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Mattia Preti Biography(b. 1613, Taverna Calabria, d. 1699, La Valleta)
Mattia Preti (also called Il Cavaliere Calabrese) was an Italian Baroque painter. Mattia Preti came from Taverna in Calabria (hence his nickname) and his prolific career took him to many different parts of Italy (and according to an early biographer to Spain and Flanders). Mattia Preti left Calabria to join his brother Gregorio, also a painter, in Rome. Mattia Preti met with such outstanding success that within a short time Preti Mattia had become one of the most authoritative southern artists of the second half of the seventeenth century.
The early Mattia Preti works includes
groups of musicians and card-players,
strongly Caravaggesque in style, but later
Mattia Preti excelled mainly in frescos on religious
subjects. In this field his main model was
Lanfranco, whom Mattia Preti succeeded in the
decoration of S. Andrea della Valle in Rome
|During most of the late 1650s, Mattia Preti worked in Naples, where he was influenced by the other major Neapolitan painter of his era, Luca Giordano (1634 – 1705). One of Preti's masterpieces were a series of large frescoes, ex-votos of the plague (which were painted on seven city gates, but have since been lost to the ravages of time), depicting the Virgin or saints delivering people from the plague. Two sketches are in the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. The bozzeto of the Virgin with the baby Jesus looming over the dying and their burial parties envisions a Last Judgment presided over by a woman. Mattia Preti also won a commission to supervise the construction, carving, and gilding for the nave and transept of San Pietro a Maiella.|
Having been made a Knight of Grace in the
Order of St. John, Mattia Preti visited the order’s
headquarters in Malta in 1659 and spent most
of the remainder of his life there. Preti
transformed the interior of St. John's
Co-Cathedral in Valletta, with a huge series
of Mattia Preti paintings on the life and martyrdom of
St. John the Baptist, between 1661 and 1666.
His increased reputation led to an expanded
circle of patrons, and Mattia Preti received commissions from
all over Europe.
Preti was fortunate to enjoy a long career and have a considerable artistic output. Mattia Preti paintings, representative of the exuberant late Baroque style, are held by many great museums, including important collections in Naples, Valletta, and in his hometown of Taverna. In the Uffizi Gallery is his allegorical piece, Vanity.
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