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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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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

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