighteenth-Century Rome, exh. cat., New Haven, 2007.
Edmund Poole, ed., Music, Men and Manners in France and Italy, 1770, Being the Journal Written by Charles Burney, London 1969.