(b Arenella, Naples, June–July 1615; d Rome, March 15, 1673).
Italian painter, draughtsman, etcher, poet and actor. He was one of the most original artists and extravagant personalities of the 17th century. His most popular and influential works were his landscapes, the wild and mountainous beauty of which contrasted with the pastoral scenes of Claude Lorrain. Yet Rosa also painted macabre subjects, erudite philosophical allegories and grand historical themes; he was, moreover, the most significant satirical poet of the Italian 17th century, and there is a close relationship between his poetry and painting. His earliest biographers, Filippo Baldinucci and Giovanni Battista Passeri, both of whom knew him well, described at length his fiery temperament, his immense ambition, his learning and vivacious wit, and his often outrageous treatment of his patrons.
He first studied painting in Naples and Neapolitan energy and violence informed his art profoundly throughout his life. His admiration for Jusepe de Ribera is evident in his rich and expressive brushwork and in the brutality of his early altarpieces and large-scale figure paintings; there are echoes of Ribera’s hermit saints and exuberantly naturalistic representations of philosophers—usually three-quarter-length single figures—throughout his oeuvre. He studied with his brother-in-law ...