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2019 / 02 / 09
Salvator Rosa was a 17th century Italian painter, poet, writer, musician, etcher, actor, and so on. He was greatly inspired by spiritual themes and rural landscapes.
His father died at the age of 6, leaving the family in poverty. He was educated through a type of Catholic school for the poor.
An anti-establishment rebel, he made many enemies in the art world and local politics. He refused commissions and wanted to be self-reliant, free to choose the subjects of his paintings. His writing and plays were often highly satirical and occasionally antagonistic.
While the majority of his works are innocuous portraits and landscapes, his ability to vividly depict these dark scenes makes us wonder what type of experiences in Rosa's life inspired such works.
Witches At Their Incantation, 1646
A depiction of the dark rituals one might stumble upon in the Italian countryside.
self-portrait, unknown date
The Punishment of Prometheus, 1648-1650
A portrayal of Prometheus' punishment for stealing fire and giving it to humans. Shackled to a rock, Prometheus would have his liver eaten by a vulture every day, as it would grow back every night. In Ancient Greece, emotions like empathy and passion were attributed to the liver.
The Shade of Samuel Appears to Saul / Saul and the Witch of Endor, 1668
One of his last paintings, this painting is based on a biblical story from the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 28. In the story, King Saul of Israel asks the Witch of Endor to summon the prophet Samuel, his deceased mentor. Saul consults with him about an upcoming battle. Samuel explains Saul's fate and Saul drops to the ground in shock and fear. Saul and his sons are to die in the battle for his disobedience to God. An insane looking witch summoning an ominous, white-robed character as skeletal horrors reach out from the shadows is the stuff of nightmares and awesome RPGs.
The Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1645
Account's of Saint Anthony's encounter with supernatural temptations in the deserts of Egypt is recounted in various forms of western art and literature.
Scenes of Witchcraft: Morning, 1645-1649
Scenes of Witchcraft: Evening, 1645-1649