Jacopo Zucchi (Firenze (?) 1541 ca. – Roma 1596 ca.)
Portrait of Clelia Farnese

about 1570

Oil on panel

cm 49,5 x 37,8

Palazzo Barberini

Inv: Inv. n. 2566

An elaborate hairstyle adorned with flowers, a lace ruff and a necklace with family crests are the attributes used by Jacopo Zucchi to depict Clelia Farnese. Illegitimate daughter of Cardinal Alessandro, one of the most influential exponents of the Roman Curia, the young woman has always lived at the center of the lively social life of the city, made up of feasts and banquets.
Jacopo Zucchi, commissioned by Giovan Giorgio Cesarini, Clelia’s first husband, painted an iconic and timeless image: the beauty of the woman, a dowry for which she had been celebrated as the most lovable lady in Rome by tourists and poets, is rendered noble by the icy look, the delicate red cheeks and the rich dress.
After the first marriage, ended with the death of the groom in 1585, Clelia became the lover of Ferdinando de’ Medici, cardinal protector of Jacopo Zucchi. This clandestine relationship entailed the forced removal of the woman from Rome: in 1587, she married the angry and violent Marco Pio, Count of Sassuolo, and abandoned all sorts of worldly habits, also dedicating herself to the administration of her new city.