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Glory of Saint Chrysogonus

copy after Barbieri Giovan Francesco called Guercino

(Cento 1591 - Bologna 1666)

This work entered the Borghese Collection in 1932. It is a copy of the painting which once decorated the ceiling of the church of San Crisogono in Trastevere in Rome, which was executed by Guercino and is today preserved at Lancaster House in London. It depicts the glory of Saint Chrysogonus. The Roman vicar is here portrayed while he ascends to Heaven among a throng of angels playing music. On the left, an angel with a palm reminds the faithful of the saint’s martyrdom.

Object details

secolo XIX
oil on canvas
57 x 40 cm

Salvator Rosa, 66.5 x 50.5 x 4 cm


Purchased by Italian state, 1932 (Della Pergola 1955).

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 2000 ENEA (diagnostics)


This small canvas was purchased on 18 June 1932 for 5,000 lire (Della Pergola 1955). It is a small copy of the painting depicting the Glory of Saint Chrysogonus  (see Turner 2017) which Guercino executed for the ceiling of the church in Trastevere named after the saint, which was restored by Cardinal Scipione Borghese. Scipione in fact commissioned the artist from Cento to paint a canvas with the Roman martyr’s ascent into Heaven. In 1808, the work was sold to the artist and merchant Alexander Day (1773-1841), who in turn ceded it to George Leveson-Gower, second Marquis of Stafford, who had it mounted on one of the ceilings of his noble residence.

Paola della Pergola (1955) deemed the work in question to be of poor quality. She called it a copy – and not a sketch – of the original in London, as is suggested by the absence of a drawing and colour in the four corners, which in the church were covered by the canvas’s framing and were therefore not reproduced by the anonymous copyist.

A similar work from the Monte di Pietà collection, which was once considered a sketch of the canvas held in London, is preserved today at the National Gallery of Ancient Art in Palazzo Barberini.

Antonio Iommelli

  • A. De Rinaldis, La Galleria Borghese in Roma, Roma 1937, p. 29. 
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, p. 51, n. 82. 
  • L. Salerno, I dipinti del Guercino, Roma 1988, p. 169. 
  • S. Lucantoni, Il Museo senza confini. Dipinti ferraresi del Rinascimento nelle raccolte romane, a cura di J. Bentini e S. Guarino, Milano 2002, p. 225, n. 53. 
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 183. 
  • N. Turner, The Paintings of Guercino. A Revised and Expanded Catalogue raisonné, Roma 2017, p. 377, n. 111.