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Updated:  Aug 12, 2013
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Giovanni Lanfranco

Decorative painter, b. at Parma, 1581; d. in Rome, 1647

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Lanfranco, GIOVANNI, also known as CAVALIERS GIOVANNI M STEFANO, decorative painter, b. at Parma, 1581; d. in Rome, 1647. As a boy Lanfranco was a page at Piacenza in the service of Count Scotti, and developing a talent for drawing was placed by the count under Agostino Carracci, with whom he remained for some years, but before he was sixteen he had painted a picture of the Virgin and Saints, which was so much admired that it was considered worthy of being placed in the church of Sant' Agostino at Piacenza. On the death of Carracci, Lanfranco went to Rome and assisted Annibale Carracci in decorative work in the Farnese Gallery, in the Vatican, and in various Roman churches. By clever scheming, he was able to carry off a commission which had been promised to Domenichino, his great rival, who was born on the same day as himself, and exerting himself to the utmost of his ability to out-do his opponent, he executed in the cupola of Sant' Andrea della Valle his greatest work, representing the Virgin seated in the clouds, and distinguished by grandeur, daring, boldness of design, and masterly coloring. He was then attracted to Naples and was occupied for a couple of years in painting the cupola of San Gennaro, and in carrying out similar work in San Martino. Here again he was the rival of Domenichino, who was at work at the cupola of the treasury when he died, and Lanfranco was employed to finish the fresco, but he destroyed almost all the work of his great rival, excepting the decorations in the angles, and these still remain to prove that with the solitary exception of the cupola in Rome, Domenichino's work was far more accomplished than that of his persistent rival. After executing this work, he returned to Rome, where he spent the remainder of his life, and his productions pleased Urban VIII so much that he conferred upon him the honor of knighthood.

His works can be studied in Madrid, Florence, Paris, Vienna, and Dresden, as well as in the places already mentioned. He left behind him several fine etchings, and a few drawings.

GEORGE CHARLES WILLIAMSON


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