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Italian Renaissance Learning Resources

In collaboration with the National Gallery of Art

Farnese, Alessandro


(b Valentano, nr Viterbo, 7 Oct 1520; d 2 March 1589). Son of Pier Luigi Farnese. He was the most important private patron of mid-16th century Rome. He entered the Church very young and was made a cardinal at the age of 14 by his grandfather, Pope Paul III, although he was not ordained as a priest until 1564. In 1535 he was made Vice-Chancellor of the Church for life and was showered with lucrative benefices. Even after the death of Paul III in 1549, he remained one of Rome’s most powerful men, and his enormous wealth enabled him to commission an immense number of artistic projects, including the Villa Farnese at Caprarola and the church of Il Gesù in Rome.

Clare Robertson