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Luca Giordano (1634–1705)

Petit Palais, Paris

14 Nov 2019 - 23 Feb 2020

The Triumph of Neapolitan Painting

A pupil of Jusepe de Ribera in Naples, Giordano found fame in Rome, Florence, and Venice, before spending a decade at the Spanish court. With 120 paintings, this survey reveals how the baroque virtuoso absorbed new influences everywhere he went. Find out more from the Petit Palais’ website.

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Self-portrait (1680), Luca Giordano.

Self-portrait (1680), Luca Giordano. © BPK, Berlin, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/image Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

Born in Naples in 1634, Giordano quickly earned a reputation for fluency in painting, and for his protean ability to imitate the work of others. In this self-portrait, the flair of the brushwork on his scarf lives up to his moniker Luca fa presto (‘Luca paints quickly’).

Apollo and Marsyas (c. 1660), Luca Giordano.

Apollo and Marsyas (c. 1660), Luca Giordano. © Photo Ministero per i beni e le attivita culturali/Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

As a young painter in Naples, Giordano was apprenticed to Jusepe de Ribera, who markedly influenced his style. The composition of this scene of Apollo flaying Marsyas, completed when the artist was around 26, strongly recalls his teacher’s famous depiction of the same subject from 1637.

Sleeping Venus with Cupid and Satyr (c. 1670), Luca Giordano

Sleeping Venus with Cupid and Satyr (c. 1670), Luca Giordano. Photo: © Ministero per i beni e le attivita culturali/Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

In 1665, Giordano joined the Neapolitan painters’ confraternity; he also travelled to Florence and to Venice, remaining in the latter for about six months. It was during this period that he began to assimilate a range of painterly styles from throughout Italy, as reflected in this painting of sleeping Venus, which combines Neapolitan dramatic naturalism with a palette and composition reminiscent of the Venetian Titian.

Perseus victorious over Medusa (1698), Luca Giordano.

Perseus victorious over Medusa (1698), Luca Giordano. Photo: © Museo Nacional del Prado, Dist. RMN-GP/image du Prado

In 1692, Giordano was summoned by Charles II to Madrid, where he became court painter. Commissioned to fresco the cathedral in Toledo in 1698, he returned to a more three-dimensional, Roman style, exploring architectural illusion; this mythical scene of Perseus defeating Medusa, dating to this period, demonstrates this transition.

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