Salvator Rosa

  • 1615 - 1673
  • Artist
  • Italian

Despite living three hundred years before the Romantic movement, Rosa--a poet, satirist, composer, etcher, and painter--epitomized the Romantic rebel. He refused to paint on commission or to agree on a price beforehand, and he chose his own subjects. He painted in order "to be carried away by the transports of enthusiasm and use my brushes only when I feel myself rapt." Rosa studied in Naples, where Jusepe Ribera's realism influenced him. Encouraged by Giovanni Lanfranco, Rosa went to Rome in 1635. A bout with malaria drove him back to Naples, but he returned in 1639, resolving "to have his name on everybody's lips." His amateur theatrical group lampooned the sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini, prompting Rosa's quick departure. In Florence he enjoyed Medici patronage and founded the Accademia dei Percossi (Academy of the Afflicted), a crossroads for literati and artists. Rosa considered his innovative, rugged landscapes as mere recreation; in his mind only religious or historical subjects constituted "High Art." In 1649 he settled in Rome to work toward success as a history painter.