Crespi was commissioned to paint this portrait of monumental proportions by Cardinal Prospero Lambertini, Archbishop of Bologna, for the Seminary Major of his city in 1739. The following year the Cardinal was elected pontiff with the name of Benedict XIV (pontiff from 1740 to 1758). The artist was therefore asked to alter the portrait because the Pope had expressed the desire to have it in Rome. The x-rays taken when it was being restored (1981) revealed the different stages of the composition up to its final version, which is considerably altered. In fact Crespi increased the size of the figure of the Pope, changed his attire and added accessories (the papal tiara) which bear witness to the papal role.