DEATH: 1673 ROSA
Died on 15 March 1673: Salvator
Rosa, Italian artist born on 20 June 1615, specialized in
Rosa was a Baroque painter and etcher of the Neapolitan school remembered for his wildly romantic or "sublime" landscapes, marine paintings, and battle pictures. He was also an accomplished poet, satirist, actor, and musician. Rosa studied painting in Naples, coming under the influence of the Spanish painter and engraver José de Ribera. Rosa went to Rome in 1635 to study, but he soon contracted malaria. He returned to Naples, where he painted numerous battle and marine pictures and developed his peculiar style of landscape picturesquely wild scenes of nature with shepherds, seamen, soldiers, or bandits - the whole infused with a romantic poetic quality.
His reputation as a painter preceded his return to Rome in 1639. Already famous as an artist, he also became a popular comic actor. During the Carnival of 1639 he rashly satirized the famous architect and sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini, thereby making a powerful enemy. For some years thereafter the environment of Florence was more comfortable for him than that of Rome. In Florence he enjoyed the patronage of Cardinal Giovanni Carlo de' Medici. Rosa's own house became the centre of a literary, musical, and artistic circle called the Accademia dei Percossi; here also Rosa's flamboyant personality found expression in acting. In 1649 he returned and finally settled in Rome. Rosa, who had regarded his landscapes more as recreation than as serious art, now turned largely to religious and historical painting. In 1660 he began etching and completed a number of successful prints. His satires were posthumously published in 1710.
Self-portrait (1641, 116x94cm) _ Rosa, who originates from southern Italy, moved to Florence in 1640 and became the court painter of the Medici. He painted here idyllic landscapes, demonic, thrilling scenes and portraits, among them this self-portrait. another Self-Portrait
Portrait of a Man (78x64cm) _ This portrait was also known with title Portrait of a Bandit, Portrait of the Brigand. Due to the similarity to the authentic self-portraits of the artist it is also assumed to be a self-portrait painted from a mirror.
Democritus in Meditation (1650, 344x214cm) _ Democritus, the great pre-Socratic philosopher and founder of a strictly materialist concept of the world sought new explanations for birth and death, appearance and disappearance. According to his theory of "atomism", atoms are the smallest parts of all substances, uniting and dividing in eternal swirling movements. His ethical system called for a life of moderation and tranquillity foregoing most sensual joys.
Rosa depicts him in the traditional pose of melancholy, amidst a setting of decay, destruction and desolation. Animal skulls and bones, symbols of the past greatness of antiquity (vase, altar and herm) and symbols of fallen power (the dead eagle) are featured in this wasteland overcast with heavy grey clouds. An owl high in the tree is his only living companion, both a sign of night and of wisdom. Rosa's Democritus is not the philosopher who has reached the goal of his contemplation, nor does he represent serene tranquillity or the superior cognitive powers of the analytic mind. Instead, we see a forsaken thinker contemplating the things that have been the subject of his intellectual endeavours: death, the past, turbulent disquietude, fragmentation. The vanitas symbolism of the objects does not go unanswered: in the figure of the pensive philosopher lies the germ of a response, still caught in melancholy lethargy.
River Landscape with Apollo and the Cumean Sibyl (1655, 174x259cm) _ Ovid (Metamorphoses. 14:130-153) tells how the Sibyl of Cumae, in southern Italy, was loved by Apollo. He bribed her by offering to prolong her life for as many years as there were grains in a heap of dust, in return for her embraces. She refused him and although he kept his word he denied her perpetual youth, so she was condemned to centuries as a wizened crone. The Sibyl, a young woman, is shown standing before Apollo holding out her cupped hands which contain the heap of dust. He sits on a rock before her, one hand resting on his lyre. The subject is first seen in the 17th century.
View of the Gulf of Salerno (1645, 170x260cm) _ Salvator Rosa was a prolific artist who is best known for the creation of a new type of wild and savage landscape. His craggy cliffs, jagged, moss-laden trees, and rough bravura handling create a dank and desolate air that contrasts sharply with the serenity of Claude Lorrain or the classical grandeur of Nicolas Poussin.
Human Fragility and a charming picture: Jason Charming the Dragon