- Also known as
primary name: Guerra, Giovanni
- individual; painter/draughtsman; architect; printmaker; Roman; Italian; Male
- Life dates
- Painter, draughtsman, architect and engraver. Giovanni Guerra. According to Noack in Thieme-Becker, b. Modena c. 1540, d. Rome 29 Aug. 1618. Both Forciroli, d. 1620 (MS life of Guerra, cf. 'Modena Exh. Cat.', p. 36, n. 58), and Tiraboschi (pp. 224f.) give 1544 as the date of G.'s birth and say that he came to Rome at 18. He is presumably the 'Giovanni Modanese' named by Vasari in 1573 as one of the 12 artists who had previously worked in the Sala Regia (cf. P. Barocchi, 'Vasari Pittore', Milan, 1964, p. 71). His earliest recorded work in Rome was of a decorative nature: oval canvas with arms of Gregory XIII etc. above gateway of Castel S. Angelo, valued 4 Feb. 1575 (Bertolotti, 'Modenesi', p. 31) and Grotesque decoration on some pilasters in Loggia of Gregory XIII attributed to him by Celio (p. 112). Plan and elevation of a baldachin surmounted by a figure of 'Justice', with arms of Gregory XIII, formed part of an album of drawings sold Sotheby's, 6 March 1957, lot 16.
Member Accademia di S. Luca, 18 July 1575 (Noack). Candidate for Virtuosi al Pantheon 11 Dec. 1580, secretary until 1595 and from 1603 to 1616 ('Modena Exh. Cat.' p. 46). A document of 1584 (ibid.) describes his wife as the daughter of Lorenzo Sabbatini.
G. and Nebbia assisted Muziano in Cappella Gregoriana in St Peter's in the period 1580-5 (Bertolotti, 'Lombardi', i, p. 121). For Sixtus V (1585-90), G. also worked with Nebbia (q.v.) in Villa Montalto, Lateran Palace and Basilica (Benediction Loggia), Vatican Library, Scala Santa and Palazzo di Montecavallo (Quirinal). Baglione, who assisted them in all Sixtus V's buildings (p. 401) states (p. 159) that it was G. who "inventava li soggetti delle storie" and allotted the work, while Nebbia "ne faceva i disegni".
1589-90, S. Girolamo degli Schiavoni, G. supervised decoration: payments 30 June, 18 Aug. 1590 (Koksa, 'S. Girolamo degli Schiavoni', Rome, 1971, pp. 28f.). 1591, G. supervised painted decoration of Sixtus's catafalque, including allegorical female figures in feigned bronze by Zucchi, Salimbeni and Arpino (see engravings in B. Catani, 'La Pompa Funerale ... di Papa Sisto il Quinto', Rome, 1591).
1591 and 1593, associated with G.B. Ricci in Palazzo di Montecavallo, i.e. Quirinal (Bertolotti, 'Modenesi', pp. 48, 55). 1593, disagreement with Nebbia over money (op. cit., pp. 54f.) appears to have ended their association. According to Bertolotti (ibid.), no payments for painting found 1593-8. Baglione states "diedesi a fare il Mercatante", and that he quickly lost all that he had earned under Sixtus V. According to L. Vedriani ('Raccolta de' Pittori, Scultori et Architetti Modonesi piu celebri', Modena, 1662, p. 90), G. was responsible for the design of two churches in Modena: S.M. della Trinità and S.M. del Paradiso, the foundation stone of the latter being dated 1596. Nov. 1598 and Sept. 1600, payments for temporary decorations, etc., in Ferrara (Bertolotti, 'Modenesi', pp. 55f.).
1606-7, painted baldachin over high altar of St Peter's and also ciborium (Thieme-Becker). 7 May 1611, payment for "diversi disegni ... delle volte et delle muraglie, che si haveranno a depingere nella nova sagrestia che S. S.tà va di fare in Santa Maria Maggiore" (Bertolotti, 'Modenesi', p. 84). S.M. Rotonda (Pantheon) tribune over high altar painted with "una gloria di tutti li Santi" (Baglione).
In 'Vita' of M. Greuter Baglione records that Guerra made numerous drawings "per darli all'intaglio" of subjects from Old and New Testaments, and of Greek and Roman history. Greuter's earliest engraving in Rome said to be 1604 (Thieme-Becker). Engravings based on drawings by Guerra are: c. 1586, 'Varie acconciature di teste di donne'; 1589, 'Cavalcade of the Pope from Vatican to Lateran'.
A preparatory drawing in Paris, E.B.-A., for the print by Natale Bonifazio commemorating the transference of the Vatican Obelisk in 1586 (Goguel, figs. 3, 4) is traditionally attributed to G., whose name is inscribed as designer on this print and on three others by the same engraver connected with the same operation ('Modena Exh. Cat.', nos. 77, 79, 80). The resemblance between these prints and plates by the same engraver in Domenico Fontana's book 'Della trasportazione dell'Obelisco Vaticano ...' (1590) confirms the generally held view that G. was likewise responsible for their design.
Designed scenes of martyrdom engraved by Tempesta for A. Gallonio's 'Trattato degli instrumenti di martirio', 1591 (see Goguel, n. 16; 'Modena Exh. Cat.', pls. lviii-lx).
Other series of drawings which may also have been made for engravings include: History of the legendary kings of Rome, Louvre 20773-20868 (some repr. 'Modena Exh. Cat.', pls. xvi f.). Copenhagen, a series of 32 drawings seemingly inspired by the reliefs on Trajan's column. (A signed project for column to Charles V, with continuous spiral relief, in album 01 drawings sold Sotheby's 6 March 1957, lot l6.) Album of drawings of Acts of the Apostles, Paris, E.B.-A., and others perhaps of the same series, Louvre, Poitiers (see Goguel, n. 18; 'Modena Exh. Cat.', pls. xiiia-b). A great number of drawings dated 1606 illustrating 'Book of Judith', Columbia University, New York (Pouncey, 'Burlington', pp. 294, 297, where also are repr. two figures of 'Virtues': 'Virginity' and 'Faith', Ashmolean Museum, Oxford). Drawings 'Alexandri Farnesii ... Heroica Acta', National Library, Madrid, in three albums 15/37, 38. 39, dated 1608 according to Vitzthum (MD, iv (1966), p. 48). Leningrad, Hermitage, a series including scenes from life of Christ, photographs of nos. 20581 to 20592 are known to us. A series of drawings in the Albertina of fountains at Pratolino, Bagnaia and Bomarzo are thought to have been made as a guide for work planned at the Villa Aldobrandini at Frascati ('Modena Exh. Cat.', pls. xxvii-xl; see also Heikamp). Drawings dated 1583 for a wall decoration, apparently inspired by F. Salviati's Palazzo Sacchetti 'salone': Paris, E.B.-A., 2557-8 (Goguel, figs. 16, 17).
- Nagler, III, 2981 and 2997 (this latter monogram on etchings printed in Vienna in 1560, not accepted by subsequent authorities); Gere and Pouncey, p. 110
Gere & Pouncey 1983
G. Tiraboschi, Notizie de' Pittori, Scultori, Incisori, e Architetti, Modena, 1786; F. Noack in Thieme-Becker (1922), with previous bibliography; P. Pouncey, review of A. Bertini, I disegni della biblioteca reale di Torino (Burlington, ci (1959), pp. 294, 297); W. Vitzthum, 'Ammanatis Boboli-Brunnen in einer Kopie Giovanni Guerras', Albertina Studien, i (1963), pp. 75ff.; P.J.J. van Thiel, 'Litterarum Inventores', Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, 15 (1964), pp. 105ff.; J. Hess, 'Entwürfe von Giovanni Guerra für Villa Lante in Bagnaia (1598)', Römisches Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte, 12 (1969), pp. 195ff.; D. Heikamp, 'Pratolino nei suoi giorni splendidi', Antichità Viva, viii (1969), 2, pp. 14ff.; C. Monbeig Goguel, 'Giovanni Guerra da Modena, disegnatore e illustratore della fine del Rinascimento', Arte illustrata, 58 (1974), pp. 1641F.; E.C. Gattolin, E.P. Armani, V. Birke and C. Monbeig Goguel, Libri di immagini, disegni, incisioni di Giovanni Guerra, Exh. Cat., Modena, Palazzo dei Musei, Sala Poletti, 18 March-30 April 1978 (abbr. as Modena Exh. Cat.).