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Bernardo Cavallino

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Bernardo Cavallino
17th-century Neapolitan
(Naples, Italy, 1616 - 1654/1656, Naples, Italy)

Cavallino was the finest painter in mid 17th-century Naples. His style represents a fusion of two unalloyed currents: a sharp tenebrism descending from Caravaggio’s late production for the city, and a persistent Mannerist idiom of eccentric construction and complex rhythm. Thus, while his conception of form was fully naturalistic, his habits of design remained quite arbitrary. This combination of intense chiaroscuro and selectively brilliant color with elegant patterning and lyrical drawing is distinctive, often very beautiful, and appealing. So are Cavallino’s personalities, consonantly authentic but oblique to the point of slyness or quirky humor. Intimate in scale and feeling, his work consists mostly of cabinet pictures of biblical subject and devotional portraits.

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