Putti Fighting

120 x 152 cm; oil on canvas (FC 257)

The attribution of this excellently preserved painting was recently returned to Reni, and is linked to an important episode in his life. It is in fact the “famous fight between Amoretti and Baccarini” donated by the artist to the Marchese Facchinetti of Bologna. Although already famous, it seems the painter was  imprisoned after a quarrel with the Spanish Ambassador. According to Malvasia’s biography (1678), the Marchese succeeded in getting him out of prison. Once referred to as “Plebeian putti fighting noble putti”, it is an early representation of social struggle portrayed through classical metaphor. The painting, also known through two copies, came to Rome in 1671 with the dowry of Violante Facchinetti, who married Giovan Battista Pamphilj, the nephew of Pope Innocent X.