Luca Giordano, Naples 1634 - 1705
The exuberant and versatile oeuvre of Luca Giordano marks a high point of the Italian Baroque. A leading painter in eighteenth-century Naples, Giordano was nicknamed “Luca Fa Presto” (Luke works quickly) owing to the extraordinary speed with which he worked and his consequently prodigious output. In addition to grand fresco cycles, he produced a great number of easel paintings and was a prolific draughtsman. Although his earliest works were markedly characterized by the tenebrism of Ribera, who may have been his teacher, Giordano soon earned a reputation for the effortless eloquence of his painting, and especially for his protean facility in imitating the style of other painters. Although he worked chiefly in Naples, Giordano travelled extensively within Italy, and it was during these sojourns that he began to assimilate an array of painterly styles reflecting the varied traditions of the Italian peninsula. Giordano made his first visit to Rome about 1652, and there he absorbed the Baroque art of Pietro da Cortona. In Venice in 1655, the work of Paolo Veronese inspired the lightening of Giordano’s palette and a newfound decorative elegance. Giordano was summoned by Charles II to Madrid in 1692, and he remained in Spain for a decade, executing major decorative cycles in Madrid and Toledo, and at the Escorial. Following his return to Naples in 1702, Giordano continued to be highly active despite his advancing age. Airy and luminous, his final works presage the Rococo style that would dominate the new century.