Originally Posted by PiousTemplar
I was just vaugely reading about Innocent X.
I went to a wikipedia page on him and it says that "Guido Reni's archangel Michael (Capuchin church of Santa Maria della Concezione, Rome)" depicts the Archangel Michael trampling Satan, with 'vividly recognisable features of Innocent X'.
I seriously have series problems with what this is trying to suggest.
I think the rest of the wikipedia article makes it fairly clear that there were personal issues between Guido Reni and Pope Innocent X. At that time in European society one didn't work as an artist or composer without having a patron that was either extremely wealthy or the Church. I don't think there was really a concept of independant artists working on their own selling pieces as they went along
Reni's patron was the Barberini family, which according to the wikipedia article, included Pope Urban VIII. The article also says that this was the height of the Barberini family's power, so you see Innocent came after Urban VIII. I think it's certainly possible that their artist would be a little touchy if he also sees his patron family's power on the wane.
Also, before his ascension to the Papal Throne Innocent X accused Reni's Barberini patron of embezzlement. After Innocent X became Pope, Barberini fled to France.
At this same time there was a tidal change in Papal political alliances. Innocent X became more favorable towards Spain and began to ignore France. If the Barberinis or Reni had any special ties to France this could also serve to explain why Reni had ill feelings towards the Pope.
So, Reni seemed to have been hurt and offended by Innocent's accusations towards his employer and eventually, perhaps, the change in policy towards France. It seems safe to say that Reni was not a fan of Pope Innocent X and it does not surprise me that he would use his artistic talent to take pokes at the pope. Don't forget that the papacy at that time was overtly political in its dealings with foreign powers, simony and favoritism seemed to be the rule of the day among royal courts and even in the papal court. Some royal and wealthy families had scores of cardinals and priests as well as Popes.
Popes weren't above getting involved in this stuff and playing favorites. If the Barberinis were on the outs then it doesn't surprise me that their artist-in-residence would take an opportunity to take a jab at somebody that had been a thorn in their side for a number of years.