Pietro Fachetti (Mantua c. 1535-Rome 1619)
Portrait of Eleonora Orsini Sforza, c 1605-1610
Oil on Canvas, 112 x 85cm, 134 x 107cm, in a Cassetta style frame.
A notable work of art of a member of the prominent Medici dynasty. This painting has been attributed to Pietro Fachetti after academic research and, comparisons with portraits of Eleonora Orsini Sforza, confirm her as the sitter along with the inscription in the upper left corner that reads: 'Eleonora Orsini Sforza, Duchess of Segni and Countess of Santa Fiora ('D(onn)a Leonora Orsina Isforzza').
It is known that her personal life was somewhat turbulent, her mother being supposedly murdered by her father, and upon her marriage was forced to escape the jealousy and violence of her own husband on several occasions until seeking refuge in the Orsini Castle at Bracciano with an army of 100 men until papal approval to divorce her husband was obtained in 1621. Despite this volatile family history Eleonora cultivated her interest and skills in the arts, both as an artist and a collector, a composer and musician, she was admired for her elegance and as a protagonist of the Roman cultural panorama until her death in 1634.
Stylistically this painting shows the influence of the acclaimed portraitist Scipione Pulzone, who had died in 1598, as well as the work of Ottavio Leoni. These considerations, the taste for details, particularly evident in the description of Eleonora's dress and laces, and the realism of her portrait points to the attribution to the painter Pietro Fachetti.
Fachetti entered the service of the Gonzaga family, was sent to Rome to improve his skills and update his style in 1575, and he then entered the service of Paolo Giordano I Orsini, Eleonora's father. His reputation was established as evidenced by a commission of a portrait of Sixtus V with the Architect Domenico Fontana, an official portrait of the pope to be displayed in the newly built Biblioteca Vaticana. In the span of a few years Fachetti distinguished himself as a skilled portraitist of the Roman aristocracy. Despite the appreciation of his contemporaries Fachetti's production is now little known. Only a few of his paintings are signed and thus constitute a solid starting point to reconstruct his production, while the attribution to him of some portraits is still controversial. Also a fact noted is that Fachetti, according to Dr Barbara Furlotti, in her academic research on this painting, (09/15) states that to the best of her knowledge, Fachetti is the only artist who is recorded in documents to have portrayed Eleonora Orsini in painting.