Upon his elevation to the cardinalate in 1690, Gianfrancesco Albani began to take on a key role in the art policy of the State of the Church, as much in Rome as in the city where he was born, Urbino. As cardinal he anticipated various aspects that became central when he rose to the papal throne as Clement XI (1700–1721): his interest in Raphael and the Vatican Stanze, his relationship with academies and the attention he reserved for the Marche territory.
The research presented in this volume, which developed out of the discovery, at the University of Urbino, of a marble portrait of Albani made by Domenico Guidi in 1692, aims to offer an initial contextualisation of Albani’s relationship with the arts, and in particular his collecting activity and ties to a few particular painters and sculptors he met while a prelate. To these he entrusted, once he became pope, the artistic direction of Clementine Rome and the launch of a ‘second Renaissance’ in Urbino. First and foremost, Carlo Maratti.