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Salvator Rosa

Naples 1615 - 1673 Rome
Price range
250,000 – 3,000,000 USD
Salvator Rosa was one of the boldest and most powerfully imaginative Italian artists of the seventeenth century.

Known as ‘savage Rosa’, he was a precursor of Romanticism and a painter of wild landscapes, where bandits and hermits lurk among shattered trees and rocks. He also painted dramatic self-portraits, bizarre scenes of witchcraft, philosophers and lyrical female allegories.

Rosa was born near Naples where he embarked upon a career as a painter under the tutelage of the Riberesque artist Francesco Francanzano (1612–56). He then worked with Aniello Falcone (1600–65), a specialist in battle-scenes, a genre in which Rosa would also excel. His biographer records that Rosa would go out into the country with Falcone and sketch scenes from nature in oils on paper, making him one of the earliest exponents of the plein-air sketch.

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Selected artworks

Top 3 auction prices

460,607 $
702,370 $
1,163,965 $


The sales are: Christie’s Paris – 17 Dec 2003 lot 15 (371,250 EUR; work on paper), Christie’s London – 15 Apr 1992 lot 45 (400,000 GBP), and Christie’s London 6 Jul 2010 lot 00006 (769,250 GBP).
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Notable exhibitions

London, Dulwich Picture GallerySalvator Rosa: Bandits, Wilderness and Magic, 15 September – 28 November 2010; travelled to Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum, 12 December 2010 – 27 March 2011. Curated by Helen Langdon, Xavier F. Salomon and Caterina Volpi.

Naples, Museo di Capodimonte, Salvator Rosa: Tra Mito e Magia, 19 April – 29 June 2008. Curated by Nicola Spinosa, Marco Chiarini, Brigitte Daprà, Helen Langdon, Wolfgang Prohaska, Aurora Spinosa and Caterina Volpi.

Warwick, Compton VerneySalvator Rosa: Wild Landscapes, 25 March – 5 June 2005; travelled to London, Wallace Collection, 23 June – 18 September 2005. Curated by Susan Jenkins.

London, Hayward Gallery, Salvator Rosa, 17 October – 23 December 1973. Curated by Michael Kitson, Helen Langdon, Michael Mahoney and Richard Wallace.


Books on Salvator Rosa

Caterina Volpi, Salvator Rosa (1615-1673) ‘Pittore Famoso’, Rome, 2014.

Helen Langdon, Xavier F. Salomon and Caterina Volpi, Salvator Rosa (1615–1673): Bandits, Wilderness and Magic, exh. cat. London, 2010.

Jonathan Scott, Salvator Rosa, His Life and Times, New Haven, 1995.

Filippo Baldinucci, Notizie de’ professori del disegno da Cimabue in qua, per le quali si dimostra come, e per chi le bell’ arti di pittura, scultura, e architettura, lasciata la rozzezza delle maniere greca e gottica, si siano in questi secoli ridotte all’antica loro perfezione, 1681, reprint Milan, 1808-12.

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