Passeri, Giovanni Battista

Passeri, Giovanni Battista a distinguished painter and ecclesiastic, is author of one of the best collections of biographies of Italian artists. He was born at Rome about 1610. He received a good education, and, according to his own account, did not take up painting until comparatively late. He was first engaged in the capacity of a painter in 1635 by Canini, in the Villa Aldobranditri, at Frascati, where he contracted an intimate friendship with Domenichino, then returned from Naples. When Domenichino died in Naples, in 1641, Passeri was president of the Academy of St. Luke, and he read a funeral oration on him, and painted a portrait of him, now in the gallery Degli Uffizi, at Florence. At the close of his life Passeri entered into holy orders, and obtained in 1675 a benefice in the college of Santa Maria, in Via Lata. He died in 1679. Passeri is one of the best of the Italian historians of art; his theoretical knowledge was good, and his statements are believed to be very correct. The circumstance of his book lying for nearly a century unnoticed, or rather unpublished, was owing to its unfinished state and the severity of many of his remarks, especially on Bernini. It was first published in Rome by an anonymous editor (supposed to be Bottari, editor of the Lettere Pittoriche) in 1772, with some omissions, under the title, Vite de Pittori, Scultori, ed Architetti che anno lavorato in Roma, morti dal 1641 Jino al 1673, di Giambattista Passeri, Pittore e Poeta (492 pp. 4to), thus constituting a continuation to the work of Baglione. It contains thirty-six lives, from Domenichino to Salvator Rosa inclusive. There is only one public picture by Passeri in Rome, a Crucifixion, between two saints, in the church of San Giovanni della Malva. See English Cyclop. s.v.; Spooner, Biog. Hist. of the Fine Arts, 2:661.

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