Carlo Maratta or Maratti (13 May 1625 – Rome, 15 December 1713) was an Italian painter, active mostly in Rome, and known principally for his classicizing paintings executed in a Late Baroque Classical manner. Although he is part of the classical tradition stemming from Raphael, he was not exempt from the influence of Baroque painting and particularly in his use of color.
Born in Camerano (Marche), then part of the Papal States, he went to Rome in 1636, accompanied by Don Corintio Benicampi. He became an apprentice in the studio of Andrea Sacchi. It was at this time that the debate between Sacchi and Pietro da Cortona took place at the Accademia di San Luca. Maratta’s painting at this time was closely allied with the classicism of Sacchi and was far more restrained and composed than the Baroque exuberance of Pietro da Cortona’s paintings. Like Sacchi, his paintings were inspired by the works of the great painters from Parma and Bologna: Annibale Carracci, Guercino, Guido Reni, Francesco Albani and Giovanni Lanfranco.
Pope Alexander VII (reigned 1655–1667) commissioned many paintings from him including ‘The Visitation’ (1656) for Santa Maria della Pace and the ‘Nativity’ in the gallery of the Quirinal Palace where he worked under the direction of Cortona who selected him for this task.
From 1660, he built up a private client base amongst wealthy patrons of Europe, establishing the most prominent art studio in Rome of his time and, after the death of Bernini, he became the leading artist in Rome. During the 1670s he was commissioned by Pope Clement X to fresco the ceiling of the salone in the Palazzo Altieri, the iconographic programme for ‘The Triumph of Clemency’ was devised by Bellori.
His major works of this period included: ‘The Appearance of the Virgin to St. Philip Neri’ (c.1675); ‘The Virgin with Saints Carlo Borromeo and Ignatius of Loyola, and Angels’ (c.1685) for the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella (c. 1675); and ‘The Assumption of the Virgin with Doctors of the Church’ (1686) in Santa Maria del Popolo. It was not, as his critics claimed, numerous depictions of the Virgin that earned him the nickname Carluccio delle Madonne or ‘Little Carlo of the Madonnas’, but his gifted interpretation of this theme. Other works included an altarpiece, ‘The Death of St Francis Xavier’ (1674–9) in the right transept of the Church of the Gesu.
Maratta was a well known portrait painter. He painted Sacchi (c. 1655), Cardinal Antonio Barberini (c. 1660), Pope Clement IX (1669) and a self-portrait (c. 1695). He also painted numerous English sitters during their visits to Rome on the Grand Tour, having sketched antiquities for John Evelyn as early as 1645.
With a general decline in patronage around the beginning of the eighteenth century and largely due to the economic downturn, Maratta turned his hand to painting restoration, including works by Raphael and Carracci. His sculptural designs included figures of the Apostles for San Giovanni in Laterano. He continued to run his studio into old age even when he could no longer paint.