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  • NamePaolo Porpora
  • Sexmale
  • Nationality/DatesItalian, born 1617, dead 1673
BiographyPaolo Porpora was born in Naples. At the age
of fifteen he entered the workshop of Giacomo
Recco (1603–before 1653), remaining there for
three years. It is possible that after this period
he joined the workshop of Aniello Falcone
(1600–1665). In time, Porpora became acquainted
with two Dutch still-life painters active in
Naples, Marseus van Schrieck (c. 1619–1678) and
Matthias Withoos (1627–1703). Perhaps through
the influence of these artists, Porpora found his
own particular artistic expression, often focusing
on the more sinister aspects of the undergrowth
in his still lifes. Typical of his compositions is
the contrasting interplay between reptiles or
amphibians, such as vipers, lizards and toads,
and insects, depicted against a backdrop of fungi,
thistles, shells and ferns. In paintings of sea- or
lakeshores, there are peculiar crayfish and shells
instead. In 1656 Porpora joined the Accademia
San Luca in Rome, and his documented participation
in the academy’s congregations during the
ensuing years confirms that he was active in that
city as well as in Naples. In 1666 he also joined
the Virtuosi of the Pantheon and received commissions
from the Chigi family. In some paintings
he seems to have assimilated the fine finish
and rich colours of the Roman tradition, exemplified
in the work of Mario de’ Fiori (1603–1673),
but he always retained his Neapolitan feel for the
depiction of materials through an intense and
meticulous rendering of their texture and form.
Still Life with Serpents, Fly Agarics and Thistles
Still Life with Serpents, Fly Agarics and Thistles