(b. 1655, Venezia, d.1704, Venezia)


Italian painter and draughtsman. Son of Giovanni Battista Molinari (1636-after 1682), a painter, he apprenticed with Antonio Zanchi in Venice. His style had its origins in the naturalism and tenebrism of Neapolitan painting, introduced to Venice in the mid-17th century. Although his work always retained some traces of this naturalism, the typically violent subject-matter and intensity of the Neapolitan style were considerably tempered by the addition of classicising elements and of rich, glowing colours.

By the 1680s Molinari had developed his characteristic manner of depicting figures in poses of extreme torsion and vigorous movement, arranged in graceful compositions. His subject-matter included episodes from the Old and New Testaments, antiquity and Classical mythology. His classical idiom was most pronounced in his large canvases painted for churches, such as the Feeding of the Five Thousand (1690; San Pantalon, Venice) and the Death of Uzzah (c. 1695; Santa Maria degli Angeli in Murano). In the Death of Uzzah a long procession moves diagonally across the canvas through an Arcadian landscape, and the figures are arranged in patterns of overlapping triangles and planes of alternating light and dark.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.