Barberini Art Gallery


Facciata Barberini 1
Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13
Every day except Monday 08:30-19:00. The ticket office closes at 18:00. Closed on December 25th, January 1st, May 1st. Admission fee.

B. Passerotti, Macelleria

The Butcher’s Shop, together with the Fishmonger’s, is part of a series of four paintings that Bartolomeo Passerotti probably painted between 1578 and 1580. The paintings, one of the first examples of this genre in Italy, came from the collection of Ciriaco Mattei. The Butcher is described in great Flemish detail, whereas a marked irony characterizes the depiction of the characters; the two boys are given a humorous representation, usually reserved to depict the more humble trades. The work has been interpreted in a moralistic vein as an allegory against the temptations of the flesh and erotic passions, according to the dictates of Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti, ideologue of the Counter-Reformation, for whom such ridiculous paintings were able to transmit a veiled, moral message.

B. Passerotti, Pescheria

In the Fishmonger, as well as the Butcher in Palazzo Barberini, Bartolomeo Passerotti added his signature using the image of a small sparrow (passerotto in Italian), an allusion to his surname. The artist, attracted by many aspects of daily life and interested in still life, shows in this work his adherence to the descriptive Flemish style of painting. The canvas is full of detailed descriptions of nature; the fish world is presented in all its variety. On the left an old man is listening to the words of the woman who is holding a puffer fish; the presence of this curious animal, a compulsory item in the eclectic collections of the late sixteenth century, refers to Passerotti’s passion for museums of scientific curiosities. He himself had created a collection of bizarre and monstrous items in his home.

inv 1065 dia pmr 196651 B Passerotti suonatore di zufolo

Il Suonatore di zufolo, The Whistle Player, dated between 1585 and 1590, was part of the latter work by Bartolomeo Passerotti. The canvas is halfway between a group portrait and a genre scene with the representation of the three half-figures. The composition and accentuated mime gestures of the characters draw it closer to Flemish models. The interpretation of the subject has been varied and controversial. According to a number of nineteenth century hypotheses, the picture represents Pope Sixtus V and his family, but more recent studies reveal an allusion to the five senses. The awkward presence of dogs is a likely reference to the occupation of the characters portrayed.

S. Vouet, Buona Ventura

The Fortune Teller is the first documented work (1617) from the Roman period of the French painter Simon Vouet. The simplicity of the composition, centred on the three characters in half figure, their spatial location, the intense relationship of glances between the two young people seem to derive from the Caravaggio prototype in the Capitoline Museums; Vouet could easily have seen the painting by Caravaggio in the house of its owner, Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte. Vouet’s work differs from the canvas by Caravaggio in the figure of the old gypsy woman whose left hand robs the inexperienced young man whilst the popular gesture of mockery is made by the right hand.

How to get the step: Barberini Art Gallery

Via delle Quattro Fontane, 156-157, 00187 Roma, Italy


Find your current position or insert your starting address

Distance Units

Search the steps near you

GPS location and distance parameters are required