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Bernardo Strozzi | Baroque painter




Bernardo Strozzi, named il Cappuccino and il Prete Genovese (c. 1581 - 2 August 1644) was an Italian** Baroque painter and engraver.
A canvas and fresco artist, his wide subject range included history, allegorical, genre and portrait paintings as well as still lifes.
Born and initially mainly active in Genoa, he worked in Venice in the latter part of his career. His work exercised considerable influence on artistic developments in both cities.





He is considered a principal founder of the Venetian Baroque style**. His powerful art stands out by its rich and glowing colour and broad, energetic brushstrokes.


Strozzi was born in Genoa. He is not believed to be related to the Florentine Strozzi family. Bernardo Strozzi initially trained in the workshop of Cesare Corte, a minor Genoese painter whose work reflected the late Mannerist style** of Luca Cambiaso. He subsequently joined the workshop of Pietro Sorri, an innovative Sienese painter residing in Genoa from 1596-1598. Sorri is credited with leading Strozzi away from the artificial elegance of Cambiaso's late Mannerist style towards a greater naturalism.
In 1598, at the age of 17, Strozzi joined a Capuchin monastery, a reformist offshoot of the Franciscan order. During this time he likely painted devotional compositions for the order, including many scenes with St. Francis of Assisi whose life and deeds formed the inspiration of the order. While a monk of the Capuchin monastery of San Barnaba he came to be called by the nickname 'il Cappuccino' (the 'Capuchin monk'). Since he was allowed to abandon his Capuchin habit for that of a priest, he was also known as il prete genovese (the 'genovese priest').
When his father died around 1608, Strozzi left the Capuchin monastery to care for his mother and unmarried sister. He supported his family through his paintings. Strozzi's career took off during the next decade and Genoa's powerful Doria and Centurione families became his patrons. Bernardo Strozzi was able to secure commissions for grand mural decorations, which culminated in the important frescoes in the choir of the San Domenico church, commissioned by members of the Doria family, Giovanni Carlo and his cousin Giovanni Stefano.




The work is now almost entirely destroyed and is only known through a preparatory oil bozzetto for the vault depicting "The Vision of Saint Dominic (Paradise)", located at the Museo dell’Accademia Ligustica in Genoa. It is believed that from the end of April until the end of July 1625 he resided in Rome, to which he had been summoned by the friars of his order to support their attempt to create a stronger Capuchin presence in the papal city.
From the year 1625 Strozzi's relationship with the Capuchin order became strained. The order accused him of having committed a no longer known act that had purportedly caused 'disgrace to his sacred habit'. Some authors state that the act was the illegal practice of painting beyond the convent's walls. It is known that his Capuchin superiors condemned the secular paintings he was making such as his portraits and genre paintings.
The conflict came to a head in 1630 when Strozzi refused to go back to the monastery following his mother's death and his sister's marriage. His superiors then had him imprisoned. His arrest lasted for about 17 to 18 months.
By 1632-1633 the artist had reemerged in Venice where he had been allowed to work and live. Strozzi was able to build a strong reputation within two years, despite not being a native Venetian. He gradually gained recognition as one of the leading artists of his age. The Doge of Venice Francesco Erizzo became one of his most prominent patrons. Strozzi likely painted the Doge's portrait soon after he arrived in Venice.
Other patrons included the Catholic Cardinal and Patriarch of Venice Federico Baldissera Bartolomeo Cornaro and some members of the prominent Grimani family, as well as prominent Venetian artists such as the musicians Claudio Monteverdi** and Barbara Strozzi and the poet Giulio Strozzi.
The artist worked on important public commissions. He realised altarpieces in the Chiesa degli Incurabili and the Chiesa di San Nicolò da Tolentino and painted a tondo representing an Allegory of Sculpture for the reading room of the Biblioteca Marciana.
Strozzi was allowed the use of the honorific Monsignor although he remained known generally under the popular il prete genovese.
His many pupils and the large number of his paintings, which often appear in many versions, point to his reliance on the help of several assistants and the operation of a sizable workshop. Francesco Durello, Antonio Travi, Ermanno Stroiffi, Clemente Bocciardo, Giovanni Eismann, Giuseppe Catto and Giovanni Andrea de Ferrari are recorded as his pupils.
At the end of his career he also worked as an engineer. The artist died in Venice in 1644.



  • Work
Bernardo Strozzi was a versatile and prolific artist who worked on canvas and as a fresco artist. He treated a wide range of subjects including history, allegories, genre scenes and portraits. He also worked as a still life painter and various of his compositions include still life elements. Religious compositions make up the majority of his works.
Although also active as a fresco artist, he achieved greater success with his canvas paintings. Many of his paintings appear in multiple autograph copies produced by Strozzi himself as was customary at the time.



  • Stylistic development
Strozzi continued to develop his style throughout his career. His art drew its early inspiration from the rich variety of styles flourishing in Genoa around the turn of the 17th century. Starting in a style which borrowed from the artificial elegance of Cambiaso's late Mannerist style he gradually developed toward a greater naturalism.
Strozzi had early on absorbed the Tuscan Mannerist style** through his teacher Sorri as well as the style of Milanese Mannerist painting. As a result the influence of local Mannerism is sometimes difficult to separate from that of Lombard Mannerists. The Mannerism is expressed in the works of this early period in the elongated and curved figures, the tapering fingers, the inclined heads and the abstract patterns of draperies.
In the 1620’s Strozzi gradually abandoned his early Mannerist style in favor of a more personal style characterized by a new naturalism derived from the work of Caravaggio** and his followers.
The Caravaggist style of painting had been brought to Genoa both by Domenico Fiasella, after his return from Rome in 1617-18, and by followers of Caravaggio** who spent time working in the city, including Orazio Gentileschi**, Orazio Borgianni, Angelo Caroselli and Bartolomeo Cavarozzi. Strozzi's Calling of St Matthew (c. 1620, Worcester Art Museum) is particularly close to Caravaggio** in style and treatment of this subject, while still retaining certain Mannerist characteristics.


His exposure to the work of Anthony van Dyck**, Peter Paul Rubens** and other Flemish artists resident or passing through Genoa contributed to a growing naturalism and a definitive rejection of the Mannerist tendencies in his work. Warmer colors started to dominate while he developed a bolder and more painterly technique. In his composition St. Lawrence Distributing the Riches of the Church (c. 1625, Saint Louis Art Museum) the artist achieved a clear and lucid treatment of space and an accurate definition of form by the use of light and shade. The impasto in this work had become even thicker than before.
By the end of the 1620s, Strozzi had started to synthesize a personal style which fused painterly influences of the North (including Rubens** and Veronese**) with a monumental, realistic starkness. Venice infused his painting with a gentler edge, a style more acceptable to the local patronage, and one derived from his precursors in Venice, Jan Lys and Domenico Fetti, who had also fused the influence of Caravaggio** into Venetian art.
Veronese's art inspired him to adopt a bolder and more luminous palette. An example of this style can be found in his Parable of the Wedding Guests (1636, Accademia ligustica di belle arti). His style continued at the same time to reveal the strong influence of Rubens as is shown in Allegorical figure (Minerva?) (mid-1630s, Cleveland Museum of Art), which unites the robust forms and brilliant colours of Rubens with the warm atmosphere of Venetian art.
His latest works are luminous and sketchy, as can be seen in the David with the Head of Goliath (after 1640, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam) and the Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well (after 1630, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden).
His Lute Player (after 1640; Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna) exudes a poetic mood likely derived from his study of the work of Giorgione.

Bernardo Strozzi | Ritratto del compositore Claudio Monteverdi
  • Influence
Bernardo Strozzi's work exercised considerable influence on artistic developments in both Genoa and Venice. He is considered a principal founder of the Venetian Baroque style**. Painters in Genoa strongly influenced by Strozzi included Giovanni Andrea de Ferrari, Giovanni Bernardo Carbone, Valerio Castello, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione and Gioacchino Assereto.
In Venice, Ermanno Stroiffi, Francesco Maffei, Girolamo Forabosco and certain works by Pietro Muttoni also demonstrate the influence of Strozzi. He has also been cited as a possible influence on the Spanish painter Murillo**, who may have known his work such as the Veronica (1620-1625, Museo del Prado, Madrid). | © Wikipedia


















Bernardo Strozzi, detto il Cappuccino o il Prete genovese (Genova, 1581 - Venezia, 2 agosto 1644), è stato un pittore e religioso Italiano** del Seicento. È considerato uno dei più importanti e prolifici esponenti della pittura barocca** italiana.
La sua opera si è ispirata inizialmente alla scuola pittorica toscana per risentire, successivamente, delle influenze di artisti lombardi e fiamminghi, sia pure restituite in una matrice comune reinterpretata con personale visione.
La sua cifra stilistica è stata caratterizzata inizialmente dall'uso di colori intensi tesi a costituire un elemento strutturale ben definito rispetto alla rappresentazione pittorica.
Ne La verità pittoresca di Giovanni Battista Volpato, del 1685, viene evidenziata la sua abilità nell'àmbito del cosiddetto pittoresco, assimilabile a quella di artisti come Palma il Giovane e Francesco Maffei.
Nella sua carriera, Strozzi operò anche a Venezia - città nella quale morì - e sulla laguna seppe raccogliere le nuove influenze artistiche, derivate prevalentemente dall'opera di Paolo Veronese**, in grado di meglio focalizzare l'aspetto di pura scenografia dei lavori che andava realizzando.
Non risulta che Strozzi fosse imparentato con l'omonima famiglia fiorentina.
Nel 1598, all'età di diciassette anni, aderì all'Ordine dei frati minori Cappuccini che poi lasciò nel 1608 alla morte del padre per mantenere la madre con il proprio lavoro di pittore. Gli resterà, come nome d'arte, quello de il Cappuccino.

Nel 1625 fu accusato di pratica illegale della pittura e quando sua madre morì, intorno al 1630, Strozzi fu costretto da un'ordinanza giudiziaria, dopo un breve periodo di reclusione, a rientrare nell'ordine dei Cappuccini. Per evitare il confino in monastero, decise così di trovare asilo nella Repubblica di Venezia, dove venne soprannominato il Prete genovese.

Gran parte del suo corpus artistico ha riguardato soggetti di carattere religioso e a sfondo biblico e le sue prime opere furono influenzate da insegnanti francescani. È il caso dell'Adorazione dei pastori del 1615. Nei suoi primi lavori - come ad esempio nell'Estasi di San Francesco - l'artista mostra anche di essere fortemente influenzato dall'ombrosità emotiva tipica di Caravaggio**.



Ma già nella seconda decade del Seicento, quando si trova a Venezia, Strozzi inizia a sintetizzare un proprio stile personale che fonde disparate influenze, incluse quelle derivate da Rubens e da Veronese.
Nel dipinto Incredulità di san Tommaso, lo sfondo è mutato rispetto ai lavori precedenti, ma il volto del Cristo riflette ancora lo stile tipico di Caravaggio**.
L'influenza dell'arte veneziana derivata dai caravaggisti (come Jan Lys, morto nel 1629 e Domenico Fetti, morto nel 1623) è maggiormente ravvisabile nei successivi lavori contrassegnati da uno stile più morbido e apprezzato dai mecenati veneti. In particolare, appartengono al periodo, i dipinti Parabola del convitato a nozze (1630), Cristo consegna le chiavi del Paradiso a San Pietro (stesso anno), Carità di San Lorenzo (Venezia, chiesa di San Nicola da Tolentino) e la Personificazione della Fama (1635-1636).
Strozzi - che fu anche influenzato nella sua tecnica pittorica da Diego Velázquez**, in visita a Genova fra il 1629-1630 - vide consolidare la sua notorietà dopo che gli venne commissionato un ritratto del compositore Claudio Monteverdi**. Da allora diversi furono i dipinti da lui realizzati raffiguranti notabili veneziani (Giovanni Grimani, il cardinale Federico Correr, il doge Francesco Erizzo, ecc.).
Suoi discepoli sono stati, negli anni Genovesi, Giovanni Andrea de Ferrari (1598-1669) ed Antonio Travi (1609-1665), e negli anni Veneziani, Ermanno Stroiffi (la sua tela Bacco ed Arianna si trova nel Museo civico Amedeo Lia a La Spezia) e altri ignoti.
Opere di Strozzi sono conservate, oltre che alla Galleria di Palazzo Rosso di Genova e in chiese e musei di Venezia, in musei di tutto il mondo, fra cui l'Ermitage di San Pietroburgo, il museo di Belle Arti di Chambéry, l'Alte Pinakothek di Monaco di Baviera, il Kunsthistorisches Museum di Vienna, il museo Magyar Szépmüvészeti di Budapest, la National Gallery a Londra. In Spagna si trovano, in particolare, La Veronica e Tobia cura il padre cieco, custoditi al Museo del Prado, e Santa Cecilia, custodito al Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. | © Wikipedia





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