Giuseppe Maria Crespi


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(b Bologna, 14 Mar. 1665; d Bologna, 25 Mar. 1747).

Bolognese painter. His nickname (‘the Spaniard’) was given to him in his student days because of his manner of dress. He reacted against the academic tradition in which he was trained (Cignani was one of his teachers) and is now best known for low-life genre scenes. They are in the tradition of the everyday-life paintings of the Carracci, but go far beyond them in their sombre gravity and sense of unvarnished reality (The Hamlet, c.1705, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna). He also painted many other subjects, and after the death of his wife in 1722 he became very pious and concentrated on religious works. From this time he became reclusive, rarely leaving his house except to go to Mass, but earlier in his career he had travelled a good deal in Italy; he had an international reputation and was particularly influential on Venetian painters, most notably Piazzetta. Rudolf Wittkower called him ‘the only real genius of the late Bolognese school’.

Subjects: Art.

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