Bernardo de Dominici


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(1683–1759). Neapolitan art historian. The son of a minor painter, he was himself an undistinguished painter of Bamboccianti pictures and landscapes. His main work was the Vite de'pittori, scultori ed architetti napolitani, published in three volumes 1742–5. In the manner of Vasari, the Vite sought to establish an ancestry and structured progression in Neapolitan art, culminating in de Dominici's hero Solimena. De Dominici was soon vilified for inaccuracy, the fabrication of documentary sources, and the invention or perpetuation of tall stories such as the preposterous notion of a ‘Company of Death’ of revolutionary artists led by Aniello Falcone (1607–56) at the time of Masaniello's revolt. In recent years the Vasarian conventions governing his work have been better understood. His subtle illumination of the artistic purposes of the artists close to his own time, his deeply felt response to their art, and his information about the contemporary art world are now seen as making him the indispensable source for the period, though his factual unreliability remains manifest.

From The Oxford Companion to Western Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.

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