“Prospetto della Porta del Popolo in Roma”
Prospect of the ‘Porta del Popolo‘, designed but never built.
Signed and dated “Antonio Presottini delineo’ ad 1797“.
Note the Papal coats of arms of Pope Pius VI (25 December 1717 – 29 August 1799), born Count Giovanni Angelo Braschi.
Pope Pius VI (1717 – 1799), born Count Giovanni Angelo Braschi, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 15 February 1775 to his death in 1799.
Pius VI put the papal finances on a firmer basis; drained the marshy lands near Città della Pieve, Perugia, Spoleto, and Trevi; deepened the harbours of Porto d’Anzio and Terracina; added a new sacristy to the Basilica of St. Peter; completed the Museum of Pio-Clementino, and enriched it with many costly pieces of art; restored the Via Appia; and drained the greater part of the Pontine Marshes.
This important restauration plan included the magnificent Porta del Popolo in Piazza del Popolo. In 1798 Pius VI commissioned the project of the New Prospectus of Porta del Popolo with his family coat of arms (Braschi), in order to leave a visible sign of his papacy in the architecture of Rome itself.
The Prospetto di Porta del Popolo is one of the project of this immense Rome renovation project, an important evidence of a peculiar time in the history of the papacy in Rome.
Unfortunately, the project was never realised. In 1796 French troops commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte defeated the papal troops and occupied the Papal States. In 1798, upon his refusal to renounce his temporal power, Pius was taken prisoner and transported to France. He died one year later in Valence. His reign is the fourth-longest in papal history, being over two decades.