FERRARI, Giovanni Andrea de
(b. ca. 1598, Genova, d. 1669, Genova)

Biography

Italian painter. He was a prolific easel painter who painted many altarpieces and, with Gioacchino Assereto and Orazio de' Ferrari (1606-1657), created a lyrical, richly coloured manner that influenced the later development of the Genoese Baroque. He studied with Bernardo Castello (1557-1629), then with Bernardo Strozzi; he adopted Strozzi's manner so completely that his pictures were confused with those of his master. Some of these compositions survive, but they can usually be distinguished from Strozzi's by a thinner application of paint, expressive van Dyckian heads, tapered hands and tightly rolled drapery sleeves.

Ferrari's work consists primarily of religious subjects. All of his earliest known dated pictures, including the Birth of the Virgin (1616; Genoa, Nostra Signora del Rimedio) and his Life of the Virgin series (1619; Genoa, Figlie di S Giuseppe, Conservatory) reflect his close working relationship with Strozzi, particularly in the facial types.

Throughout the 1620s Giovanni Andrea painted several large canvases with scenes from the lives of the saints and drew on a number of influences. For example, the tightly knit figure groups, sense of recession and focus on architecture seen in the St Thomas Preaching to the King of India (1624; Genoa, San Fede) and the Charity of St Antonino (1628; Montoggio, San Giovanni Decollato) suggest the work of Ansaldo, whereas his Guardian Angel (1632; Santa Margherita Ligure, S Margherita d'Antiochia) point to Giovanni Andrea's response to Castello.

In 1634 Giovanni Andrea was made a member of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome, but there is no record of his being in Rome. His work during this decade includes the lunette painting the Miracle of St Bridget (commissioned 1634; Genoa, Museo Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti), the Madonna of the Rosary with SS Dominic and Catherine (1635; Varazze, San Domenico) and the Carmine Madonna with St Simon Stock (1635; Alassio, church of the Carità).

After the 1630s there are few dated pictures to establish a chronology for the artist. Moreover, while his handling changes his figure types remain for the most part consistent. In his later work, Giovanni Andrea withdrew from the mannerism of Strozzi and Ansaldo and achieved success with a more refined approach to religious narrative and psychology in works such as Esau Selling his Birthright (Genoa, Museo Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti).

As he never left Genoa and had no family, Giovanni Andrea proved a particularly attentive teacher in his studio, which included Valerio Castello, Giovanni Battista Merano and possibly even Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione.



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