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.
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.