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Brothers Emperor Joseph II and Emperor Leopold II

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna



Michael Yonan explains the political significance of Rome references in this painting:

"[W]here the painting reveals its deepest meanings is in Joseph's relationship to Rome, both literally through the view of Roman architecture behind him and symbolically through the figure of Roma Enthroned at the canvas's right. Although this statue appears repeatedly in works by Batoni to signify Rome, it here serves a special purpose. Roma is the scene's ultimate conceptual authority, the figure that grants Joseph his authority as Holy Roman Emperor, and pictorially we know this since she sits above him and gazes at him from on high, while Joseph leans on Roma for support. Her closeness to Saint Peter's as well as links her to modern Rome's highest authority, a connection that lends the statue a hint of papal overtone. While Roma holds the standard attributes of her power, the orb and spear, her position in relation to Joseph indivates that she is transmitting their symnolic power to him; she faces him, and the arm holding the orb extends in his direction. The orb, that long-standing sign of empire, becomes in Batoni's composition a gift from Roma to Joseph."

Michael E. Yonan, "Pompeo Batoni Between Rome and Vienna," Source: Notes in the History of Art, vol. 26, no. 2 (Winter 2007): 34.

About the Artist

Born: Lucca, Italy, 25 January 1708
Died: Rome, 4 October 1787
Nationality: Italian