Giovanni Paolo Panini was admitted into the Congregazione in 1719 at the age of 28 years. He was already an important figure in the Roman art world, being since the same year a professor at the Accademia di San Luca.
Panini had been trained in the decoration of the palaces and was familiar with trompe l'oeil techniques. In painting, he specialized in capricci of ruins and ancient monuments. Unlike the Venetian vedutisti he reconstructed the ancient sites in whimsical juxtapositions.
Panini executed several paintings showing the interior of the Pantheon. The earliest known, dated 1732, is for sale by Sotheby's in New York on 29 January. This oil on canvas 119 x 98 cm is estimated $ 3M, lot 91.
Various characters are busy to pray, beg or chat in the great hall. They are scattered for accentuating the grandiose effect. The artist is sensitive to the geometrical feat of this place where the inner diameter of the dome and the height of the oculus have exactly the same size, 43.3 m. The figures that appear in the opening of the vestibule and in the oculus are on the same scale.