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  • NameGiuseppe Maria Crespi
  • Activity/Titlepainter, etsare, printmaker
  • Sexmale
  • Variant namesGiuseppe Maria Crespi
  • Nationality/DatesItalian, born 1665-03-14, dead 1747-03-25
  • PlacesPlace of birth: Bologna, Italien
    Place of death: Bologna, Italien
BiographyGiuseppe Maria Crespi was steeped in the tradition
of the Carracci, yet due to a wide range of
influences, and possibly a lack of artistic prejudice,
he developed an idiosyncratic and instantly
recognizable style of his own. Clearly influenced
by Annibale’s figure drawing, he drew no less
inspiration from Ludovico’s emphasis on dramatic
compositions, highlighted with bold colours.
From 1681, Crespi attended an “Accademia
del nudo” held in the studio of the Bolognese
caposcuola, Carlo Cignani, and from 1686 he was
accepted as a student proper. Cignani’s influence
on Crespi’s work, however, was limited to the
early part of his career, as Crespi soon moved
away from his clear and finely delineated academism.
He studied under the Bolognese fresco
painter Domenico Maria Canuti (1625‒1684) and
later collaborated with Canuti’s other student,
Giovanni Antonio Burrini (1656‒1727). From
these painters, Crespi adopted zest and brio in
his brushwork. Through the patronage of the
wealthy merchant Giovanni Ricci, Crespi was
able to travel extensively to study the great 16thand
17th-century masters. In Venice, he studied
Veronese, Titian and Bassano; in Parma, Correggio
and Parmigianino; and in Urbino, the work
of Federico Barocci. Possibly Ricci’s patronage
also meant that he was free to develop his interest
in genre painting. Crespi’s strong emphasis
on colour, and its exact application in differing
shades, seems to have derived from a study of the
Venetian painters, in particular Veronese, but
also from the late Renaissance master Barocci, in
particular the latter’s ability to infuse his paintings
with light-saturated tonal qualities. These
influences are particularly evident in paintings
such as The Wedding at Cana in the Art Institute
of Chicago. Later, Crespi also assimilated Guercino’s
handling of light and its application in typical
Bolognese classicist compositions. Crespi formed
his own school, and amongst his most prominent
students was Antonio Gionima (1697‒1732). By
the 1690s, Crespi was established as an artist in
Bologna, receiving prestigious commissions from
clients such as Prince Eugene of Savoy. A commission
to replace Lanfranco’s altarpiece in the
church of Santa Maria Nuova, Cortona, brought
him into contact with another influential patron,
Grand Duke Ferdinand di Medici, for whom he
later painted The Massacre of the Innocents and
several genre paintings, the most famous of which
is the Fair at Poggio a Caiano in the Uffizi. The
commissions he received from the Medici court
in Florence enabled Crespi to study a wide range
of artists and genres, for example at the Palazzo
Pitti. Perhaps to some extent this accounts for the
extraordinary versatility and variety of his work.
Madonna and Child
The Triumph of Silenus
Diana and her Nymphs
Massacre of the Innocents