On 30 August 1502, Jacopo Pesaro – Bishop of Paphos – led the papal fleet provided by Pope Alexander IV to Venice for the war against the Turks in a successful campaign resulting in the capture of the island of Sant Maura.
This was a military triumph for both the Venetian-Papal coalition and the Pesaro family, as the captain-general of the Venetian fleet was Jacopo’s cousin, Benedetto. Jacopo subsequently had the victory immortalised in painting, and commissioned Titian for the work.
Depicted in this painting are Saint Peter, seated to the left with the keys to heaven at his feet; Jacopo kneeling in the middle and Pope Alexander on the right. The Pope commends Jacopo to Saint Peter, who raises his hand in a gesture of blessing. The helmet in the foreground and the galleys seen in the distance are references to the military victory, while the banner held by Jacopo bears the coat of arms of the Borgia and Pesaro families.
Housley, Norman. “Crusading Responses to the Turkish threat in Visual Culture, 1453-1519”. In Elizabeth Lapina, April Jehan Morris, Susanna a. Throop, and Laura J. Whatley eds., The Crusades and Visual Culture 202-222. London and New York: Routledge, 2015.
Titian, Jacopo Pesaro Being Presented by Pope Alexander VI to Saint Peter, 1508–11, oil on canvas, 147.8 x 188.7 cm, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp.