SCARSELLINO
(b. ca. 1550, Ferrara, d. 1620, Ferrara)

Biography

Scarsellino (real name Ippolito Scarzella), Italian painter. After an early apprenticeship with his father, Sigismondo Scarsella (1530-1614), an architect and painter, he travelled to Bologna where he stayed c. 1565-70. He then went to Venice, where from c. 1570 he trained in Paolo Veronese's workshop for four years.

His earliest works shows the influence of Veronese, for example the Virgin and Child with the Infant Baptist (ex-Venice, Guggenheim), which also reveals a marked interest in Parmigianino, and a number of small altarpieces, such as the Holy Family (Schleissheim, Neues Schloss) and Virgin and Child (Parma, Galleria Nazionale). In these works the inspiration from Veronese is united with a richness of colour reminiscent of Titian, although there are also echoes of earlier Ferrarese painters such as Sebastiano Filippi and Giuseppe Mazzuoli. Other early works include Scarsellino's mythological paintings of Diana and Endymion, Venus Bathing and Venus and Adonis (before 1592; all Rome, Galleria Borghese), which prepared the way for Annibale Carracci's deeper understanding of the 16th-century Venetian tradition.

Scarsellino drew on the same sources in his ceiling paintings, in oil on canvas, for the Palazzo dei Diamantini in Ferrara (1592-3; Modena, Galleria & Museo Estense), where he worked with Gaspare Venturini (1570-1617) and Lodovico Carracci. In the Apollo from these decorative works and in a contemporary Pieta (Rome, Galleria Barberini) there is a link with the pathos of Lodovico Carracci, whose art, of all the Carracci, is closest in feeling to that of Scarsellino. Their fundamental similarity of approach is further revealed in such works as the Way to Emmaus (Rome, Galleria Borghese), in which the landscape in the background is clearly inspired by Carracci, the Flight into Egypt and the Holy Family (both destroyed). In all these paintings the starkly simple figures reflect the Counter-Reformation dictates of Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti and echo the contemporary work of Bartolomeo Cesi. In other works of the same period, however, Scarsellino turned towards the painting of Federico Barocci, who directly inspired Christ and the Virgin Appearing to St Francis (Milan, Brera), in which the spirited use of warm colours reflects a continuing influence from Venetian art.