Mattia Preti


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(b Taverna, 24 Feb. 1613; d Valletta, Malta, 3 Jan. 1699).

Italian Baroque painter. He came from the Calabria region of southern Italy (hence his nickname) and his busy career took him to many different parts of Italy; he is also said to have visited Flanders and Spain, but these journeys are not documented. His early work includes groups of musicians and card-players, strongly Caravaggesque in style, but later he excelled mainly in frescos on religious subjects. In this field his main model was Lanfranco, whom he succeeded in the decoration of S. Andrea della Valle in Rome (1650–1). After the plague of 1656 carried off virtually a whole generation of artists in Naples, Preti worked with great success there, gaining many important commissions. They included a series of seven frescos commemorating the plague for the city gates; they no longer survive, but two modelli for them are in the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples and give some idea of how powerful the huge frescos must have been. In 1661 Preti moved to Malta, where he lived for the rest of his life. Several churches on the island, including the cathedral of Valletta, have decorations by him.

Subjects: Art.

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