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Unknown Pope or Cardinal (possibly Innocent XI, 1611–1689)

Photo credit: The Trustees of the British Museum

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This image can be used for non-commercial research or private study purposes, and other exceptions to copyright permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, as amended and revised.

For all other types of use please visit the owning collection’s website for more information about permitted uses and licensing.


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Although listed in the Museum’s records as ‘unknown pope or Cardinal’, this is almost certainly a portrait of Pope Innocent XI (1611–1689), since it is similar to other portraits known to be of him. Born into a banking family as Benedetto Odescalchi, he studied civil law and then became involved with the papal court. He was appointed bishop of Novara in 1650. Although a strong candidate, he was not elected Pope until 1676 because of opposition from the French King Louis XIV.

British Museum


  • Date

    17th C

  • Medium

    oil on canvas

  • Measurements

    28.6 x 22.9 cm

  • Accession number


  • Acquisition method

    gift from Dr Andrew Gifford, 1761


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British Museum

Great Russell Street, London, Greater London WC1B 3DG England

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