Velázquez painted this striking portrait of Cristoforo Segni, Maggiordomo to Pope Innocent X, around 1650, during his second trip to Rome, a period in his career when he created some of his greatest work in the realm of portraiture. As Maggiordomo to His Holiness from 1645 to 1653, Cristoforo Segni was a high-ranking member of the clergy appointed by the Pope to oversee the apostolic palaces. This perceptive portrayal of a man well known to Velázquez is testament to the artist's ability to capture character and to his technical virtuosity.
Other subsidiary parts of the painting were executed by the Cremonese painter Pietro Martire Neri, who according to Antonio Palomino worked alongside Velázquez during his second sojourn in the Eternal City, perhaps because the portrait was left unfinished when Velázquez left Rome.
Diego Velazquez’s portrait of Cristoforo Segni will be offered as a part of Sotheby’s Old Master & 19th Century Paintings Evening Auction on 5 July at Sotheby’s London as a part of the Summer Season.