Pesaro 1612 – Verona
Simone Cantarini was strongly influenced by Guido Reni in both painting and etching. Cantarini, even as a boy showed a predilection for drawing. At about the age of eleven he was apprenticed to a local artist. Sometime later the young artist went to Venice briefly. In about 1635,Cantarini entered Reni`s studio. It was here that he first began to show great promise as an etcher, working closely with Reni. This led to friction: Cantarini was loath to have his work passed off as the master`s and also rebelled against Reni`s attempt to use him to reproduce Reni`s painting in etching. After a violent break with Reni inabout 1637, Cantarini experienced hard times financially, travelling from Pesaro to Rome to Bologna, for a while earning his living chiefly by selling his etchings. In 1647 he worked, briefly and unhappily, for the Duke of Mantua in that city. He suddenly became ill there and left because of his health, reaching Verona, where he died in 1648.
Genova 1639 – Roma 1709
Giovanni Battista Gaulli began his artistic career in Genova where he saw works by Rubens and Van Dyck and appreciated both their use of colour and the depth of consistency of the paint. He worked in the studio of Andrea Borzone and from 1657 established himself in Rome. He became one of the most appreciated collaborators of Gian Lorenzo Bernini who suggested him for the decoration of the crest in the dome of S. Agenese in Agone and who also introduced him to the Jesuits, thereby obtaining for him the commission for the decoration of the Chiesa del Gesu’ He frescoed the vault in which he painted the “Trionfo del nome di Gesu”, the presbitary and the chapel of S. Ignazio (1674-1679). The frescos in the vault were so well executed that they were considered the painterly equivanlent to Bernini’s altar in St. Peter’s Basilica. Bernini also put Gaulli forward for the altarpiece of S. Andrea al Quirinale and of S. Francesco a Ripa where the influence and baroque taste of the master sculptor is evident. In 1707 he frescoed the vault of the Basilica dei SS. Apostoli with the Triumph of the Fransiscan Order and he made the cartoons for the mosaics in the baptismal chapel of Saint Peter’s Basilica. He also worked in other important churches amongst which S. Rocco in Augusteo, Santa Marta, Santa Maria Maddalena, at palazzo Chigi and naturally in Genova. He was an excellent portraitist and painted Clemet IX and G L Bernini.
Monreale 1603 - Palermo 1645
Sicily's most important painter of the 1600s, Pietro Novelli trained with his father, a painter and mosaicist, then studied painting and perspective in Palermo. Anthony van Dyck's visit to Sicily in 1624 influenced him for life. Van Dyck's altarpiece of the 'Madonna of the Rosary', still in the oratory of Santa Maria del Rosario, in Palermo, encouraged Novelli to lighten his palette, a decision that added elegance to his art. Novelli's travels also made a lasting impact on his work. Visiting Rome, he studied paintings by the famous Italian Renaissance artists. His draftsmanship in particular, with its economical line, graceful curves, and abbreviated forms, shows his exposure to the art of Giovanni Lanfranco. Returning to Sicily in 1637, Novelli painted primarily religious subjects, including canvases and fresco cycles for ecclesiastical institutions and also served as the royal architect.