Gaspare Traversi, Naples 1722 - 1770 Rome
A masterful storyteller who brought an acerbic wit to scenes from everyday life, Gaspare Traversi was one of most original painters in the eighteenth century in Italy. Born in Naples, Traversi was apprenticed as a youth to the elderly Francesco Solimena, as well as carefully studying the works of the naturalist painters of the seventeenth century available to him in his native city, from Preti and Ribera to Caracciolo and Francanzano. From 1752 Traversi spent a great deal of time in Rome, residing alternately there and in Naples. Although Traversi undertook religious commissions throughout his career, his signature works are without a doubt his genre paintings. Many such works were populated by the urban elite and emerging middle class, while others still trained an eye on the socially marginalized, offering an unparalleled window into the quotidian realities of the impoverished neighbourhoods of eighteenth-century Naples and Rome. Yet while Traversi generally treated the poor with great sympathy, he portrayed the bourgeoisie wearing the costumes and aping the manners of the aristocracy, presenting their aspirations with satirical and humorous, or sometimes even moralising intent.