Pietro Paolini (Italian, 1603—1681/82) was born and raised in the Tuscan city of Lucca. At age 17 he embarked on a ten-year apprenticeship, spending eight years in Rome and two in Venice, before returning to Lucca. He became the leading artist there and opened a school for painting in 1642.
Paolini’s paintings included works with musical or allegorical themes, which appealed to the aristocrats of Lucca. He is best known for his portraits of actors, musicians, poets, and other artists. Many of these are done in his trademark style, featuring an otherwise unidentified sitter in a small, deeply shadowed room, surrounded by a few select items of personal value, and being just interrupted by the viewer’s presence.