Salvator Rosa

Salvator Rosa painting

One of the most versatile Old Masters of Baroque art, Salvator Rosa had exceptional talent in oil painting and printmaking (engraving, etching) as well as poetry and music. A quick-tempered, flamboyant individual, he specialized in landscape painting and battle scenes, but also produced a large quantity of portrait art, allegorical and history painting, as well as religious art and a series of witchcraft paintings. He is especially well-known for his wild and fantastic landscapes, marked by a feeling of dreamlike melancholy (in contrast to the classical serenity of Poussin and Claude) – see, for instance, River Landscape with Apollo and the Cumaean Sibyl (1650-60, Wallace Collection, London), and Landscape with Tobit and the Angel (1670, Musee des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg). These landscapes had a significant impact on the 19th century school of English landscape painting, as exemplified by the works of John Martin (1789-1854).

Salvator Rosa began his career as part of the Neapolitan School of Painting (1600-56), but spent most of his life in Florence (1640-9) and Rome, where he finally settled in 1649.

One of the pioneering Romantic artists – reputedly he fought by day and painted by night – his reputation declined during the late 19th century, after his landscape pictures were dismissed by John Ruskin (1819-1900) as artificial. Ironically, one of his most famous pictures is his Self-Portrait (1641, National Gallery, London); see also Self-Portrait (1645, Musee des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg).

However, Rosa never wholly committed himself to the idea of a perfectly arranged classical landscape. He included in his painting figures of ordinary people while his natural tendency towards the picturesque gave animation to, and sometimes even dissipated, the ‘ideal’ design. In the ensuing years, however, in the learned and academic circles he frequented in Florence, he drew nearer to the classical style, as seen in 1645, in works which have a new nobility of content: The Philosophers’ Forest (Pitti Palace, Florence). Side by side with his classicism he experimented with another style based on ugliness, even repulsiveness, in which esoteric themes were dominant (Sorcery, Private Collection, Florence)

Dimension: 77x55cm
Painting Technique: Oil painting
Painting style: Baroque art

Salvator Rosa oil on canvas painting style tecnique old picture italian painter oil on cardboard