VASSALLO, Antonio Maria
(b. ca. 1620, Genova, d. 1664/72, Milano)

Biography

Italian painter and etcher. He was from a wealthy family and received a good education before starting his training as an artist with the Flemish painter Vincent Malo (active 1634-1649). Despite his rather brief artistic career, his oeuvre is comparatively large. Most of his pictures exhibit the same figure style, brownish colour scheme and technique, and, judging from the dates of SS Francis, Clare, Agnes and Catherine (1648; Genoa, Galleria Palazzo Bianco) and the Martyrdom of Marcello Mastrilli (1664, formerly read as 1637; ex-convent of Carignano), Vassallo remained active for a number of years.

He is best known for his skill in painting rustic pastorals and mythological subjects loaded with still-life elements and animals. His expertise in this genre was partly due to his study under Malo and was further stimulated by the presence of many northern artists in Genoa who pursued this speciality, among them the de Wael brothers, Jan Roos and Pieter Boel. The art of northern Europe was popular in Genoa, and Sinibaldo Scorza, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, Niccolò Cassana and Antonio Travi painted similar subjects. Vassallo's style in such works as Orpheus Charming the Animals (Moscow, Pushkin Museum) and the Finding of Cyrus is close to that of Castiglione. Vassallo's work is, however, distinguished from Castiglione's by the slighter proportions of the animals and figures, the clearer compositions and more restrained movement and light effects.