Born in the Marchigian town of Camerano in 1625 he was a child prodigy who became, as a teenager, a pupil of Rome’s most prominent painter, Andrea Sacchi (1599–1661) who introduced him to key patrons such as Pope Urban VIII Barberini. Throughout his career Maratti’s works synthesized the influence of respected classicizing artists such as Raphael, Carracci and Domenichino into an up-to-date rhetorical baroque idiom as can be seen in The Sacrifice of Noah (Ball State University Museum, Muncie, Indiana) and the Nativity of 1655 painted for the gallery of Pope Alexander VII Chigi in the Palazzo del Quirinale, Rome. Such was Maratti’s success that he quickly attracted an international clientele which included British aristocrats making the Grand Tour such as the diarist John Evelyn, for whom he painted a still life, and Sir Thomas Isham, whose portrait by Maratti still hangs in the family seat (Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire). But of all his foreign patrons the most illustrious was the French ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV, for whom he painted, appropriately, Apollo Chasing Daphne (Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels). After the death of his friend and rival artist Pietro da Cortona (1596–1669) Maratti was the undisputed chief painter in Rome, a position he maintained until his death, aged 88 in 1711.
Carlo Maratti is best known for his altarpieces and devotional works. However, his repertoire was varied: he collaborated with Mario dei Fiori (1603–1673) on still lifes animated with putti, with Gaspard Dughet (1615–1675), brother-in-law to Nicolas Poussin, on landscapes, he painted mythologies, portraits (including those of his wife, daughter and teacher Sacchi) and allegories, none more celebrated than the Marchese Niccolò Maria PallaviciniGuided to the Temple of Virtue by Apollo with a Self-Portrait of the Artist (Stourhead House, Wiltshire) completed in 1699.
In addition to his fame as an artist, Maratti gave his name to a type of frame popular in England in the late seventeenth and eighteenth century. Works by Maratti were avidly collected by British collectors in the eighteenth century, notably by Sir Robert Walpole for Houghton Hall in Norfolk.
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Books on Carlo Maratti
Stella Rudolph and Ian Kennedy, Carlo Maratti, exh. cat. New York, 2017.
Evelina Borea and Carlo Gasparri, L’Idea del Bello: Viaggio per Roma nel Seicento con Giovan Petro Bellori, exh. cat., Rome, 2000.
Stella Rudolph, Niccolò Maria Pallavicini: l’Ascesa al Tempio della Virtu Attraverso il Mecenatismo, Forli, 1995.
Stella Rudolph, ‘An Instance of Time thwarted by Love: Maratti’s portrait of an unusual lady’ in Labyrinthos, no. 21-24, 1992-1993.
Giovan Pietro Bellori, The Lives of Modern Painters, Sculptors and Architects, 1672, trans. Alice Sedgwick Wohl, New York, 2005.