STROZZI, Bernardo
(b. 1581, Genova, d. 1644, Venezia)


Italian painter, the most important exponent of the rich vein of Genoese art in the seventeenth century. He entered the Capuchin Order in about 1597, hence his nicknames, Il Prete Genovese (the Genoese priest) and Il Cappuccino (the Capuchin). In about 1610 he was allowed to leave his community to look after his sick and widowed mother, and after she died in 1630 he is said to have been pressurized to return, this accounting for his move in 1631 to Venice where he spent the rest of his life).

Strozzi was successful and prolific in both Genoa and Venice, painting portraits and allegorical and genre scenes (often of musicians) as well as religious works. The sensuous richness of his style was influenced by Rubens (who worked in Genoa), but his work is highly distinctive, with an air of refinement and tenderness that recalls Van Dyck (who also worked in Genoa). The Ligurian school was molded through its contacts first with Rubens, which led to him using rich, thick colours applied with wide brushstrokes, and later with Van Dyck, whose refined elegance added its own influence. Strozzi's interpretation of these trends was highly original and combined with his thorough knowledge of other currents in art, from the Lombard school to the diffusion of Caravaggio's style. He produced a splendid series of frescos, altarpieces, and paintings for private collectors in Genoa.

His paintings were an immediate success in Venice, partly because Palma the Younger had recently died and there was a lack of native painters. From then on, with two other 'foreigners', Fetti and Lys, he kept alive the painterly tradition of the 16th century. Strozzi could be considered one of the most important painters in seventeenth-century Venice. Apart from religious paintings, he was also much admired for the fleshy but lively portraits he painted.