- Also known as
Giovanni Francesco Romanelli
primary name: Romanelli, Giovanni Francesco
- individual; painter/draughtsman; Roman; Italian; Male
- Life dates
- Painter and tapestry designer: Viterbo, Rome, Paris. b, Viterbo c. 1610, d. Viterbo 1662. Pupil of Domenichino and Pietro da Cortona.
After first training under Domenichino (q.v.), Romanelli entered the studio of Pietro da Cortona (q.v.), who was to prove the greater influence on his style. He was introduced to Barberini patronage in the early 1630s while working as Cortona's assistant on the decoration of the Palazzo Barberini (from 1631 onwards). He helped in the painting of Cortona's great ceiling fresco of 'Divine Providence' as well as the decoration of the private chapel, where the 'Adoration of the Shepherds' is generally attributed to him in its entirety (1632-9). Pope Urban VIII Barberini (1623-44) favoured the painter and commissioned from him, among other works, the overdoor of 'St Peter Healing the Sick' for St Peter's, now in the Museo Storico Artistico of the Basilica (1636-7); the frescoes with 'Scenes from the Life of Matilda of Tuscany' for the Sala della Contessa Matilda in the Vatican (1637-42); and the ceiling fresco 'Pasce oves meas' for the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche, also in the Vatican Palace (1638). The 'Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple', painted in 1638-42 for the Cappella Colonna in St Peter's and now in S.Maria degli Angeli, was the artist's first major public altarpiece.
As superintendent of the Barberini tapestry manufactory, Romanelli made the cartoons (now Villa Lante, Viterbo) for the series of seven tapestries of 'Putti with Swags', which are in imitation of Raphael's famous set of tapestries made for Leo X, as well as the cartoons for a second series of tapestries representing the 'Life of Christ', in the Palazzo Barberini, Rome (both series 1637-43) (see also Ff,3.195).
In the years following the death of his principal early patron Urban VIII, Romanelli twice visited Paris, in 1646-7 and 1655-7. While there, he was employed on a number of important commissions, including the decoration of the upper gallery of the Hôtel Mazarin, with mythological and allegorical figures (1646-7) and scenes taken from the legend of Troy; and four rooms constituting the summer apartment of the Queen Regent Anne of Austria in the Palais du Louvre in 1655-7. These works introduced the Cortonesque style of decorative painting to France.
The monumental 'St Lawrence', painted in 1648 for the high altar of Viterbo Cathedral, dates from Romanelli's maturity (commissioned in 1641). Of particular note among the artist's later works in Rome are the ceiling painting of 'Mars, Venus and Mercury' and six lunettes featuring episodes from Roman history in the Palazzo Lante (1653), as well as the 'Charity of St Thomas of Villanueva' for the convent of S. Agostino (1658).
- Turner 1999 (whence biography below)