3 June 2019

3 June

Pietro Paolini – artist

Follower of Caravaggio passed on his techniques to the next generation

Pietro Paolini, a painter in the Baroque period in Italy, was born on this day in 1603 in Lucca in Tuscany.  Sometimes referred to as Il Lucchese, Paolini was a follower of the controversial Italian artist Caravaggio.  He also founded an academy in his native city and taught the next generation of painters in Lucca.  Paolini’s father, Tommaso, sent him to Rome when he was 16 to train in the workshop of Angelo Caroselli, who was a follower of Caravaggio. He was exposed to the second generation of painters in the Caravaggio tradition such as Bartolomeo Manfredi, Cecco del Caravaggio and Bartolomeo Cavarozzi.  The principal themes of Paolini’s work were the subjects popularised by Caravaggio around the turn of the 17th century involving lower class people such as hawkers, prostitutes and musicians. Some of his paintings have allegorical meanings, such as The Allegory of the Five Senses, which depicts a darkened inn with people engaged in playing music and drinking, each representing one of the five senses. The picture shows the realism and the strong chiaroscuro typical of Caravaggio. Read more...


Roberto Rossellini - film director

Roman movie pioneer whose 'neorealism' had lasting influence

Film director Roberto Rossellini died on this day in 1977 in Rome, the city that provided the backdrop to his greatest work and earned him the reputation as the 'father of neorealism'.  Rossellini had been associated with the Fascist regime during the early part of the Second World War through his friendship with Mussolini’s son, who was a film producer. But after Mussolini’s government collapsed in 1943, Rossellini began work on the anti-Fascist film Rome, Open City, which he described as a history of Rome under Nazi occupation.  As well as his two main stars, Aldo Fabrizi and Anna Magnani, Rossellini also used non-professional actors for many scenes, feeling that they could portray the hardships and poverty of Rome under occupation more authentically.  The difficulties faced in production affected the quality of the end product but somehow added to the realism.  Though not well received in Italy,  Rome, Open City won critical acclaim and several major awards. Rossellini went on to direct Paisan (1946) and Germany Year Zero (1948), also regarded as classics.  The three movies became known as his Neorealist Trilogy. Read more…


Domenico Antonio Vaccaro - painter, sculptor and architect

Creative genius whose legacy is still visible around Naples

The painter, sculptor and architect Domenico Antonio Vaccaro, who created some notable sculptures and designed some of the finest churches and palaces around Naples in the early 18th century, was born in the great southern Italian city on this day in 1678.  Vaccaro was also an accomplished painter, but it is his architectural legacy for which he is most remembered.  Among the famous churches attributed to Vaccaro are the Chiesa di San Michele Arcangelo, which overlooks Piazza Dante, and the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Concezione a Montecalvario, which can be found in the Spanish Quarter, while he completed the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Stella in the district of the same name.  His notable palaces included the Palazzo Spinelli di Tarsia, just off Via Toledo, and the beautiful late Baroque palace, the Palazzo dell’Immacolatella, built on the water’s edge in the 1740s and now dwarfed by the enormous ocean-going ships that dock either side of it.  Vaccaro was also responsible for finishing the carved obelisk topped by a bronze statue in Piazza di San Domenico Maggiore.  Read more…


The Blessed Vincent Romano

Priest who devoted himself to helping the poor

The Blessed Vincent Romano, a priest from Torre del Greco on the Bay of Naples who became known for his tireless devotion to helping the poor, was born on this day in 1751.  Admired for his simple way of life and his efforts in particular to look after the wellbeing of orphaned children, he was nicknamed “the worker priest” by the local community. His commitment to helping poor people extended across the whole Neapolitan region.  He would demonstrate his willingness to roll up his sleeves in a different way in 1794 after his church – now the Basilica of Santa Croce – was all but destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius, which brought devastation to most of Torre del Greco as lava swept down to the sea.  Not only did Romano devote many hours to organising the rebuilding he actually cleared a good deal of rubble with his own hands.  Read more…


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