Italian baroque painter, etcher, poet, and musician. Active in Florence 1640–49 and subsequently in Rome, he is important for having created a new style of landscape, wild, romantic, and sometimes macabre. He also wrote satirical verse. His Self Portrait (about 1645; National Gallery, London) is characteristically intense and theatrical.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries he was considered the archetype of the Romantic artist, passionate and rebellious. His landscapes influenced the pictureque landscapes of 18th-century English taste, and other works, such as his bizarre studies of witchcraft, had a strong impact on the development of late 18th-century Gothic taste, particularly in the novel. Good examples of his art are Saul and the Witch of Endor and Battlepiece (both Louvre, Paris), and The Bridge (Pitti, Florence).
Born near Naples, Rosa studied art under an uncle, Paolo Greco, and his father-in-law, Francesco Fracanzo (a follower of José de Ribera). The painter Giovanni Lanfranco bought his Hagar, and started him on a prosperous career. He worked mainly in Rome with an interval in Florence, 1642–47, being invited there by the Duke of Tuscany.
His invention of a new type of romantic art – typically rocky landscapes with ruins and cloaked, banditlike figures – was inspired by southern Italy. Following the example of the Italian artist Aniello Falcone (1600–1656), he also painted some battle scenes.
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