NUVOLONE, Panfilo
(b. 1581, Cremona, d. 1651, Milano)

Biography

Member of an Italian family of painters. Panfilo Nuvolone painted many frescoes and altarpieces, in a style still linked to late Mannerism, and a number of more original still-lifes. His son Carlo Francesco Nuvolone, who responded to early 17th-century Milanese art, was a more powerful artist. He became the leading painter in Lombardy in the mid-17th century, producing frescoes, altarpieces, devotional works and portraits. Carlo's younger brother Giuseppe Nuvolone assisted him. Giuseppe's art is of lower quality, yet richer in colour, and his many religious works spread the Baroque style throughout Lombardy.

After studying with Giovanni Battista Trotti, Panfilo Nuvolone moved to Milan, where he is recorded in 1610. The influence of Trotti and of late Cremonese Mannerism is evident in his first known work, SS Nicholas and Costanza Adoring a Miraculous Image of the Virgin (1607; Canonica d'Adda, S Giovanni Evangelista). In his paintings of scenes from the Life of Samson (1610-14; Milan, S Angelo, Cappella Sansoni) Nuvolone moved away from Trotti, exaggerating the size of the figures and defining form with an academic clarity reminiscent of the contemporary art of Camillo Procaccini. There followed, shortly after the work in S Angelo, frescoes of the Coronation of the Virgin and other scenes in the presbytery of S Maria della Passione in Milan, and, in 1614, a lunette of the Angel Announcing to Mary her Approaching Death for S Domenico, Cremona (Cremona, Museo Civico Ala Ponzone).

In 1620 he painted the Coronation of the Virgin for the Swiss parish church in Milan (in situ). Still tied stylistically to the earlier work in S Maria della Passione, this demonstrates the difficulty Nuvolone experienced in breaking with the late Mannerism of Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo, Giuseppe Meda and Ambrogio Figino and in adapting to new trends in 17th-century Milanese painting. His Virgin and Child with Two Saints (1624; Milan, S Eustorgio), featuring stiff figures and inflated Mannerist drapery with its metallic folds, indicates continued contact with Procaccini. In the same year he was employed in the decoration of the Collegiata di Appiano Gentile, where he painted two scenes from the Life of St Stephen and a Virgin and Child with SS Anthony and Victor.

He continued to produce a vast number of repetitive religious works, yet these are less interesting than his still-life paintings, generally of fruit stands with peaches and grapes presented symmetrically against dark backgrounds. Only two signed examples are known. Many similar works, comparable with the contemporary paintings of Fede Galizia, suggest the existence of a workshop specializing in this genre, though few of the paintings are attributable to Panfilo himself.



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