FALCONE, Aniello
(b. 1607, Napoli, d. 1656, Napoli)

The Anchorite

c. 1650
Oil on canvas, 102 x 53 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

Once attributed to Mattia Preti, this canvas was subsequently given to Paolo Finoglia and then to Aniello Falcone. Judged to be one of the most effective of Falcone's works, this painting relates to the portraiture of Velázquez, with which it shares an emotive intensity connected to the youthful works of the Spanish master.

The most interesting characteristic of The Anchorite is the tightly cropped composition of the painting, calculated to enhance the solemnity of the monk's figure. This figure, strongly located at the centre of the canvas, is foreshortened and seen as if from below. The monumentality of the whole is sustained by a strong classical-academic component, revealing Falcone's ability as a draftsman. The characterization of the face is strong in a different way: an intense study from life and perhaps even a portrait, it has a certain crude realism in its details. Falcone lays down his paint with a dense impasto and incredible rapidity of execution: nonetheless the painting is rendered noble and authoritative by the deep classicism of the painter, who seems in this case to be referring to the style that Mattia Preti brought with him to Naples after his Roman experience.