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Raffaelo Menicucci
'famous throughout the world'


Engraving, 1625

Menicucci was born in Tuscany. He was jester at the Medici court in Florence before moving to Rome and becoming jester to Pope Urban VIII. He had a natural ability to produce comic effects and witticisms and compose spontaneous verses. He was also renowned as a social climber obsessed with his own fame, which explains the Latin inscription on this print.

Of the two portraits made of him a few years later by French artists in Rome, Claude Mellan's engraving has the same boastful inscription, and Valentin de Boulogne's painting makes reference to his posing as a Count. Leoni's portrait is the most sympathetic and genial, and the only one in which the jester is wearing - no doubt spuriously - the hat and habit of a cleric.

Given by John Charrington 1933