Salvatore Rosa (1615 – 1673) is not the Baroque painter most prominent or best known, far from it. But it is true that he has two splendid works worth knowing. One of them is this one in which he portrays himself around the year 1645 and which today is kept in theNational Gallery in London. And another would be the couple in this work, in which he paints his beloved, Lucrecia. Both paintings are currently separate, as it is kept in a museum in Connecticut, United States. Although they originally formed a couple and hung in the palace of a we althy Florentine family, since they were not portraits per se, but two symbolic effigies.
Self-portrait of Salvatore Rosa
In Lucrecia's painting he turns her into the personification of poetry. While in the self-portrait she appears to us as “silence”. The tablet that can be read in her hands alludes to this: “Shut up unless your words are more eloquent than silence.”
Somehow it's a very intellectual attitude of this character. And it is that Salvatore Rosa in his life was a poet, actor, painter, engraver, musician and also a writer.
To introduce himself, he introduces himself as a philosopher, as both his suit and his hat relate to the scholars of the time. He wears a dark cloak, which equates him to the personification of "Silence" in a poem by one of thepoets of theRenaissance Most Revered: Ariosto. A character who at the time was portrayed by none other than Tiziano himself.
Salvatore Rosa is known to have trained as a painter in Naples. But his ambitious nature soon led him toRoma. However, that same character did not help him to succeed and generated enmities both with other painters and with his possible clientele. A good example is that he had to go toFlorence, where he worked for theMedicis. But when he talked about them he didn't hesitate to say that he despised them.
The truth is that Rosa does not seem to be comfortable in his time. And that is also manifested in this painting. For example, for his self-portrait he is not inspired by the beauty ideal of the 17th century. He always claimed the freedom of the artist.
This is manifested in his portraits and in other landscape works of his, in which, in order to contradict his contemporaries, he poses landscapes that are not at all peaceful. He prefers to paint wild jungles or mountains. It is clear that for all this he did not reach very high levels of triumph in life. And yet, in the following century and even in the 19th he was greatly admired for his untamed character and many of his rather macabre paintings were much to the taste of Romanticism