Benedetto Pamphili

Benedetto Pamphili (often with the final long i orthography, Pamphilj) (25 April 1653 22 March 1730) was an Italian cardinal, patron of the arts, composer and librettist.


Pamphili was born in Rome on 25 April 1653 into the powerful Pamphili family.[1] His father was Camillo Pamphili who had also been a cardinal but renounced his post to marry Olimpia Aldobrandini.

Pamphili was Grand Prior of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in Rome from 1678 until Pope Innocent XI made him cardinal-deacon of Santa Maria in Portico in the consistory of 1 September 1681.[2]

He later opted for the tituli of Sant'Agata in Suburra, San Cesareo in Palatio, Santa Maria in Cosmedin and Santa Maria in Via Lata.

Innocent X made him Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura on 23 March 1685. He became Cardinal Legate of Bologna in 1690, cardinal protodeacon in 1693, as well as archpriest of the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and of San Giovanni in Laterano.

In 1704 he was made librarian of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana and archivist of the Archivio Segreto Vaticano. He died in 1730 and is buried at Sant'Agnese in Agone.


He was in the first rank of Rome's cultural and artistic life in the 17th and 18th centuries, as demonstrated by his belonging to the prestigious accademia dell'Arcadia, under the pseudonym Fenicio Larisseo.[3] He formed the major collection of Flemish paintings in the Galleria Doria Pamphilj, whose interior (by Carlo Fontana) and chapel he had built.

He was particularly interested and skilled in music, not only writing several libretti himself[4] for operas with music by (among others) Alessandro Scarlatti, but also gave hospitality and opportunity to several composers (such as Arcangelo Corelli, Giovanni Lorenzo Lulier, Alessandro Melani, Antonio Maria Bononcini and Carlo Francesco Cesarini, who all began their musical careers under his protection), funding publication and performances of their works.[5] His patronage was also expressed during George Frideric Handel's stay in Rome, when he struck up a lasting friendship with the composer and began an interesting correspondence with him.[6] Handel dedicated a series of cantatas to the cardinal, as well as the famous 1707 oratorio Trionfo del tempo e del disinganno, with a libretto by the cardinal.[7]

Works: libretti and scores


  1. Biography at Catholic Hierarchy
  2. The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church – Biographical Dictionary
  3. E. Weller, Index pseudonymorum : Worterbuch der Pseudonymen oder Verzeichniss aller Autoren, die sich falscher Namen bedienten, Falcke & Rossler, Leipzig 1856, p. 54
  4. S. Franchi, Drammaturgia romana. Repertorio bibliografico cronologico dei testi drammatici pubblicati a Roma e nel Lazio, Ed. di storia e letteratura, Roma 1988, pp. 588–589; Idem, Le impressioni sceniche. Dizionario bio-bigliografico degli editori e stampatori romani e laziali di testi drammatici e libretti per musica dal 1579 al 1800, Ed. di storia e letteratura, Roma 1994, p. 52; C. Sartori, I libretti italiani a stampa dalle origini al 1800, vol. IV, Bertola & Locatelli, Cuneo 1991, n. 6580.
  5. L. Montalto, Un mecenate in Roma barocca: il cardinale Benedetto Pamphili (1653–1730), Sansoni, Firenze 1955.
  6. H.J. Marx, "Händel in Rom. Seine Beziehung zu Benedetto card. Pamphilj", in Händel-Jahrbuch XXIX, 1983, pp. 107–118.
  7. Trionfo del tempo e del disinganno. Oratorio in due parti, libretto di Benedetto Pamphilij, musica di Georg Friedrich Handel, Ed. Teatro Regio, Torino 1998.

External links

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