His style often oscillated between the two, perhaps depending on the needs of his patrons. Preti was a prolific artist who is estimated to have produced about seven hundred paintings throughout his career in Rome, Naples and Malta.
Mattia Preti left Calabria for Rome around 1630 where he discovered the work of the great Caravaggio followers, Bartolomeo Manfredi (1582–1622), Valentin de Boulogne (1591–1632) and Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652). Their influence is particularly apparent in his early Caravaggesque works characterised by the master’s naturalism and chiaroscuro. Preti painted genre scenes in the fashionable style of Manfredi, producing numerous paintings of merriment in taverns, such as The Concert (1630/35) in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid and The Game of Draughts (ca. 1635) at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Unlike Manfredi, however, Preti understood that Caravaggio’s bravi have an inner life which he introduced into his own protagonists.
Books on Mattia Preti
Keith Sciberras, Caravaggio to Mattia Preti: Baroque Painting in Malta, 2015.
Sandro Debono and Giuseppe Valentino, Mattia Preti: Faith and Humanity, Valletta, 2013.
Keith Sciberras and Vittorio Sgarbi, Il Cavalier Calabrese: Mattia Preti tra Caravaggio e Luca Giordano, Milano 2013.
John T. Spike, Michèle K. Spike, Mattia Preti: Catalogo ragionato dei ipiniti – Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Taverna, 1999.
John T. Spike and Giuseppe Valentino, Mattia e Gregorio Preti a Taverna: Catalogo complete delle opera – Catalogue Raisonné of their Paintings in Taverna, Taverna, 1997.
Erminia Corace, ed., Mattia Preti, Rome, 1989.
Clovis Whitfield and Jane Martineau, eds., Painting in Naples, 1606–1705: From Caravaggio to Giordano, exh. cat. London, 1982.
John T. Spike, Italian Baroque Paintings from New York Private Collections, exh. cat. Princeton, 1980.
Lione Pascoli, Vite de̓ pittori, scultori, ed architetti moderni, 1730/36, reprint Perguia, 1992.