Domenico Gargiulo(1610 – 1675) is a tremendously completeBaroque painter, at least in the number of subjects he painted on throughout his life. And it is that although he began doing a lot of landscape and painting of battles, later on he also worked on themes such as religious painting or a curious facet that we can consider as a chronicler of his hometown of Naples, where he spent much of his existence.
The market square in Naples during the plague of Gargiulo
To this last chapter belongs this painting from 1657 en titled The market square in Naples during the plague. An epidemic that the city had suffered the previous year and that decimated the population by almost 50%. But this was not the only painting by Gargiulo that tells us about the Neapolitan history of that century, since before, in 1631, he had painted other works such as The eruption of Vesuvius, as well asThe Massinello Revolt of 1647.
The fact is that this canvas of the plague that is exhibited today in the Museum of San Martino in Naples is an excellent picture of what the population must have suffered. We see scenes of enormous drama in which the dead and plague-ridden accumulate in the street. Although there are characters who charitably try to care for the sick, just as we see the typical gestures of covering their mouths and faces trying to avoidcontagions.
It is a set that shows us the great ability of Domenico Gargiulo to paint crowds. As we have advanced, one of his first formations consisted of making pictures of battles, and there he had to make the figures of numerous soldiers in various attitudes, something that undoubtedly helped him to later execute works like these.
Such was his skill in this field that he allied himself with another painter of the time, originally fromBergamoin northern Italy. That painter wasViviano Codazzi, with whom he formed a tandem in which Codazzi was in charge of painting the architectural backgrounds of the paintings. Scenarios with perfect perspectives and all the formal detail. While Gargiulo was in charge of giving life to that kind of pictorial sets creating the human figures that acted in the place. There are several examples of this peculiar collaboration in different museums in Europe. However, it must be said that this painting of The Market Square in Naples during the Plague is entirely by Gargiulo.
And by the way if someone wonders what is the group of characters surrounded by a golden aura that appears in the sky of the painting, obviously it is a representation of God, who was entrusted to save the city.
One last curiosity, on some occasions there are works by Gargiulo that are awarded toMicco Spadaro, a kind of nickname for the artist and whose origin is in the profession of the father of he, a well-known sword maker.