CRESPI, Giovanni Battista
(b. ca. 1575, Cerano, d. 1632, Milano)


Italian painter, sculptor, engraver, architect, and writer, known as Il Cerano. His nickname derived from his birthplace near Novara, but he was mainly active in Milan, where he was one of the leading artists of his time. During the 1590s he was in Rome, where he was befriended by Cardinal Federico Borromeo (nephew of St Charles Borromeo), who became his major patron after they returned to Milan together. Borromeo appointed him head of the painting section of the Accademia Ambrosiana, which he founded in 1620, and in 1629 put him in charge of the sculptural decoration of Milan Cathedral.

Crespi's paintings, often mystical in feeling, are complex stylistically: there is a strong Mannerist current in his colouring and in the elegant posturing of his figures, but his work also shows a solidity and a feeling for realistic details that give it a place in the vanguard of the Baroque.