(b. ca. 1600, Montevarchi, d. 1659, Firenze)


Italian painter. He had moved to Florence by 1621, and in 1623 is documented as living in the house of Jacopo Ligozzi. No works from this early period survive, and his first documented works were a fresco and other paintings (untraced) executed in 1622 for the church of S Leonardo at Grosseto. These were commissioned by Francesco dell'Antella (1567-1624), commander of the Order of Malta, who was a patron of Caravaggio during the latter's stay in Malta. Martinelli is not documented in Florence over the next ten years, and it is now widely accepted that he visited Rome in the latter part of the 1620s.

By the mid-1630s he was established in Florence, where he worked mainly for private collectors, and in 1636 he enrolled in the Accademia del Disegno, and became a member in 1637. The earliest dated work to survive is the Miracle of the Mule (1632; Pescia, S Francesco), based on Lodovico Cigoli's painting of the same subject (1597; Cortona, S Francesco), and composed with a characteristically Florentine clarity and lucidity. Yet the painting's naturalism and effects of light are perhaps indebted to Roman art. Other works of this period, such as Death Appearing to the Banqueters (New Orleans, LA, Delgado Museum), and the companion pieces the Violin Player (Atlanta, GA, High Museum of Art) and the Spinet Player (Clermont-Ferrand, Musée Bargoin), bear a strong resemblance to the art of such Florentine painters as Filippo Tarchiani (1576-1645) and Anastagio Fontebuoni (1580-1626), both of whom had lived for a long while in Rome. Martinelli was also indebted to such French and Neapolitan followers of Caravaggio as Valentin de Boulogne, Simon Vouet and Massimo Stanzione. Vouet's influence is apparent in the Judgement of Solomon (private collectioon) and the Woman of Samaria (Terranuova Bracciolini, Arezzo, Prepositura), both of which may be dated to c. 1638. In these paintings the luminous quality of the whites and brightness hark back to a Roman Caravaggesque tradition, and particularly to the art of Orazio Gentileschi. In the 1630s Martinelli also developed a fresco style that is close to that of Giovanni da San Giovanni and similarly influenced by the naturalism and narrative simplicity of Bernardino Poccetti. His frescoes of the 1630s include four Allegories, completed by 1638, at the Certosa del Galluzzo, near Florence.