Monday, May 20, 2013

Cesari, Giuseppe

Archangel St. Michael
Black and red chalk Drawing
31.5x24.7 cm
Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia

In the studio of Cavaliere d'Arpino (Giuseppe Cesari), one of the most influential artist in Rome during the pontificate of  Pope Clement VIII, painters from northern Europe were numerous. From this Cavaliere d'Arpino probably derived his inclination for painting religious scenes in a landscape. He produced delicate devotional paintings on copper or panel on a very small scale. In them, his lives of the saints or biblical episodes were enriched by imaginative additions.

Giuseppe Cesari (c. 1568 - 1640) was an Italian Mannerist painter, also known as Cavaliere d'Arpino, active mainly in Rome. He was much patronized in Rome by both Pope Clement VIII and Sixtus V. He was the chief of the studio in which Caravaggio trained upon the younger painter's arrival in Rome.

He had an enormous reputation in the first two decades of the 17th century, when he gained some of the most prestigious commissions of the day, most notably the designing of the mosaics for the dome of St Peter's (1603-12). Although some of his early work is vigorous and colorful, his output is generally repetious and vacuous, untouched by the innovations of Caravaggio (who was briefly his assistant) or the Carracci. He was primarily a fresco painter, but he also did numerous cabinet pictures of religious or mythological scenes in a finicky Flemish manner.

His father had been a native of Arpino, but Giuseppe himself was born in Rome. Here, he was apprenticed to Niccolo Pomarancio. He was a man of touchy and irascible character, and rose from penury to the height of opulence. Cesari became a member of the Accademia di San Luca in 1585. In 1607, he was briefly jailed by the new papal administration. He died in 1640, at the age of seventy-two, or perhaps of eighty, at Rome.

His most notable and perhaps surprising pupil was Caravaggio. In c. 1593-94, Caravaggio held a job at Cesari's studio as a painter of flowers and fruit.