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Giordano, Luca

Naples, 1634 - Naples, 1705

During his life, Luca Giordano enjoyed a popularity in both Italy and Spain that plummeted after his death, due to two prejudices that have lasted until quite recently. The first was an association of his surprising speed as a painter with the idea that his work was somehow superficial, an accusation constantly leveled at him by advocates of the Greco-Roman aesthetic. The second stemmed from his striking capacity to imitate other artists’ styles, which led him to be considered a mere copyist of famous painters. The monograph first published by Oreste Ferrari and Giuseppe Scavizzi in 1966 marked Giordano’s definitive recovery, and the present appreciation of his highly fertile imagination and creative capacity. According to his first biographers, he learned his craft in the circle of artists around Ribera, whose style he imitated in his earliest works. During an early and decisive trip to Rome and Venice he closely studied Veronese, whose influence is visible throughout his later career. As his style matured, he was also powerfully influenced by artists such as Mattia Preti, Rubens, Bernini, and most of all, Pietro da Cortona, from whom he drew his physical types. Towards the end of the 1670s, he began painting large frescoes (Montecassino, 1677-1678, now destroyed; and San Gregorio Armeno, Naples, 1679). Beginning in 1682, he painted the dome of the Corsini chapel at the church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence, and more significantly, the domes at the gallery and library of the Medici Ricardi palace in that same city. In 1692 he was called to Madrid to paint the large mural decorations at the monastery of El Escorial, including the stairway and the basilica vaults, where he worked between 1692 and 1694. The first of these was his finest work and it was closely supervised by King Charles II himself. It combines historical and allegorical scenes with images of real persons (the monarchs) in a highly imaginative composition that demonstrated his amazing mastery of fresco technique to Spaniards. He followed this work with a smaller but still highly important work: the monarch’s office and bedroom (now destroyed) at the Royal Palace in Aranjuez. These spaces were entirely decorated by Giordano—the vaulting "al fresco" and the walls with oil paintings. He also included an image of the monarch among the decorations for his office—this time with an original iconography that presents Charles II as a new Janus, a guarantor of peace and possessed of considerable foresight. The paintings that adorned this setting expanded upon the vault’s political message, extolling Charles II’s virtues as ruler of the Spanish Monarchy. Giordano followed that project with works at the Casón del Buen Retiro (ca. 1697), the sacristy at Toledo Cathedral (1798), and the Royal Chapel at Madrid’s Alcázar (now destroyed), as well as the church of San Antonio de Padua, where the presentation of his images as trompe l’oeil tapestries allows us to imagine the effect of the now-lost "Labors of Hercules" at the Casón, which were presented in the same fashion. The arrival of Philip V in 1701 and the beginning of the War of Succession put an end to his royal commissions, leading to his definitive return to Naples in 1702. From there, he continued to send innumerable paintings to Spain. He died in Naples in 1705, leaving an enormous number of works and a considerable fortune (Úbeda, A. in E.M.N.P., Madrid, 2006, vol. IV, pp. 1160-1163).

His self-portrait at the Museo de Prado is catalogued as P00573.

Artworks (130)

Self-portrait
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Giordano, Luca (Copy)
Carlos II a caballo
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Giordano, Luca
Perseo y Andrómeda
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Giordano, Luca
Jacob y Raquel en el pozo
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1653
Giordano, Luca
El sacrificio de Isaac
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1653
Giordano, Luca
The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist
Oil on panel, Ca. 1655
Giordano, Luca
San Francisco Javier
Oil on canvas, Second half of the XVII century
Giordano, Luca
Susana y los viejos
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1656
Giordano, Luca
San Andrés
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1658
Giordano, Luca

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