Giovanni Battista Salvi Sassoferrato Biography1609-1685
Italian Baroque Painter
He is named after his birthplace (Sassoferrato).
The sparse facts that we have on the life of Giovanni Battista Salvi are: 1609 - Salvi is born on 25th August. 1630 - Sassoferrato works at the Benedictine convent of S. Pietro in Perugia. 1643 - Sassoferrato paints the San Sabina altarpiece La Madonna del Rosario 1648 - Sassoferrato marries in Rome and lives in San Salvatore ai Monti. 1649 - Sassoferrato's son Francisco is baptised in Rome. 1683 - Cardinal Chigi presents Sassoferrato’s self-portrait (now in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence) to Cosimo III. 1685- Sassoferrato dies on August 8th. His will is dated 29th June of that year.
Salvi was born in the small town of Sassoferrato in the Marches region of central Italy some half-way between Rome and Florence towards the Adriatic coast. As was the custom of the time he became known by the name of his place of birth, as were Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio.
Sassoferrato served his apprenticeship under his father, the painter Tarquinio Salvi; fragments of Tarquinio's work are still visible in the church of Saint Francis in the town of Sassoferrato. The rest of Giovanni's education is undocumented though it is thought that he worked under Domenico Zampieri (1581 Bologna - 1641 Naples), known as Domenichino, who was himself strongly influenced by the Carracci family of Bologna (c 1580) in their Academy of the Progressives. Through the Carracci Academy can be traced an influence on Sassoferrato by Francesco Albani (1578 Bologna - 1660 Bologna) and by Guido Reni (1575 Bologna - 1642 Bologna). In Francis Russell's view, Reni was as much Sassoferrato's mentor as Domenichino was his master.
As well as artists with whom Sassoferrato may have worked, his paintings also show the influence of such painters as Pierre Mignard (1612 Troyes - 1668 Paris) - it is possible that Mignard and Sassoferrato met in Rome in the 1630s, Albrect Durer (1471 Nuremberg - 1528 Nuremberg), Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (1591 Cento - 1666 Bologna), called Guercino, and above all Raphael (1483 Urbino - 1520 Rome) and Raphael's master Pietro di Cristofano Vannucci (c1452 Citta della Pieve - 1523 Fontignano) called Perugino.
Sassoferrato has left record of few public commissions and he seems to have spent the prime of his productive life producing multiple copies of various styles of devotional image for private patrons, a demand fuelled by the counter-reformational drive of the Catholic Church. Sassoferrato's work was held in high regard through to the mid-nineteenth century reaction against sweet devotional art work reinforced in England by the critical commentary of John Ruskin (1819-1900).
The late twentieth century saw a revival of interest in Italian Baroque archaizing painting with the redoubtable Guido Reni's strength of reputation leading the way generating a surge of auction interest also in Sassoferrato.
There are over three hundred works by Sassoferrato in public exhibition spaces in 2006 throughout the world including almost all of his extant drawings in the Royal collection at Windsor in England.
Sassoferrato's most imposing work in situ is the altarpiece The Madonna of the Rosary in the Basilica of Santa Sabina all'Aventino, Rome, ironically a replacement for a supposed Raphael.