b. 1581 Genoa, Italy, d. 1644 Venice, Italy
Bernardo Strozzi was one of the most influential Italian painters of the early 1600s, especially in Genoa and Venice. He briefly studied with a painter and antiquarian before his mother sent him to work with a Sienese painter in Genoa. Although he became a Capuchin monk and entered the monastery at San Barnabà in Genoa in 1598, he continued to paint, producing primarily devotional works. In 1610 Strozzi was given permission to leave the monastery in order to support his sick widowed mother and unmarried sister as a painter. In addition to painting in oils, he also painted frescoes, but few survive. Although he drew on the great variety of styles available in the busy cosmopolitan center of Genoa, Strozzi was perhaps most profoundly influenced by Caravaggio and the work of Caravaggio's students.
By 1630, Strozzi's mother had died and his sister had married, but he refused to return to the monastery. To elude the authorities, he moved to Venice, where he was nicknamed il prete Genovese (the Genoese priest). His many students and the quantity of his paintings and versions of them suggest that he probably had a large workshop with several assistants.