Francesco Solimena

Dates1657 - 1747

Francesco Solimena settled in Naples in 1674 and became the unchallenged head of the Neapolitan school of painting during the first half of the 1700s. He modeled his painting on the exuberant Baroque style of his predecessor, Luca Giordano, modified by the classical tendencies of Roman decorator Pietro da Cortona. The brownish shadows that are such an identifiable element of Solimena's style are indebted to Giovanni Lanfranco and Mattia Preti. Flickering patterning of light and shade, clarity of line, and theatricality are equally characteristic of Solimena's art. Despite a first impression of a Baroque compositional free-for-all, with people in all manner of activity and poses, Solimena's figure style was actually very conventional. His figures often derived from classicizing masters of the past such as Annibale Carracci, Domenichino, and Raphael. Despite working his whole life in Naples, Solimena became one of the most influential artists in Europe. He acquired great wealth, lived in a palace, became a baron, and was in constant demand by royal patrons, including Prince Eugene of Savoy and Louis XIV of France. Solimena established his own academy, which became the center of Neapolitan artistic life, and trained innumerable young painters, including Sebastiano Conca.