Giovanni Lanfranco
Giovanni Lanfranco was an Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 painter of the Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...



Giovanni Gaspare Lanfranco was born in Parma
Parma is a city in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its ham, its cheese, its architecture and the fine countryside around it. This is the home of the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world....

, the third son of Stefano and Cornelia Lanfranchi, and was placed as a page in the household of Count Orazio Scotti. His talent for drawing allowed him to begin an apprenticeship with the Bolognese artist Agostino Carracci
Agostino Carracci
Agostino Carracci was an Italian painter and printmaker. He was the brother of the more famous Annibale and cousin of Lodovico Carracci....

, brother of Annibale Carracci
Annibale Carracci
Annibale Carracci was an Italian Baroque painter.-Early career:Annibale Carracci was born in Bologna, and in all likelihood first apprenticed within his family...

, working alongside fellow Parmese Sisto Badalocchio
Sisto Badalocchio
Sisto Badalocchio Rosa was an Italian painter and engraver of the Bolognese School.Born in Parma, he worked first under Agostino Carracci in Bologna, then Annibale Carracci, in Rome. He worked with Annibale till 1609, then moving back to Parma...

 in the local Farnese palaces. When Agostino died in 1602, both young artists moved to Annibale's large and prominent Roman workshop, which was then involved in working on the Galleria Farnese in the Palazzo Farnese gallery ceiling. Lanfranco is considered to have contributed to the panel of Polyphemus and Galatea (replica in Doria Gallery) and some minor works in the room.

Afterwards, while still technically a member of the Carracci studio of Carracci, Lanfranco, along with Guido Reni
Guido Reni
Guido Reni was an Italian painter of high-Baroque style.-Biography:Born in Bologna into a family of musicians, Guido Reni was the son of Daniele Reni and Ginevra de’ Pozzi. As a child of nine, he was apprenticed under the Bolognese studio of Denis Calvaert. Soon after, he was joined in that...

 and Francesco Albani
Francesco Albani
Francesco Albani or Albano was an Italian Baroque painter.-Early years in Bologna:Born 1578 in Bologna, his father was a silk merchant who intended to instruct his son in the same trade; but by age twelve, Albani became an apprentice under the competent mannerist painter Denis Calvaert, where he...

, frescoed the Herrera (San Diego) Chapel in San Giacomo degli Spagnoli (1602–1607). He also participated in the fresco decoration of San Gregorio Magno
San Gregorio Magno
San Gregorio Magno al Celio, also known as San Gregorio al Celio or simply San Gregorio, is a church in Rome, Italy, which is part of a monastery...

 and of the Cappella Paolina in Santa Maria Maggiore.

Independent work

By 1605, Lanfranco was obtaining some independent commissions; for example, he contributed paintings to the Camerino degli Eremiti in the Palazzetto Farnese (also known as Casino della Morte), once a low building on the Via Giulia, adjacent to the church of Santa Maria dell’Orazione e Morte
Santa Maria dell’Orazione e Morte
Santa Maria dell'Orazione e Morte is a small church in central Rome, on Via Giulia between the Tiber and the Palazzo Farnese....

. The camerino had been constructed by Cardinal Odoardo Farnese, next to his palace and gardens, and was destroyed in 1734 to allow for the construction of the aforementioned church. Of the canvases and frescoes by Domenichino, Girolamo Pulzone, Paul Bril, and Lanfranco, some are conserved in the new church. Among other works, Lanfranco contributed to this series, the eccentric Translation of the Magdalen.

After the death of Annibale Carracci in 1609, and with the Emilian school of painting temporarily out of favor, Lanfranco returned to his native Parma for two years. There, he met Bartolomeo Schedoni
Bartolomeo Schedoni
Bartolomeo Schedoni was an Italian early Baroque painter from Reggio Emilia.-Biography:He was born in Modena, but moved to Parma with his father. Soon he was sent to be apprenticed under Federico Zuccari in Rome after 1598, with the sponsorship of Ranuccio I Farnese, Duke of Parma. He soon...

 and painted the altarpiece for the Ognissanti church. Lanfranco also produced paintings and altarpieces in Orvieto
Orvieto is a city and comune in Province of Terni, southwestern Umbria, Italy situated on the flat summit of a large butte of volcanic tuff...

, Vallerano
Vallerano is a comune in the Province of Viterbo in the Italian region Latium, located about 60 km northwest of Rome and about 13 km southeast of Viterbo...

, Leonessa
Leonessa is a town and comune in the far northeastern part of the Province of Rieti in the Lazio region of central Italy. Its population in 2008 was around 2,700.Situated in a small plain at the foot of Mt...

 and Fermo
Fermo is a town and comune of the Marche, Italy, in the Province of Fermo.Fermo is located on a hill, the Sabulo with a fine view, on a branch from Porto San Giorgio on the Adriatic coast railway....


Returned to Rome by 1612, Lanfranco and competed with other Carracci students and assistants—including Reni, Albani, and Domenichino—for Roman patronage. Reni, however, was soon to depart for Naples and then Bologna. During the following decades in Rome, through the 1620s, Lanfranco and Domenichino engaged in a rivalry for the main fresco commissions. A measure of the competition can be gauged from Lanfranco's public accusation, not wholly without merit, that Domenichino had plagiarized
Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the "wrongful appropriation," "close imitation," or "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work, but the notion remains problematic with nebulous...

 Agostino Carracci in his painting of the Confession of St. Jerome, now in the Vatican
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...


Unlike Domenichino, Lanfranco was fairly eclectic in terms of style but preferred a visionary, theatrical approach suitable for the ceiling paintings gaining currency in the early 17th century. His works suggest some influence from the late work of Ludovico Carracci
Ludovico Carracci
Ludovico Carracci was an Italian, early-Baroque painter, etcher, and printmaker born in Bologna....

, a cousin of Agostino and Annibale, and possibly from Caravaggio (as, for example, in the altarpiece depicting the Inspiration of Saint Luke at Piacenza
Piacenza is a city and comune in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Piacenza...

(1611)), though the stylistic importance of Caravaggio to Lanfranco has been disputed. In other works, he assimilated and adapted the style of his compatriot and predecessor of the 16th century, Antonio Correggio, as in his Adoration of the Shepherds painted before 1608 for the Marchese Clemente Sannesi and his brother the Cardinal Jacopo.

In the 'teens, Lanfranco's studio became quite active, painting frescoes in the Palazzo Mattei
Palazzo Mattei
thumb|250px|right|The courtyard of the Palazzo Mattei di Giove.The Palazzo Mattei di Giove is the most prominent among a group of Mattei houses that forms the insula Mattei in Rome, Italy, a block of buildings of many epochs...

 and decorating the Buongiovanni Chapel in Sant'Agostino
Sant'Agostino is a church in Rome, Italy, not far from Piazza Navona. It is one of the first Roman churches built during the Renaissance. The construction was funded by Guillaume d'Estouteville, Archbishop of Rouen and Papal Chancellor. The façade was built in 1483 by Giacomo di Pietrasanta, using...

 (1616), which includes a Correggesque Assumption, along with easel paintings. His Annunciation (1615) in San Carlo ai Catinari in regarded as one of his best works. Soon, Lanfranco became the pre-eminent painter of circle of Pope Paul V
Pope Paul V
-Theology:Paul met with Galileo Galilei in 1616 after Cardinal Bellarmine had, on his orders, warned Galileo not to hold or defend the heliocentric ideas of Copernicus. Whether there was also an order not to teach those ideas in any way has been a matter for controversy...

. He painted frescoes for the Palazzo Costaguti and a large ceiling fresco in quadratura at the Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese may refer to:*The Villa Borghese Pinciana , the villa built by the architect Flaminio Ponzio , developing sketches by Scipione Borghese, who used it as a villa suburbana, a party villa, at the edge of Rome, and to house his art collection.**The Galleria...

, The Gods of Olympus.

In the following year, Lanfranco together with Agostino Tassi
Agostino Tassi
Agostino Tassi was an Italian painter, mostly of landscapes and seascapes, who is now best known as the rapist of Artemisia Gentileschi....

 and Carlo Saraceni
Carlo Saraceni
Carlo Saraceni was an Italian early-Baroque painter, whose reputation as a "first-class painter of the second rank" was improved with the publication of a modern monograph in 1968....

 decorated the Sala de' Corazzieri and Sala Regia of the Palazzo del Quirinale. His formal Presentation at the Temple has the sunlit Carraci-like style In 1622, he painted the Ectasy of Saint Margaret of Cortona (Galleria Platina, Palazzo Pitti
Palazzo Pitti
The Palazzo Pitti , in English sometimes called the Pitti Palace, is a vast mainly Renaissance palace in Florence, Italy. It is situated on the south side of the River Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio...

, Florence) as an altarpiece for Santa Maria Nuova in Cortona
Cortona is a town and comune in the province of Arezzo, in Tuscany, Italy. It is the main cultural and artistic center of the Val di Chiana after Arezzo.-History:...

, where Margaret live and died. The painting could well have inspired the pose in Bernini's famous St Theresa in ecstasy. In 1623-1624, he decorated the Sacchetti Chapel in San Giovanni dei Fiorentini
San Giovanni dei Fiorentini
San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, St John of the Florentines, is a church in the Ponte rione or district of Rome. Dedicated to St John the Baptist, the protector of Florence, the new church for the Florentine community in Rome was started in the 16th century and completed in early eighteenth and is the...

 in Rome.

While Paul V's successor, Gregory XV, preferred works by Guercino and Domenichino, Lanfranco won commissions for the Crucifix Chapel in Santa Maria in Vallicella
Santa Maria in Vallicella
Santa Maria in Vallicella, also called Chiesa Nuova, is a church in Rome, Italy, which today faces onto the main thoroughfare of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele...

. Lanfranco's crowning masterpiece, however, and one of the major church fresco decoration of the late 1620s, was his Assumption of the Virgin frescoed on the dome of Sant'Andrea della Valle
Sant'Andrea della Valle
Sant'Andrea della Valle is a basilica church in Rome, Italy, in the rione of Sant'Eustachio. The basilica is the general seat for the religious order of the Theatines.-Overview:...

. Completed in 1627 in sotto in su perspective, the crowded array of figures is a landmark in Baroque painting with bright golden coloration and energy. Lanfranco was influenced by Correggio's pioneering decoration of the Duomo di Parma.

Urban VIII commissioned him a large fresco portraying St. Peter Walking on Waters (1628, now fragmentary), for which Lanfranco gained the title of Knight of the Order of Christ. In 1631, Lanfranco was named Prince (Principe) of the Academy of Saint Luke, the artist's guild in Rome. There is also a fresco by Giovanni Lanfranco above the monument of Pope Clement VIII
Pope Clement VIII
Pope Clement VIII , born Ippolito Aldobrandini, was Pope from 30 January 1592 to 3 March 1605.-Cardinal:...

 in Santa Maria Maggiore in (Rome).

From 1634 to 1646, Lanfranco began decorating the dome and pendentives of the Jesuit church of the Gesù Nuovo
Gesù Nuovo
Gesù Nuovo is the name of a church and a square in Naples, Italy. They are located just outside the western boundary of the historic center of the city. The existence of the square is a consequence of the expansion of the city to the west beginning in the early 16th century under the rule of ...

 in Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 in 1634-1637. In 1637-1638, he frescoed the nave and choir of the Certosa of San Martino. This was followed by the decoration of Santi Apostoli
Santi Apostoli
The Church of the Twelve Holy Apostles is a 6th century Roman Catholic parish and titular church and minor basilica in Rome, Italy, dedicated originally to St. James and St. Philip and later to all Apostles...

 in 1638-1646 and the dome of the Cappella of San Gennaro in the Cathedral of Naples
Cathedral of Naples
Naples Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral, the main church of Naples, southern Italy, and the seat of the Archbishop of Naples. It is widely known as the Cattedrale di San Gennaro, in honour of Saint Januarius, the city's patron saint, but is actually dedicated to the Assumption of the...

. These works would invigorate the efforts of the grand manner Napolitan painters of the second half of the 17th century: Preti
Mattia Preti
Mattia Preti was an Italian Baroque artist who worked in Italy and Malta.- Biography :Born in the small town of Taverna in Calabria, Preti was sometimes called Il Cavalier Calabrese...

, Giordano
Luca Giordano
Luca Giordano was an Italian late Baroque painter and printmaker in etching. Fluent and decorative, he worked successfully in Naples and Rome, Florence and Venice, before spending a decade in Spain....

 and Solimena
Francesco Solimena
Francesco Solimena was a prolific Italian painter of the Baroque era, one of an established family of painters and draughtsmen.-Biography:Francesco Solimena was born in Canale di Serino, near Avellino....

. He died in Rome in 1647, where his last work was apse of San Carlo ai Catinari
San Carlo ai Catinari
San Carlo ai Catinari, also called Santi Biagio e Carlo ai Catinari is an early-Baroque style church in Rome, Italy....


Legacy and critical assessment

Lanfranco was a versatile and eclectic trainee of the Carracci, and continued their tradition with dramatic flair compared to the often restrained Domenichino, who mimicked mainly Annibale's grand manner. Lanfranco explored new styles, bridged traditions, painted in both mannerist
Mannerism is a period of European art that emerged from the later years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520. It lasted until about 1580 in Italy, when a more Baroque style began to replace it, but Northern Mannerism continued into the early 17th century throughout much of Europe...

 and baroque styles, using a tenebrist
Tenebrism, from the Italian tenebroso , is a style of painting using very pronounced chiaroscuro, where there are violent contrasts of light and dark, and darkness becomes a dominating feature of the image...

 and the colorist palette.

Selected works

External links

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