by Silvia Danesi Squarzina
In the first decades of the seventeenth century, the Giustiniani family, of Genovese origin, gathered together an exceptional collection of nearly six hundred paintings and over one thousand two hundred ancient statues in their Roman residence, almost opposite the San Luigi dei Francesi church.
Up to now the merit for this important collection has gone to the Marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani (b. Scio, 13th Sept. 1564, d. Rome, 27th Dec. 1637); new inventory documentation recovered by Silvia Danesi Squarzina reconstructs the origins of the collection and the role played by the elder brother of Vincenzo, Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani (b. Scio, 5th June 1554, d. Rome 27th March 1621). The papal treasurer, he was also Papal ambassador in Bologna from 1606 to 1611 and patron of the Carraccis and Caravaggio, who painted his portrait. There were, in all, fifteen Caravaggio paintings in the Giustiniani collection. Among these were Amore Vittorioso
, now in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin and Incredulità di San
Tommaso, currently housed in the Bildergalerie von Sanssouci, Potsdam.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century the collection was broken up.
The King of Prussia acquired over 160 paintings,
the most important of which were destined for museums in Berlin.
Today the Berlin Gemäldegalerie houses 43 paintings from the Giustinani collection while other
works are to be found in Potsdam’s Neues Palais and Bildergalerie Sanssouci.
Further examples can be seen in the National Gallery, London, the Hermitage Museum, St.Petersburg and
the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
More paintings from the collection have been traced to collections and museums in Europe and the United States
The database presented here uses the inventories of Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani,
as researched by Silvia Danesi Squarzina; the inventory entitled:
‘Entrata della Guardarobba’, compiled between 1600 and 1611 (State Archives of Rome, Giustiniani estate, b.15) and the
inventory compiled in 1621 (State Archives of Rome, public notaries of court AC, office 8, vol. 1302, Rainaldo Buratti).
For some of the paintings, the database also includes references to the
inventory of Vincenzo Giustiniani compiled in 1638 (State Archives of Rome, Giustiniani estate, portfolio 16) as researched by Luigi Salerno.
The two inventories of Benedetto Giustiniani provide only a limited number of artists’ names but by comparing these two with the 1638 inventory of his younger brother and heir, Vincenzo Giustiniani, numerous other works have been identified.
The results of this cross-referencing of inventory data, published in 1997-98 (DANESI SQUARZINA S.,
“The collections of Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani. Part 1”,
Documents for the History of Collecting.
Published with assistance from the Provenance Index of the Getty Information Institute in The Burlington Magazine, 1136, CXXXIX, November 1997, pp. 766-791.DANESI SQUARZINA S.,
“The collections of Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani.
Part II”, Documents for the History of Collecting, Published with assistance from the Provenance Index of the Getty Information Institute, in The Burlington Magazine 1139, CXL, February 1998, pp. 102-118)have been used in compiling the database.
The experimental value of the database, conceived by Irene Baldriga, should be underlined: its aim is that of providing a flexible instrument suitable for research on (and within) different inventories compiled at different times for the same collection.
The Giustiniani collection is particularly apt for research of this kind; it is unique in that the largest and most important inventory, that of 1638, was compiled by an expert. As a result (and due also to the high quality of the collection), it constitutes an unrivalled index on European art in the seventeenth century.
Essential bibliography relative to the inventories used in the database
. For a complete bibliography, see DANESI SQUARZINA S., edited by, Caravaggio e i Giustiniani, toccar con mano una collezione del Seicento, Exhibition Catalogue, Rome, Palazzo Giustiniani, January - May 2001, Berlin, Altes Museum, June - September 2001. Published Milan 2001 (edition in German language, Milan 2001).
SALERNO, L., “The Picture Gallery of Vincenzo Giustiniani I : Introduction”, in The Burlington Magazine, 682, 1960, pp. 21-27; Idem: “The Picture Gallery of Vincenzo Giustiniani II: The Inventory, part I”, in The Burlington Magazine, 684, 1960, pp. 93-104, Idem: “The Picture Gallery of Vincenzo Giustiniani III: The Inventory, part II”, in The Burlington Magazine, CII, 685, 1960, pp. 135-148.
DANESI SQUARZINA 
DANESI SQUARZINA S., “I Giustiniani e l'Oratorio dei Filippini” in Filippo Neri nella Roma della Controriforma, Atti del convegno di studi (Roma, 2 dicembre 1994) in Storia dell’Arte, 85, 1995, pp. 369-394.
DANESI SQUARZINA 
DANESI SQUARZINA S., “Caravaggio e i Giustiniani” in Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, la vita e le opere attraverso i documenti, Atti del Convegno internazionale di studi, a cura di S. Macioce, M. Gallo, M. Pupillo, (Roma, Palazzo Giustiniani, 5-6 ottobre 1995), Roma 1996, pp. 94-121.
DANESI SQUARZINA 
DANESI SQUARZINA S., “The collections of Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani. Part 1”, Documents for the History of Collecting. Published with assistance from the Provenance Index of the Getty Information Institute in The Burlington Magazine, 1136, CXXXIX, November 1997, pp. 766-791.
DANESI SQUARZINA [1998a]
DANESI SQUARZINA S., “The collections of Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani. Part II”, Documents for the History of Collecting, Published with assistance from the Provenance Index of the Getty Information Institute, in The Burlington Magazine 1139, CXL, February 1998, pp. 102-118.
DANESI SQUARZINA [1998b]
DANESI SQUARZINA S., “Dipinti inediti di Francesco Albani” in Ars, 2, 6 (7), 1998, pp. 78-87.
DANESI SQUARZINA [1998c]
DANESI SQUARZINA S., “Natura morta e collezionismo a Roma nella prima metà del Seicento. Il terreno di elaborazione dei generi” in Storia dell’Arte, 93-94, 1998, pp. 266-291.
DANESI SQUARZINA [1999a]
DANESI SQUARZINA S., “Frammenti dell’antico S. Pietro in una collezione del primo Seicento” in Arte d’Occidente. Studi di Storia dell’Arte in onore di Angiola Maria Romanini, Roma 1999, vol. III, pp. 1187-1197.
DANESI SQUARZINA [1999b]
DANESI SQUARZINA S., “A ‘Agar and the angel’ by Carel Philips Spierinck in Potsdam” in The Burlington Magazine, 1155, CXLI, 1999, pp. 349-352.
DANESI SQUARZINA-CAPODURO 
DANESI SQUARZINA S., CAPODURO L., “Nuove date e nuovi nomi per le incisioni della ‘Galleria Giustiniana’” in Studi di storia dell’arte in onore di Denis Mahon, a cura di M.G. Bernardini, S. Danesi Squarzina, C. Strinati, Milano 2000, pp. 153-164.
DANESI SQUARZINA 
DANESI SQUARZINA S., a cura di, Caravaggio e i Giustiniani, toccar con mano una collezione del Seicento, Catalogo della Mostra, Roma, Palazzo Giustiniani, Gennaio - Maggio 2001, Berlino, Altes Museum, Giugno - Settembre 2001, Milano 2001 (ed. in lingua tedesca, Milano 2001).
DANESI SQUARZINA 
DANESI SQUARZINA S., Gli inventari della Collezione Giustiniani, in corso di pubblicazione.
Summary of contents
DANESI SQUARZINA 
In 1994, the discovery of the inventories of Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani was made known in an article which reconstructs his character, his official positions and his relationship with the oratory of the Filippini family and the church of S. Maria in Vallicella. As a result, his fundamental role as a patron of Caravaggio emerges, a fact previously overlooked.
The rediscovered inventory of the “guardarobba” gives the description of a lost portrait by Caravaggio of a seated Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani; a study of the writing of the cloakroom servant dates it after September 1601. It goes on to document the relationship between Benedetto and the cardinals of the so-called “Catholic Reform” and the pauper orders as well as his correspondence with Federico Borromeo and his choice of religious vocation based on charity relief and reform, both of which were in decline in civil society. It goes on to show his passion for art collection and his strong influence, direct or indirect, in the churches which were to display works by Caravaggio.
The cohabitation with his brother Marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani in their residence at San Luigi dei Francesi and the intellectual understanding they shared allow us to hypothesise on a relationship strained by supporting, publicising and encouraging the artwork of Caravaggio. It was also the authority and power of his brother within the Curia that allowed Marquis Vincenzo, with his concrete vision of art, to favour and condition the entire cultural scene in Rome in the first part of the seventeenth century.
DANESI SQUARZINA 
During the1995 conference, the presentation centred on the distinction between Caravaggio paintings commissioned by Cardinal Benedetto (including Cristo con gli
apostoli nell’orto degli ulivi, in Berlin’s Kaiser Friedrich Museum, S.
Gerolamo, S. Agostino, una Maddalena nuda scapigliata nel deserto con un Cristo
in mano) ) and those owned by Marquis Vincenzo.
In the two articles that appeared in The Burlington Magazine (with funding from the Getty Provenance Index), Benedetto Giustiniani’s
guardarobba ” inventory (1600 onwards) and post mortem (1621) di Benedetto
Giustiniani. inventory (1621) were published. Cross-referencing these with the 1638 inventory which followed the death of Vincenzo Giustiniani (Luigi Salerno 1960), a complete description of the collection was reconstructed including many new discoveries such as the statue of Christ by Michelangelo, Flemish and Dutch works and paintings by Carracci and Albani.
. This almost certainly had a strong influence on Caravaggio’s imaginary visuals, starting with the nocturnes of Cambiaso and the paintings of Tiziano.
DANESI SQUARZINA 
The appearance of fifteen Caravaggio paintings in the family inventories gives the name Giustiniani a primary importance. Rather than discussing Caravaggio’s own sense of piety, it is vital to refer to his abrupt transition from painter of minor, laical works
“da stanza” stanza to artist of works central to theological debate such as Incredulità di San
Tommaso, a factor determined by the influence of his most important patrons.
Caravaggio’s interest in Michelangelo, already noted by art historians for some time, can now be reassessed in the light of Marquis Vincenzo’s writings on Buonarroti and the discovery of a Michelangelo statue in the Giustiniani collection.
. Research undertaken for the Giustiniani exhibition confirmed without doubt that
l’Incoronazione di spine, came from the Giustiniani collection; this important work can thus be traced to the years before it left Rome. Careful study of the inventories and descriptions of the size of the work clears up any doubts expressed by Salerno as to the Giustiniani provenance of the painting, today to be found in Vienna.
Anche per il San Gerolamo di
Gerolamo from the 1793 Giustiniani inventory. Reuniting the five surviving Caravaggio paintings from the original fifteen as part of the exhibition in Palazzo Giustiniani allowed art historians to make valuable comparisons in style and technique.
What with work completed up to now and a book which assembles the Giustiniani inventories up to the 19th century as well as numerous new documents (currently in the process of publication by Einaudi publishers), Adolfo Venturi’s tradition of the Sapienza school of study continues through his successors. This tradition is based on close attention to (and frequent use of) archival documents to better understand and interpret works of art. Such documents constitute an essential and irreplaceable part of our work as art historians.
Database of the paintings of Benedetto Giustiniani
Sira Francesca De Vanna
Other documents are currently being researched or are in the process of publication. The research team coordinated by Silvia Danesi Squarzina is: Luisa Capoduro, Irene Baldriga, Loredana Lorizzo, Cecilia Mazzetti di Pietralata, Belinda Granata, Francesca Profili and Daniela Baldascini.