MUZIANO, Girolamo
(b. 1532, Brescia, d. 1592, Roma)


Italian painter and draughtsman, also known as Girolamo Bressano. A devout Catholic, he created art appropriate for the pious mood of the Counter-Reformation while at the same time reinvigorating Roman landscape painting.

He trained as a landscape painter in Padua and Venice, but from 1549 he worked in Rome. He arrived in Rome in 1549 and shaved his head to avoid amorous distractions. In 1550-51 he skillfully completed the background of Battista Franco's altarpiece of the Resurrection in the Gabrielli Chapel, S Maria sopra Minerva, Rome, with a rustic scene of woods, mill and stream in the style of Titian and of Domenico Campagnola, rendered in rhythmic, luminous strokes reminiscent of Tintoretto and Andrea Schiavone; on the entrance pilasters he executed the rather laboured frescoes of Prophets and Seers, derived from Michelangelo.

Around 1554-55 he frescoed the Prophets and Dream of Joseph (Rome, S Caterina della Rota). The angel in the latter is related to elaborate Mannerist figures by Taddeo Zuccaro and Pellegrino Tibaldi, but Muziano's clear illustration of the subject and careful characterization of the protagonists reflect the sombre classicizing style of Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta and the artistic tenets of the Counter-Reformation. The monumental forest setting and dramatic lighting, reminiscent of Titian, do not seem to have been appreciated in Rome; for a few years Muziano worked only outside the city, and through such works as his landscape frescoes, now destroyed, for Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este's villas in Rome and Tivoli, he helped to revive the classical, idealized landscape. His landscape style was disseminated by engravings and widely imitated by Northern European artists. Muziano also supplied compositional drawings for religious engravings. Subsequently he reduced the role of landscape in his religious paintings.

During the late 1570s and 1580s, Muziano was Rome's foremost religious artist. He painted many historical compositions for the churches and palaces of Rome and was instrumental in 1577 in the founding of St. Luke's Academy. He was also superintendent of the works of the Vatican under Gregory XIII.