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Self portrait
18th Century
Francesco SOLIMENA
Self portrait
c. 1720
Oil on canvas
129 x 114 cm  [HxW]
Museo e Gallerie Nazionali di Capodimonte, Napoli

This is the oldest (c . 1715–20) and finest version of a series of self-portraits in which the artist is seen dressed as an abbot, with the characteristic green tunic emblematic of the “Art of Painting”. Allusion to art can also be seen in the brush he holds in his right hand and in the painting, possibly an allegory of Zephyrus and Flora, placed on an easel behind him. This portrait, which is intensely expressive and yet with elegant and brilliant tones, is part of the French tradition of artist’s portraits (Poussin, Rigaud, Largillière) and is an example of the official courtly portraits that Solimena, who had now achieved international fame, was making for the highest social and cultural classes in Europe. In this period, at the beginning of the 18th century, Solimena was increasingly following the examples of Carlo Maratta and the manner of the literary Arcadia in an attempt to tone down his youthful tendencies towards the Baroque, which he had taken from Lanfranco, Pietro da Cortona and Luca Giordano. This had come after his early apprenticeship in the Neapolitan school of naturalism under the young Giordano himself and Mattia Preti.

Maia Confalone

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