Domenico Fetti

Datesabout 1589 - 1623

By the early 1600s, Venetian art had declined and it took a native of Mantua, Domenico Fetti, to reinvigorate it. Fetti was greatly influenced by Peter Paul Rubens, whose transparent red and blue flesh tones he adopted, German expatriate landscapist Adam Elsheimer, and those followers of Caravaggio who explored Venice's rich color. Fetti became Mantua's court painter in 1613. There he studied Giulio Romano's work as well as Rubens's and became increasingly influenced by Venetian painters, particularly Titian and Tintoretto. Fetti painted large frescoes there, but he was best on a small scale. A fine portraitist, his palette was warm, light, and rich. He created an effect of vibrating light by using complementary colors and rapid brushstrokes heavy with paint. Fetti left Mantua hurriedly in 1622 and settled in Venice, a city he had first visited in 1621 in order to buy art for his patron and employer, the duke of Mantua. Despite the duke's efforts, he refused to return to Mantua. In Venice Fetti devoted himself to small easel pictures, many illustrating the Parables and set in homely surroundings or landscapes. They were probably popular, for he repeated them often. Fetti soon became ill and died in 1623.