SOLÍS, Francisco de
(b. ca. 1620, Madrid, d. 1684, Madrid)

Biography

Painter, engraver and collector, son of the painter Juan de Solís (c. 1595-c. 1654). He began his training in his father's workshop, although the latter had destined him for an ecclesiastical career. His early success caused him to abandon his religious studies and devote himself to painting. He opened a drawing academy in his house, though his only known pupil was José Moreno.

He was very prolific, working mainly for the religious orders both in Madrid and in places away from the Court. One of these commissions, for altarpieces for the Carmelite convent at Boadilla del Monte, includes a Visitation (1676; chapel of the Visitation, in situ). In 1679 he was involved in painting allegories, part of the decorations in Madrid for the entry of Queen Marie Louise of Orléans. His style, although individual, presents affinities with artists of the Madrid school, such as Francisco Camilo, Mateo Cerezo and Francisco Rizi. He preferred a light, cool range of colours, and he frequently used contraluce effects (objects against the light) combined with a dynamic sense of form. His figures have elongated proportions and elegant, expressive gestures. These qualities are evident in such works as Christ Attended by Angels (c. 1665; Barnard Castle, Bowes Museum) and the Visitation (c. 1665-75; Madrid, Prado). The latter work, painted for the cloister of the Augustinian convent, Alcalá de Henares, contains dramatic shafts of light falling on the figures and across the architectural setting.

Solís also wrote a book (unpublished) on the lives of painters who cultivated the three arts, of painting, sculpture and architecture, for which he engraved many of the portraits. At his death he left a well-stocked library and an important collection of drawings and prints.