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Bernardo Strozzi

'Il prete Genoese'

The Cook, by Bernardo Strozzi

Born in Genoa, Bernardo Strozzi (c. 1581 – 1644) took his vows as a Capuchin monk at age 17, but a few years later left the convent to support his widowed mother by painting, a vocation he loved. After his mother's death, he was pressured to return to his convent and was imprisoned for illegal painting (presumably for not belonging to the guild), but in 1631 he took refuge in more tolerant Venice, where he spent the rest of his life, known by his nickname 'the Genoese priest.'

Initially inspired by Caravaggio's penumbra and strong emotions, and by the fleshiness of Rubens, who left a number of works in Genoa, Strozzi was influenced by the drama and colour of Venice's great 16th-century masters and soon adjusted his style and palette to appeal to the local taste. Johann Lys was another important influence.

He became famous in Venice with his portrait of Claudio Monteverdi (now in the Accademia) and went on to have a successful career painting large altarpieces. One of his best works in Venice is the Charity of St Lawrence in San Nicolò da Tolentino; also see the Fondazione Querini Stampanilia.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Image by ho visto nina volare