Filippo Archinto, Archbishop Of Milan – Titian


Filippo Archinto was born about 1500, or a little earlier, of a well known Milanese family. After studying and practising as a lawyer, he entered the church and became prominent under Paul III, with whose policies and ambitions he identified him-self, and was made Archbishop of Milan. He for-warded the cause of the Jesuits and was for a time governor of Rome under Paul IV. From 1554 to 1556 he was sent as a legate to Venice, when Titian may have painted his portrait.

He lives in a famous anecdote which is repeated by Bernhard Berenson in the catalogue of the John G. Johnson Collection. I t seems that when governor of Rome he was called upon to decide who was the father of a certain child. Of the two claimants one was a German and one a Spaniard. Archinto caused food and wine to be brought and bade the child eat and drink. This he did but would drink only water, whereupon the Archbishop told the German that it was no child of his, because, had he German blood in his veins, he would never drink water when wine was within reach.

Archinto died an exile in Bergamo in 1558. Another portrait of him is in America, in the John G. Johnson Collection at Philadelphia. In the painting belonging to Mr. Johnson, which is precisely the same pose line for line, the sitter has not the vigorous aspect which the Altman portrait shows, and there is a peculiar transparent veil over half the picture covering almost all the face, which may refer, says Mr. Berenson in the Johnson catalogue, to the comparative neglect and obscurity in which he regarded himself as living in 1556. The Altman picture Mr. Berenson would place two or three years earlier.