A personification of Fortune bestows symbols of wealth, status, and power on dumb animals who neither need nor deserve them. Fortune is usually represented with a blindfold, but Salvator Rosa showed her fully aware of her favors. Similarly, the cornucopia is usually shown facing upward; by depicting it overturned, Rosa expressed reckless extravagance.
Gosh, I can't imagine why the Pope didn't want to sponsor him. But if you're a good enough painter, your sour grapes may one day end up hanging in a major museum. And yes, Rosa was an interesting character.
Despite living three hundred years before the Romantic movement, Rosa--a poet, satirist, composer, etcher, and painter--epitomized the Romantic rebel. He refused to paint on commission or to agree on a price beforehand, and he chose his own subjects. He painted in order "to be carried away by the transports of enthusiasm and use my brushes only when I feel myself rapt." Rosa studied in Naples, where Jusepe Ribera's realism influenced him. Encouraged by Giovanni Lanfranco, Rosa went to Rome in 1635. A bout with malaria drove him back to Naples, but he returned in 1639, resolving "to have his name on everybody's lips." His amateur theatrical group lampooned the sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini, prompting Rosa's quick departure. In Florence he enjoyed Medici patronage and founded the Accademia dei Percossi (Academy of the Afflicted), a crossroads for literati and artists. Rosa considered his innovative, rugged landscapes as mere recreation; in his mind only religious or historical subjects constituted "High Art." In 1649 he settled in Rome to work toward success as a history painter.
Thanks! Nice change of pace -- aside from Artemisia Gentileschi, 17th century Italian painters get no love.
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