Paul Johnson

A Portrait of the Artist

Pompeo Batoni: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings

By Edgar Peters Bowron

Yale University Press 730pp in 2 vols £195 order from our bookshop

In the half-century between 1730 and 1780, about 3,500 members of the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish landowning class went on the grand tour, many of them finishing their travels with a visit to the studio of Pompeo Batoni (1708–87) in Rome.

Batoni was the son of a successful goldsmith and learned a lot from his father about precision work before deciding to set himself up as a painter. It was a less arduous and exacting, and a better-rewarded, profession. He originally worked in a variety of modes – classical mythology, Greek and Roman history, martyrology – before deciding that there was more money in portraits. During the middle period of his life he painted little else.

Sara Stewart


Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • In all seriousness: good for them. Our bulbous award gets a bad rap every year; delighted for ER to give something else a go.,
    • Don't me ,
    • RT : Never got round to posting this - my piece on biog/memoir of wonderful in latest issue of ,
    • To celebrate Paul Beatty winning the Booker, here's our review of The Sellout, to read for free: ,
    • Thomas Hardy's phrenologist tells him he will 'lead to no good' in a new book about his life in London ,
    • John Knox said that crowning a woman was akin to putting ‘a saddle upon the back of an unruly cow’. Tell that to Catherine de'Medici...,
    • RT : I 💕💕 the Pulpit article in September's about rereading books at different times of life.,