(b. 1605, Reggio Emilia, d. 1654, Padova)


Luca Ferrari (called Luca da Reggio), Italian painter. The sources maintain that he was a pupil of Guido Reni, but to judge from the style of his earliest surviving works - the Miracle of Giovanni Francesco Vincenzo and the Miracle of Laura di Correggio (both c. 1626-27; Reggio Emilia, Madonna della Ghiara) - which show no hint of Reni's influence, he was more likely to have trained in his home town alongside the artists Leonello Spada, Alessandro Tiarini and Carlo Bononi, who in the 1610s and 1620s were decorating the basilica of the Madonna della Ghiara. He may well be the Luca who is mentioned in a Modenese document of 1627 as having assisted Tiarini. In 1635 he was documented in Padua, where he was a member of the 'Fraglia dei pittori' for two years and where he worked on the large canvas depicting St Dominic Imploring the Virgin to End the Plague (1635; Padua, Cassa di Risparmio) and other works on canvas (e.g. altarpieces painted in 1642 in S Francesco and S Tommaso) and in fresco (e.g. the funerary chapel (1640) of the de Lazara family at Conselve).

His knowledge of 16th-century Venetian painting was fundamental in helping him to lighten the weighty vigour of Emilian naturalism and to adopt paler, more luminous colours. The decoration of the basilica of the Madonna della Ghiara was finished in this new style (1644-48), and he executed important paintings for the churches of Reggio Emilia (e.g. the Wedding at Cana and the Baptism, both in S Pietro). In 1650 he was again documented in the vicinity of Padua, where he was working on the frescoes for the Villa Selvatico (now Emo Capodilista) at Battaglia Terme and for the Villa Barbarigo at Noventa Vincentina. These decorations are airy and light-hearted in an almost 18th-century manner. He also specialized in the execution of large-scale canvases depicting historical subjects, mythological subjects, such as the two Scenes from the Iliad that were once in the d'Este Villa Pisani (now Venice, Palazzo Pisani-Moretta) and in small-scale cabinet paintings and altarpieces, in particular the Deposition (1652; Padua, Basilica of S Antonio) and the Miracle of St Anthony (1653; Este, Church of the Battuti). His last documented commission was the decoration of the ceiling of S Tommaso Cantauriense in Padua (in situ), which displays a more complex perspective and the clashing of different light sources.

His spectacular style, which in later works was sometimes marred by forced effects, won him much fame, numerous imitators and a lasting influence on successive generations of Venetian painters.