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Salvator Rosa (1615 - 1673)

Related: Italian art - Gothic (inspiration to the English gothic novel) - 1600s

Another more celebrated fantasist was Salvator Rosa -- a man who, for reasons which are now entirely incomprehensible, was regarded by the critics of four and five generations ago as a great artist. But Salvator Rosa's romanticism is pretty cheap and obvious. He is a melodramatist who never penetrates below the surface. If he were alive today, he would be known most probably as the indefatigable author of one of the more bloodthirsty and adventurous comic strips. --Aldous Huxley on Salvator Rosa via Prisons (1949) via http://www.cyberzone.it/cyberzone%20n16/prisons.html

Landscape with Tobias and the Angel (ca. 1660-73) - Salvator Rosa


Salvator Rosa (1615 - March 15, 1673) was an Italian painter and poet of the Neapolitan school.

He was born in Arenella, in the outskirts of Naples: the precise day is given as June 20, and also July 21. His father, Vito Antonio de Rosa, a land surveyor, was bent upon making the youth a lawyer, or else a priest, and sent him to study in the convent of the Somaschi fathers. Here Salvator began showing a turn for art: he went in secret to his maternal uncle Paolo Greco to learn the practice of painting, but soon found that Greco had little pictorial lore to impart, so he transferred himself to his own brother-in-law Francesco Fracanzaro, a pupil of Ribera, and afterwards had some practice under Ribera himself.

Above all he went to nature, frequenting the Neapolitan coast, and keeping his eyes open and his hand busy. At the age of seventeen he lost his father; the widow was left unprovided for, with at least five children, and Salvator found himself immersed in a sea of troubles and perplexities, with nothing for the while to stem them except a buoyant and adventurous temperament. He obtained some instruction under the battle-painter Aniello Falcone, but chiefly painted in solitude, haunting romantic and desolate spots, beaches, mountains, caverns, verdure-clad recesses.

Hence he became in process of time the initiator of romantic landscape, with a special turn for scenes of strange or picturesque aspect often turbulent and rugged, at times grand, and with suggestions of the sublime. He picked up scanty doles when he could get them, and his early landscapes sold for a few pence to petty dealers. The first person to discover that Rosas work was not as trumpery as it was cheap was the painter Lanfranco, who bought some of the paintings, and advised the youth to go to Rome. Hither in 1635, at the age of twenty, Rosa betook himself; he studied with enthusiasm, but, catching fever, he returned to Naples and Falcone, and for a while painted nothing but battlepieces, and these without exciting any attention. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvator_Rosa [Jul 2005]

Naples and its surrounding vistas

[N]aples and its surrounding vistas enriched the English visual imagination in the late seventeenth century and gave a new gothic aesthetic to the English-speaking world. The antecedent imagination in this process is that of a proud, scornful Neapolitan painter called Salvator Rosa (1615-73). After Rosa's death his creative ideas were intellectualised by an artistic, invalid English nobleman, Anthony Ashley Cooper, third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713). Shaftesbury's ideas were popularised by the poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744), who disseminated a new sense of the visual and the picturesque; Pope's version of Shaftesbury's doctrines and Rosa's images were then given solid form by the architect and landscape artist William Kent (1686-1748). This process would have been impossible without the new taste for Continental travel that developed among the English of the seventeenth century and without the new fortunes that enabled them to collect works of art. --from the first chapter of Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin (1999) - Richard Davenport[Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK] via http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/books/chap1/gothic.htm [Jun 2005]

inspired by the sublime

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