Luca Giordano

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Luca Giordano
Self-portrait, c. 1692
Born(1634-10-18)18 October 1634
Died3 January 1705(1705-01-03) (aged 70)
Naples, Kingdom of Naples
Other namesLuca fa presto
Known forPainting

Luca Giordano (18 October 1634 – 3 January 1705)[1] was an Italian late-Baroque painter and printmaker in etching. Fluent and decorative, he worked successfully in Naples, Rome, Florence, and Venice, before spending a decade in Spain.

Early life and training[edit]

Luca Giordano
Venus and Mars, c. 1670s
Democritus, 1690, Hamburger Kunsthalle
Resurrection, after 1665, Residenzgalerie, Salzburg
Dream of Solomon, c. 1694–1695
The Rape of Lucretia, 1663
Alegoría del Toisón de Oro, Casón del Buen Retiro, Madrid, c. 1694

Born in Naples, Giordano was the son of the painter Antonio Giordano.[2] In around 1650 he was apprenticed to Ribera[3] on the recommendation of the viceroy of Naples[4] and his early work was heavily influenced by his teacher. Like Ribera, he painted many half-length figures of philosophers, either imaginary portraits of specific figures, or generic types.[5]

He acquired the nickname Luca fa presto, which translates into "Luca paints quickly." His speed, in design as well as handiwork, and his versatility, which enabled him to imitate other painters deceptively, earned for him two other epithets, "The Thunderbolt" (Fulmine) and "The Proteus" of painting.[4]

Following a period studying in Rome, Parma and Venice, Giordano developed an elaborate Baroque style fusing Venetian and Roman influences. His mature work combines the ornamental pomp of Paul Veronese with the lively complex schemes, the "grand manner", of Pietro da Cortona. He is also noted for his lively and showy use of colour.[4]


In 1682–1683 Giordano painted various fresco series in Florence, including one in the dome of the Corsini Chapel of Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence. In the large block occupied by the former Medici palace, he painted the ceiling of the Biblioteca Riccardiana (Allegory of Divine Wisdom) and the long gallery of the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi. The vast frescoes of the latter are contained in the 1670s gallery addition, overlooking the gardens. The planning was overseen by Alessandro Segni and commissioned by Francesco Riccardi. They include the prototypic hagiographic celebration of the Medici family in the center, surrounded by a series of interlocking narratives: allegorical figures (the Cardinal Virtues, the Elements of Nature) and mythological episodes (Neptune and Amphitrita, The Rape of Proserpine, The Triumphal procession of Bacchus, The Death of Adonis, Ceres and Triptolemus).[6]

Court painter in Spain (1692–1702)[edit]

In 1692 Giordano went to Spain at the invitation of Charles II. He stayed there for ten years, returning to Naples in 1702, following Charles' death. While in Spain, he painted major decorative schemes at the Buen Retiro Palace, El Escorial, the sacristry of Toledo Cathedral and the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. The Allegory of the Golden Fleece, a c. 1694 fresco on the ceiling of the Casón del Buen Retiro is one of the possible reasons given for the building having survived when most of the other Buen Retiro palace complex buildings were demolished in the nineteenth century, now it's an annex of the Prado Museum Complex that holds a library for researchers. He also painted part of the frescoes at the Church of Saint Anthony of the Germans and many pictures for the court, private patrons and churches.[7] His pupils, Aniello Rossi and Matteo Pacelli, assisted him in Spain.

Giordano was popular at the Spanish court, and the king granted him the title of "caballero".[4] His works can be seen all around Madrid, and the Museo del Prado[8] houses a large compilation of his works. Not far from there, the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando[9] owns several of his works and in the neighboring Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum there is a Judging of Salomon[10] long term loan, belonging to Baroness Carmen Thyssen Private Collection.

Late work in Naples[edit]

After his return to Naples early in 1702, Giordano continued to paint prolifically.[7] Executed in a lighter, less rhetorical style, these late works, prefiguring Rococo, proved influential throughout the eighteenth century, and were admired by Fragonard.[7]

He spent large sums in acts of munificence, and was particularly liberal to poorer artists. One of his maxims was that the good painter is the one whom the public like, and that the public are attracted more by colour than by design.[4]

Giordano had an astonishing facility, which often lead to an impression of superficiality of his works. He left many works in Rome, and far more in Naples. Of the latter, his Christ expelling the Traders from the Temple in the church of the Padri Girolamini, a colossal work, full of expressive "lazzaroni" or beggars from Naples; also the frescoes of the Triumph of Judith at San Martino[1], and those in the Tesoro della Certosa, including the subject of Moses and the Brazen Serpent; and the cupola paintings in the Church of Santa Brigida. This church contains the artist's own tomb. Other notable examples are the Judgment of Paris formerly in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, but destroyed in World War II, and Christ with the Doctors in the Temple, in the Palazzo Corsini, Rome. In later years, he painted influential frescoes for the Cappella Corsini, the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi and other works.[4]

Giordano died in Naples in 1705. Sources differ as to whether he died on 3 January or 12 January 1705.


His best pupils in painting were Paolo de Matteis and Nicola Malinconico. However, his influence, like his travels and career, were broad and prolific. For example, he is said to have influenced in Venice, Sebastiano Ricci, Giovan Battista Langetti, Giovanni Coli, and Filippo Gherardi.[11] Other pupils included Juan Antonio Boujas, Nunzio Ferraiuoli (Nunzio degli Afflitti), Ansel Fiammingo (il Franceschitto or Francesquitto), Giovanni Battista Lama, Andrea Miglionico, Giuseppe Simonelli, Andrea Vicenti, Andrea Viso,[12] Tommaso Fasano, Tommaso Giaquinto, Domenico di Marino, Pedro de Calabria, Matteo Pacelli, Francisco Tramulles, Nicolo Maria Rossi, Aniello Rossi,[13] and Raimondo de Dominici.[14]

As a young man, Giordano engraved works with considerable skill, including some of his own paintings, such as the Slaughter of the Priests of Baal. He also painted much on the crystal borderings of looking-glasses, cabinets and others seen in many Italian palaces, and was, in this form of art, the master of Pietro Garofalo.[4]

Critical reputation[edit]

Giordano has been criticized as being a prolific trader of all styles, and master of none. Michael Levey remarks of him "Giordano was the ideal rococo painter, speedy, prolific, dazzling in colour, assured in draughtsmanship, ever-talented and never touching the fringe of genius."[15] He has been viewed as a proto-Tiepolo, reanimating that grand manner of Cortona in a style that would brighten with Tiepolo.


See also Category:Paintings by Luca Giordano.


  1. ^ Luca Giordano at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ Painting in Naples 1606-1705, p.68
  3. ^ Painting in Naples 1606-1705, p.51.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Giordano, Luca" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 31.
  5. ^ Painting in Naples 1606-1705, p.169.
  6. ^ Palazzo Medici.
  7. ^ a b c Painting in Naples 1606-1705, p.168
  8. ^ "Giordano, Luca - The Collection - Museo Nacional del Prado". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  9. ^ "Búsqueda por autor - Catálogo digital de pinturas RABASF". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  10. ^ "The Judgement of Solomon". Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  11. ^ R. Wittkower pages 346, 348.
  12. ^ J. R. Hobbes, page 104-105.
  13. ^ Spooner, Shearjashub (1873). A Biographical History of the Fine Arts, Being Memoirs of the Lives and Works of Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects. Philadelphia: G. Gebbie. p. lm..
  14. ^ Le belle arti, Volumes 1-2, By Giovanni Battista Gennaro Grossi, Tipografia del Giornale Enciclopedico, Strada del Salvadore a Sant'Angelo a Nilo #48, Naples (1820); page 197.
  15. ^ Levey, Michael. Rococo to Revolution: Major Trends in Eighteenth-Century Painting, 1985:24.

Additional sources[edit]

  • Painting in Naples 1606-1705: From Caravaggio to Giordano. Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Royal Academy, London. London: Royal Academy. 1982.
  • De Dominici, Bernardo (1729). Francesco Ricciardo (ed.). Vita del Cavaliere D. Luca Giordano, pittore napoletano'. Francesco RIcciardo, Naples. p. 1.
  • Encyclopædia Britannica 2004 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD
  • O. Ferrari - G. Scavizzi, Luca Giordano, Napoli, varie edizioni (1966, 1992, 2000)
  • M.Horak, Importanti opera di Luca Giordano a Piacenza, in "Strenna Piacentina 2011" - Amici dell'Arte, Piacenza 2011
  • G. Scavizzi - G. De Vito, Luca Giordano giovane 1650-1664, Napoli, 2012
  • M. Horak, Luca Giordano: la grande pala in Santa Teresa, in "Panorama Musei", anno XVII, n. 1, 2012

External links[edit]