The Punishment of Prometheus, Salvator Rosa. Oil on canvas, 344 x 214 cm, 1648 - 1650, Galleria Nazionale dÁrte Antica di Palazzo Corsini

The subject of the “Furias” spread from Naples to the rest of Italy through works by Ribera and the travels of painters close to him such as Salvator Rosa, who introduced himself in Rome in 1639 with a depiction of Tityus. In Genoa, however, the Neapolitan contribution combined with a local interest in this subject evident since the early seventeenth century and associated with the monumental treatment of bodies deployed by painters such as Luciano Borzone (1590-1645) and with patrons such as Giovan Carlo Doria. A friend of the poet Giambattista Marino, a collector of Rubens and the owner of various “Furias”, Doria’s palace housed an Accademia dei nudi. Assereto trained in this environment, confirming his interest in the “Furias” following his visit to Rome the year after Rosa’s triumph with Tityus.

The “Furias” saw their final moment of splendour in Venice, again thanks to the arrival of Neapolitan paintings and of painters such as Luca Giordano, which disseminated both the subject and the associated aesthetic of horror. Its principal exponent was the Genoese painter Langetti, who combined echoes of Assereto with a profound knowledge of Ribera. Arriving in Venice in 1655, Langetti became the principal representative of the tenebrosi: painters who found Caravaggio and Ribera’s tenebrism the best aesthetic option for expressing their own interior dramas.


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