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Solimena was a pupil of Francesco Guarino. One of his earliest paintings is the Pentecost, dated 1654, in San Michele in Solofra, the town in which Guarnino also worked. Solimena later worked in Nocera Inferiore, where he painted a Deposition in the church of San Matteo in 1664, and Gravina, where he painted the Madonna and Saints in the church of the Purgatorio .
In 1674-5 he painted a series of frescoes in the church of San Giorgio in Salerno, and visited Naples at around the same time. He worked in collaboration with his son, Francesco, on the Vision of St Cyril of Alexandria at the church of San Domenico in Solofra.
He later worked at Sarno, where he painted the vaults and other pictures at the cathedral.