Salvator Rosa
Italian painter and poet



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Salvator Rosa
Italian painter and poet
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Date of Birth

June 20, 1615

Place of Birth

Naples, Italy

Date of Death

~ March 1673

Place of Death

Rome, Italy

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Salvator Rosa possessed a rebel spirit, and he used it to make art unlike anything else being done in his time.

Rosa quickly became famous for his depictions of epic landscapes and seascapes, which many historians believe were inspired by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1631. The eruption killed over 3,000 people, and it makes sense to think that this would inspire the dangerous landscapes Rosa composed throughout his life. He also painted large scenes of violent bandits, a real problem faced by citizens of the Spanish empire as they attempted to travel through the countrysides of Italy. Rosa depicted large scenes full of witches and sorcerers performing various methods of magic as well (a controversial and rebellious choice for an artist in the midst of the European witch craze). It’s unclear whether the paintings were serious or satirical in regard to witchcraft, but Rosa would denounce all three of these types of paintings later on in his life, saying that he only believed in the merits of historical and religious work. I have to call BS on this though, as Rosa sent countless letters throughout his life in regard to how genius his works were.

Rosa was born in 1615, and his father died when he was young. He grew up in a poor family, and even when he achieved later fame, he always remained critical of the wealthy. He famously pointed out the hypocrisy of the patron classes for purchasing paintings of homeless people but refusing to even look at them when they passed in the streets (a critique that still rings eerily true today).

He studied first in Naples under Jusepe de Ribera, before moving around Italy throughout his life. While in Florence, he was paid by Medici money and he founded his own pretentious circle of artists/writers/musicians who he referred to as the Accademia dei Percossi.

Rosa was a man of many talents and successfully dabbled in arts of all forms. The result was that he became a successful poet, actor, musician, and satirist. One enamored friend described his prowess as an actor saying, “Whenever he moves or speaks, he dislocates the audience's jaws.” In one instance however, Rosa played a satirical version of the renowned sculptor Bernini, who never forgave Rosa for his scathing imitation. They went on to become enemies from that point forward.

Throughout his life, Rosa remained incredibly stubborn and Romantic about his art. He refused to work on commissions or decide on prices before a piece was complete. This passion and resolve to be himself fueled his completely unique work up until the last decade of his life when he contracted malaria. He then moved to Rome where he shifted his subject matter from witches, bandits, and foreboding nature to more historical and religious works.




  1. Britannica Academic, s.v. "Salvator Rosa," accessed February 4, 2019,
  2. Hall, James. "Salvator Rosa at Dulwich Picture Gallery." The Guardian. September 10, 2010. Accessed February 04, 2019.
  3. "Salvator Rosa (Italian, 1615 - 1673) (Getty Museum)." The Photography of Ray K. Metzker and the Institute of Design (Getty Center Exhibitions). Accessed February 04, 2019.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Salvator Rosa

Salvator Rosa (June 20 or July 21, 1615 – March 15, 1673) was an Italian Baroque painter, poet, and printmaker, who was active in Naples, Rome, and Florence. As a painter, he has been described as "unorthodox and extravagant" as well as being a "perpetual rebel" and a proto-Romantic.

Early life

Rosa was born in Arenella, at that time in the outskirts of Naples, on either June 20 or July 21, 1615. His mother was Giulia Greca Rosa, a member of one of the Greek families of Sicily. His father, Vito Antonio de Rosa, a land surveyor, urged his son to become a lawyer or a priest, and entered him into the convent of the Somaschi Fathers. Yet Salvator showed a preference for the arts and secretly worked with his maternal uncle Paolo Greco to learn about painting. He soon transferred himself to the tutelage of his brother-in-law Francesco Fracanzano, a pupil of Ribera, and afterward to either Aniello Falcone, a contemporary of Domenico Gargiulo, or to Ribera. Some sources claim he spent time living with roving bandits. At the age of seventeen, his father died; his mother was destitute with at least five children and Salvator found himself without financial support and the head of a household looking to him for support.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Salvator Rosa.