At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Francesco Solimena - painter

Neapolitan artist who influenced a generation


Francesco Solimena - a section from a self-portrait painted in around 1730
Francesco Solimena - a section from a self-portrait
painted in around 1730
Francesco Solimena, a prolific painter in the Baroque style who became one of the wealthiest and most influential artists in Europe, was born on this day in 1657 in Canale di Sereno, a village in Campania about 14km (9 miles) southeast of Avellino.

He spent most of his working life in Naples yet his fame spread far beyond and his work was in such demand among his wealthy patrons, including Prince Eugene of Savoy, Louis XIV of France and Pope Benedict XIII, that he acquired a considerable fortune, was given the title of baron and lived in a palace.

His workshop became effectively an academy, at the heart of the Naples cultural scene. Among many who trained there were the leading painters Francesco de Mura, Giuseppe Bonito, Corrado Giaquinto and Sebastiano Conca.

The Scottish portraitist Allan Ramsay was a pupil in his studio in around 1737-38.

Solimena’s own training came initially from his father, Angelo, a revered painter of frescoes, with whom he worked at the cathedral of Nocera in the province of Salerno, and at the church of San Domenico at Solofra, not far from his home village.  He often worked in Nocera later in life.

Solimena's spectacular Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple can be seen in the church of Gesù Nuovo in Naples
Solimena's spectacular Expulsion of Heliodorus from the
Temple
can be seen in the church of Gesù Nuovo in Naples
By the time he was 17, however, he had settled in Naples, where he worked in the studio of Francesco di Maria and later Giacomo del Po. Cardinal Vincenzo Orsini - the future Pope Benedict XIII - became his patron at an early stage of his career and encouraged him to become an artist rather than take religious orders.

He modeled his art on the exuberant style of the Roman Baroque master Luca Giordano, whose work he admired while he was engaged in decorating the Sacristy of San Paolo Maggiore. His classical influences are attributed to Pietro da Cortona. Others whose techniques he adopted include Massimo Stanzione, Giovanni Lanfranco and Mattia Preti.

Solimena painted many frescoes and altarpieces in Naples, and was in demand for celebrations of weddings and courtly occasions.  He favoured simple settings so that attention would be concentrated on the figures in his paintings and their dress, often highlighted by his placing of those figures in pools of light. His representation of figures often derived from the work of Annibale Carracci, Domenichino, and Raphael.

The Madonna and Child with San Gennaro that sold for $33,000 in 2017
The Madonna and Child with San
Gennaro
that sold for $33,000 in 2017
He painted frescoes in many of the city's most important churches, including the vast and spectacular Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple (1725) in the church of Gesù Nuovo.

He became the unchallenged head of the Neapolitan school of painting during the first half of the 1700s, following the death of Giordano, and his influence remained in the aesthetic of Naples for many years.

Before his death at age of 89, in 1747 in Barra, then an area of grand villas to the east of Naples, Solimena had become very wealthy and had influenced a vast new generation of painters.

Today, his works are held, among other places, in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery in London, and the Louvre Museum in Paris.

A Madonna and Child with San Gennaro by Solimena sold at auction in Rome in 2017 for $33,000 (about €28,700).

The Collegiata di San Michele Arcangelo in Solofra
The Collegiata di San Michele Arcangelo in Solofra
Travel tip:

The villages of Serino and neighbouring Canale di Serino fall into an area of Campania that produces wines from the Aglianico grape, notably Taurasi, Aglianico del Taburno and Falerno del Massico. The production of chestnuts is also a strong part of the local economy. The area was badly hit by the earthquake in 1980 that brought devastation to the region, but the richly decorated 17th century Baroque church - the Collegiata di San Michele Arcangelo - in nearby Solofra, which contains 21 framed canvases painted by Giovanni Tommaso Guarino, has survived, following a number of reconstructions, as has the church of San Domenico, where a painting by Solimena can still be seen.

The Basilica of San Paolo Maggiore is a church that can be found on the bustling Via dei Tribunali
The Basilica of San Paolo Maggiore is a church that
can be found on the bustling Via dei Tribunali
Travel tip:

The Baroque-style basilica of San Paolo Maggiore, the burial place of Gaetano Thiene, known as Saint Cajetan, is located in the centre of Naples on Piazza Gaetano, just off Via dei Tribunali, the narrow, straight thoroughfare known as Spaccanapoli. The church was built on the site of the 1st-century temple of the Dioscuri. The decoration of the church in the early 18th century fell largely to Solimena and Domenico Antonio Vaccaro. The church suffered considerable bomb damage in the Second World War, sadly, with some frescoes by Massimo Stanzione almost completely destroyed.

More reading:

How the work of Annibale Carraci illuminates Rome

The prolific output of Luca Giordano

Why Domenichino's talent rivals Raphael

Also on this day:

The Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

1720: The birth of artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi


Home






No comments:

Post a Comment