GUARINO, Francesco
(b. 1611, Sant'Agata Irpina, nr Solofra, d. 1654, Gravina di Puglia)

Biography

Italian painter. He was first taught by his father, Giovanni Tommaso Guarino (d. 1637), and then trained in the studio of Massimo Stanzione, during that painter's brief Caravaggesque phase, and responded to the naturalism of Giovanni Battista Caracciolo, Filippo Vitale and the Roman Caravaggisti of the 1620s.

Between c. 1630 and 1635 he painted his first important works, a series of canvases for the ceiling of the collegiate church of San Michele Arcangelo, Solofra. The earliest are the Agony in the Garden (in collaboration with his father), the Liberation of St Peter, a highly individual response to Caravaggio, Joseph's Dream and Joseph Warned by the Angel. In the same church the more richly composed Christ among the Doctors and Circumcision, distinguished by the weightier realism of the figures, reveal the influence of Jusepe de Ribera and Francesco Fracanzano. A little later, in the damaged Annunciation to the Shepherds, also in San Michele, the grave naturalism of the humble figures suggests the impact of Velázquez, who had been working in Italy between 1629 and 1631. Two paintings of the Martyrdom of St Agatha (Sant'Agata Irpina, parish church) showing her tortured, one with burning coals and the other by having her breasts cut off, are from the same period; the figure types and the composition of the second seem to be directly inspired by Velázquez's Triumph of Bacchus (Museo del Prado, Madrid).

In his later paintings of St Agatha (Moscow, Pushkin Museum; c. 1637, and Naples, Capodimonte) Guarino explored the type of female half-length study introduced by Simon Vouet and Massimo Stanzione, focusing on the refined sensuality of the subject, whom he portrayed with one shoulder bare, languidly holding a blood-stained cloth to her mutilated breasts.

Guarino's life was cut short at the young age of forty.



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