Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Birthday, Salvator Rosa!

        Salvator Rosa was an Italian Baroque painter, poet and printmaker born (June 20) in 1615 best known for being a proto-Romantic. Initially, his father had wanted Rosa to become either a priest of lawyer, and entered him into the convent of the Somaschi Fathers. Rosa, however, felt that art was his calling and began secretly working under the tutelage of his uncle to learn about painting. He then moved on to study under his brother-in-law who was, in fact, a pupil of Jusepe de Ribera, an eminent Spanish Tenebrist painter, before coming under the apprenticeship of either Aneillo Falcone or Ribera himself. It was during his apprenticeship that his father died, leaving the family destitute and Rosa without financial support.
        Rosa earned money by selling his paintings cheaply through private dealers as he moved back and forth between Rome, Naples, and Florence. During this time he began producing the forerunners of Romantic paintings. Picturesque views of mountains and beaches were among his early landscapes for which he became well known. As well as painting, Rosa also wrote multiple satirical plays which gained him both favor and enemies, including Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the sculptor who originally designed the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome.
        Rosa continued to paint and write until his final days, having fallen ill with dropsy, and he died in 1673. His legacy was, most prominently, the beginning stages of romantic painting, evinced by the picturesque works of J.M.W. Turner, who arrived in the art world about a century later. It is almost poetic, in fact, that Rosa should be remembered as one of the fathers of the romantic painting style, as his birthday just so happens to fall on the first day of the summer equinox. If you’d like an up close and personal example of Rosa’s work, especially today, the GMOA happens to have one of his paintings within the Samuel H. Kress Foundation Collection. 

Salvator Rosa--Saint Simon the Apostle

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