(active 1576-1623 in Naples)


Italian painter. Although he was born and died in Naples, he traveled extensively, including Bologna, Florence, Rome, and Venice in his study of the great masters.

He studied with Marco Pino (c. 1525-1587), and he may have collaborated with him on the decoration of the church of San Giovanni Fiorentini, Naples. His first documented work is an altarpiece, Virgin and Child with Saints (1580; Matera Cathedral). His early works, such as the Assumption of the Virgin (Naples, Monteoliveto), also retain Mannerist traits, yet the slightly later Annunciation (1592; S Maria de la Vid, Burgos) and Virgin and Saints (1593; SS Severinus and Sosius, Naples) are already characterized by a simplicity and naturalism reminiscent of Scipione Pulzone or Santi di Tito. He also responded, as had Santi, to Venetian light and colour. This Tuscan style was popular in Naples, and Santafede obtained prestigious commissions, such as that for the Coronation of the Virgin (1601-02) for the ceiling of the church of S Maria la Nova, Naples.

Later Santafede was drawn to the naturalism of Caravaggio and made copies of his works; two copies of Caravaggio's Flagellation (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen) exist in private collections in Naples. He had a prolific workshop, and his work was especially popular in Campania, Apulia, the Abruzzi and Spain. His tender religious paintings, enriched by observation of daily life, showed a simple, devout people and fulfilled the Counter-Reformation demand for clarity and directness. His art marks the transition from Mannerism to the naturalism of the early Baroque.

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