b. 1680 Gaeta, Italy, d. 1764 Naples, Italy
The eldest of ten children, Sebastiano Conca trained in the Baroque manner, possibly under Luca Giordano and certainly under Francesco Solimena. After moving to Rome about 1706, his exuberant Giordanesque style increasingly incorporated the tempering influence of Carlo Maratti's classicism. By the second quarter of the 1700s, Conca had become Rome's preeminent painter, receiving a constant stream of commissions for frescoes and sending his altarpieces throughout Europe. Italian collectors and European visitors to Rome eagerly sought his smaller easel paintings--lyrical, Rococo pieces with lively brushwork and soft colors. In about 1710, Conca established his Accademia del Nudo, which attracted many followers from Italy and abroad. Pompeo Batoni was among its pupils, and engravers there disseminated Conca's style across Europe through their prints. Conca twice served as director of Rome's Accademia di San Luca. In 1739 he wrote the Ammonimenti, a theoretical work containing moral and artistic precepts for young men intending to become painters. Upon returning to Naples around 1752, he created dazzling illusionistic frescoes and canvases.