Paolo de' Matteis

  • (Neapolitan), 1662 - 1728
  • Italian

Paolo de' Matteis first trained in Luca Giordano's workshop in Naples. Before 1683 he launched his career in Rome, where, according to legend, he was "discovered" by the Spanish ambassador while copying altarpieces in Saint Peter's Cathedral. When the ambassador was nominated Viceroy of Naples, de' Matteis followed him there. Responding to changing tastes and Carlo Maratti's influence, de' Matteis developed a delicate, graceful manner that broke with the vigor of the Baroque. Within ten years, his reputation was international, rivaling that of Francesco Solimena.

From 1702 to 1705, de' Matteis worked for the French court in Paris, where he met influential nobles and bankers; the elegant French style confirmed the direction his painting had already taken. Returning to Naples, which the Austrians had seized from Spain, de' Matteis accepted commissions from both the Austrian aristocracy and intellectuals and nobility abroad. Renowned for his speed and virtuosity, he also painted decorative schemes for Neapolitan churches.

In 1712 the third Earl of Shaftesbury, a renowned aesthetician, hired de' Matteis to paint a canvas according to the Earl's own aesthetic theories. Between 1723 and 1725, de' Matteis lived in Rome, where he received a commission from Pope Innocent XIII. In his final years, he made models for sculpture in silver.