CRESCENZI, Giovanni Battista
(b. 1577, Roma, d. 1635, Madrid)


Italian painter and architect, part of a family of artists and patrons. The family played a prominent part in the life of Rome from the 10th century, if not earlier, and by the 17th century were regarded as one of the oldest and most illustrious of the city's patrician families. Under the leadership of Virgilio Crescenzi (d. 1592) and his sons Giacomo Crescenzi (c. 1570-1638), Pietro Paolo Crescenzi, Giovanni Battista Crescenzi and Francesco Crescenzi, the family, which supported Filippo Neri, the founder of the Oratorians, was distinguished both for its dedication to the work of reform within the Church and for its interests in the arts. Cristoforo Roncalli ran an academy at the Palazzo Crescenzi, at which the Crescenzi brothers, among others, studied.

Like his brothers, Giovanni Battista studied painting with Cristoforo Roncalli, and he painted frescoes and canvases (untraced) for the Palazzo Crescenzi. He was Superintendent of Works at the Pauline Chapel (1610-13) in Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, and also supervised the artistic projects commissioned by Pope Paul V. He founded a school of painting from life in his palazzo.

By 1617 had moved to Madrid, and from 1620 on, he was active in El Escorial. Philip III of Spain awarded him the title of Marchese de la Torre, Knight of Santiago.

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