Engraving by L Stocks after a painting by Salvator Rosa, Soldiers playing the dice


English engraving by L Stocks after a painting by Salvator Rosa, Dice Soldiers. The print was published in 1843. The image is 20.5 x 16.5 cm in size and is in excellent condition. There is slight discoloration in the edges. The print is in a sturdy passe partout.

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Salvator Rosa (20 June or 21 July 1615 – 15 March 1673) was an Italian baroque painter, poet and graphic artist, active in Naples, Rome and Florence. As a painter he is best known as ‘unorthodox and extravagant’ and he is also an ‘eternal rebel’ and a proto-romantic. Rosa was born in Arenella, then a suburb of Naples, on June 20 or July 21, 1615. His mother was Giulia Greca Rosa, a member of one of the Greek families of Sicily. His father, Vito Antonio de Rosa, surveyor, urged his son to become a lawyer or a priest and had him trained in the monastery of the Somaschi fathers. Nevertheless, Salvator showed a preference for the arts and worked secretly with his maternal uncle Paolo Greco to learn about painting. He was soon led by his brother-in-law Francesco Fracanzano, a student of Ribera, and then to Aniello Falcone, a contemporary of Domenico Gargiulo, or to Ribera. Some sources claim that he has taken the time to live with wandering bandits. His father died at the age of seventeen; his mother was poor and had at least five children. Salvator ended up without financial support and became the head of the household. He continued his apprenticeship with Falcone and helped him complete his paintings. In that studio it is said that Lanfranco became acquainted with his work and advised him to move to Rome, where he stayed from 1634-36. He returned to Naples and painted ghostly landscapes, overgrown with vegetation or whimsical beaches, mountains and caves. Rosa was one of the first to paint ‘romantic’ landscapes, with a special preference for scenes with picturesque, often turbulent and rugged scenes populated by shepherds, robbers, sailors, soldiers. These early landscapes were sold cheaply through private dealers. He returned to Rome in 1638-39, where he was housed by Cardinal Francesco Maria Brancaccio, Bishop of Viterbo. For the Santa Maria della Morte Chiesa in Viterbo, Rosa painted his first and one of his few altarpieces, the Incredulous Thomas. Rosa followed a wide range of arts: music, poetry, writing, etching and acting. In Rome he became friends with Pietro Testa and Claude Lorrain. During a Roman carnival game, he wrote and acted with a mask in which his character spread across Rome and spread satirical rules for diseases of the body and more particularly of the mind. In costume he fights against comic comedies acting in the Trastevere under the direction of Bernini.Although his plays were successful, this activity also earned him powerful enemies among clients and artists, including Bernini himself, in Rome. By the end of 1639 he had to move to Florence, where he stayed for eight years. He was partially invited by a cardinal Gian Carlo de ‘Medici. Once there, Rosa sponsored a combination of studios and salons of poets, playwrights and painters – the so-called Accademia dei Percossi (Academy of the Fallen). He introduced his canvases of wild landscapes to the rigid art environment of Florence; although he was influential, he gathered few real students. Another painter, Lorenzo Lippi, shared the cardinal’s hospitality and the same circle of friends with Rosa. Lippi encouraged him to continue with the poem Il Malmantile Racquistato. He was also well acquainted with Ugo and Giulio Maffei and was housed with them in Volterra, where he wrote four satires of music, poetry, painting and war. About the same time he painted his own portrait, now in the National Gallery, London. He returned to Naples in 1646 and appears to be sympathetic to the Masaniello rebellion in 1648, as suggested by a passage in one of his satires. Whether he participated in the rebellion is unknown. It is claimed that Rosa, along with other painters – Coppola, Paolo Porpora, Domenico Gargiulo, Pietro del Po, Marzio Masturzo, the two Vaccari and Cadogna – all led by Aniello Falcone, formed the Compagnia della Morte, whose mission it was to chase Spaniards on the street, not even to spare those who had sought religious asylum. He painted a portrait of Masaniello – probably of memory rather than of life. He returned to stay in Rome in 1649. Here he increasingly focused on large-scale paintings, addressing themes and stories that were unusual for seventeenth-century painters. These include Democritus amidst the Tombs, the Death of Socrates, Regulus, and Wheel of Fortune. The latter work, with the implication that too often foolish artists received rewards that did not match their talent, caused a storm of controversy.
Rosa, who sought reconciliation, published a description of its meaning (probably less watered down from the actual facts); nevertheless, he was almost arrested. Among the paintings of his last years were the admired battlefield and Saul and the witch of Endor (the latter perhaps his last work) were now in the Musée du Louvre, painted in 40 days.

While working on a series of satirical portraits, Rosa was overwhelmed by dropsy. He died half a year later. In his last moments he married a Florentine named Lucrezia, who had given him two sons, one of whom survived him, and he died in a repentant state of mind. His tomb is in Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, where a portrait of him is hanging. Salvator Rosa, after struggling from his early childhood, had successfully earned a fortune. He was an important etcher, with a very popular and influential series of small prints of soldiers, and a number of larger and very ambitious subjects.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvator_Rosa