Preti, Mattia

Preti, Mattia called il Calabrese, a painter of the Neapolitan school, was born in 1613 at Taverna, in Calabria. His brother Gregorio, about whom very little is known, who was honored in his life-time with the title of prince of the Academy of St. Luke, was Mattia's first master; subsequently he studied with Lanfranc and Guerino. Preti took from Caravaggio those dark and violent hues, which impair the charm of his compositions. He delighted in retracing martyrdoms, murders, and other scenes of desolation. He painted with prodigious rapidity: a contemporary says that to see him handle the brush one would have thought that he was drumming. He painted the frescos of the church of Carmine in Modena, which are in a very good state of preservation. In 1657 he returned to Rome, but was compelled to flee, having killed one of his rivals. At Naples, again, whither he repaired, he killed a soldier who had stopped him on some forbidden ground, and was ordered for his punishment to paint the patron saints of Naples on the doors of the city. From Naples he went to Malta, where his works were rewarded with the title of knight and the commandery of Syracuse. In his last years he worked only, but with unremitting diligence, for the poor. He died at Malta in 1699. His works are met with in great number in Italy. The Louvre has his Martyrdom of St. Andrew, St. Paul, and St. Anthony the Hermit; the Museum of Dresden the Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, the Incredulity of St. Thomas, and the Deliverance of St. Peter; the Pinakothek of Munich a Repenting Magdalen; the Museum of Vienna an Incredulity of St. Thomas, etc. See Spooner. Biog. Hist. of the Fine Arts, s.v. (J. H. W.)

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