(b. 1616, Napoli, d. ca. 1656, Napoli)

St Peter and Cornelius the Centurion

Oil on canvas, 102 x 127 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

Scholars agree on attributing this painting to Cavallino, and date it to between 1645 and 1650 on account of the studied poses, the academicizing tendencies and the visible influence of the German painter Schoenfeld, active in Naples from 1638 to 1648. On the basis of the identification of the standing young man to the right as the artist's self portrait, a dating to the end of the 1640's was also proposed. This dating is compatible with the apparent age of the "self-portrait", as Cavallino would have been just over thirty years old at that time. Such an inclusion is consistent with what we know about Cavallino, who included images of himself in eight of his paintings.

According to the sources, Cavallino trained in the workshop of Massimo Stanzione in the early 1640's. In the previous decade he had, however, already developed his own personal style. This picture is a splendid example of that manner, a subtle synthesis of the artist's various maturing experiences.

A recent restoration has more fully revealed the extraordinary chromatic range of Cavallino, which is based on a variety of cool tones; azures, blues, and grays. These are enriched by the rich and suffused brown tones of the figures in the middle ground and the almost monochromatic rendering of the figures at the right.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 21 minutes):
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina: Missa Brevis (Tu es Petrus)