Francesco Maffei

Dates(Venetian), about 1605 - 1660

Francesco Maffei's fluid style combined the richness and splendor of the Baroque, the elegance and exaggeration of Mannerism, and his own flair for the visually dramatic. He probably trained in Vicenza with his father and with a local Mannerist painter. Active in Vicenza for most of his career, he also left intermittently to work in other Italian cities, including Venice, Rovido, and Brescia. Maffei specialized in civic allegories, elaborate machines that glorified the region's dignitaries. He painted religious works as well, like Crucifixion Supported by God the Father in the Church of San Nicola in Vicenza, where his debt to Jacopo Bassano's figure types and exaggerated lighting is evident. Maffei painted with a nervous and rapid brush in flashes of brilliant color, often achieving a hallucinatory effect. He studied a wide variety of Baroque and Mannerist painters, including Paolo Veronese, Alessandro Magnasco, Parmigianino, and Jacques Bellange. Tintoretto's attenuated forms and sudden lunges into space were also an influence. Maffei left Vicenza in 1657 and settled in Padua, where he died of the plague. A contemporary critic judged him a painter "not of dwarfs but of giants . . . whose style stupefied everyone."