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Giuseppe Cesari

Arpino 1568 - 1640 Rome
Price range
250,000 – 3,000,000 USD
Giuseppe Cesari, also known as the Cavaliere d’Arpino, was among the last exponents of mannerism in Rome.

A virtuoso draftsman, Cesari is chiefly remembered for his large fresco cycles and altarpieces for the Papal family, as well as for being the teacher of Caravaggio.

Born into a family of painters in Arpino, Giuseppe Cesari arrived in Rome in 1582, age thirteen. He assisted Niccolò Circignani in the decoration of the third Vatican Logge, where his earliest work can be found. In recognition of his precocious talents, Cesari was admitted to the Confraternità dei Virtuosi del Pantheon in 1586 and his career took off thereafter. In the early 1590s Cesari developed a grand, epic style of painting in which large groups of figures are presented with narrative clarity and a sense of controlled chaos, much to the liking of the Church. Leading up to the holy year of 1600 Cesari was entrusted by Pope Clement VIII with decorating the two most important Roman basilicas­– Saint Peters in the Vatican and San Giovanni in Laterano–as well as managing a team of painters and artisans to work alongside him. The title of Cavaliere di Cristo was conferred to him as a result. At the height of his career, Cesari was the preeminent painter of history and ceremonial paintings in Rome. He also painted smaller works for private patrons, often experimenting with a variety of supports such copper and slate.

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Selected artworks

Top 3 auction prices

443,037 $
492,500 $
834,000 $


The sales are: Sotheby’s Paris – 26 June 2014 lot 21 (325,500 EUR), Christie’s New York – 30 January 2018 lot 27, and Christie’s New York – 14 October 2021 lot 23 (work on paper).
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Books on Giuseppe Cesari

Marco Simone Bolzoni, Il Cavalier Giuseppe Cesari d’Arpino. Maestro del design. Catalogo ragionato dell’opera grafica, Rome, 2013.

Herwarth Röttgen, Il Cavalier Giuseppe Cesari D’Arpino. Un grande pittore nello splendore della fama e nell’incostanza della fortuna, Rome, 2002.

Herwarth Röttgen, Il Cavalier d’Arpino, exh. cat., Rome, 1973.

Notable exhibitions

New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Age of Caravaggio, 5 Feb –14 April 1985; travelled to Naples, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, 12 May – 30 June 1985. Curated by Mina Gregori, et al.

Rome, Palazzo Venezia, Il Cavalier d’Arpino. June – July 1973. Curated by Herwarth Röttgen.

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