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Carlo Saraceni (Venicemarker 1579-Venice, 16 June 1620) was an Italianmarker early-Baroque painter, whose reputation as a "first-class painter of the second rank" was improved with the publication of a modern monograph in 1968.

Though he was born in Venicemarker, his paintings are distinctly Roman in style; he moved to Romemarker in 1598, joining the Accademia di San Lucamarker in 1607. He never visited Francemarker, though he spoke fluent French and had French followers and a French wardrobe. His painting, however, was influenced at first by the densely forested, luxuriantly enveloping landscape settings for human figures of Adam Elsheimer, a German painter resident in Rome; "there are few landscapes by Saraceni which have not been attributed to Elsheimer," Malcolm Waddingham observed, and Anna Ottani Cavina has suggested the influences may have travelled both ways. and Elsheimer's small cabinet paintings on copper offered a format that Saraceni employed in six landscape panels illustrating The Flight of Icarus; in Moses and the Daughters of Jethro and Mars and Venus.

Saint Sebastian

Castle Museum, Prague
When Caravaggio's notorious Death of the Virgin was rejected in 1606 as an altarpiece suitable for a chapel of Santa Maria della Scala, it was Saraceni who provided the acceptable substitute, which remains in situ, the only securely dated painting of his first decade in Rome. He was influenced by Caravaggio's dramatic lighting, monumental figures, naturalistic detail, and momentary action (illustration, right), so that he is numbered among the first of the "tenebrists" or "Caravaggisti". Examples of this style can be seen in the candlelit Judith and the Head of Holofernes.

Saraceni's matured rapidly between 1606 and 1610, and the next decade gave way to his fully mature works, synthesizing Caravaggio and the Venetians. In 1616–17 he collaborated on the frescoes for the Sala Regia of the Palazzo del Quirinale. In 1618 he received payment for two paintings in the church of Santa Maria dell'Animamarker. The compositional details of his fresco of The Birth of the Virgin in the Chapel of the Annunciation of the church of Santa Maria in Aquiromarker are repeated in a panel on copper at the Louvremarker [55742]

In 1620 he returned to Venice, where he died in the same year. He was so influential on the style of an anonymous still life painter working in Rome, that the man is known as "Pensionante del Saraceni"


Gregory the Great, attributed to the studio of Saraceni, ca 1610 (Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome)
  • Mars and Venus oil on copper (1605-1610), (São Paulo Museum of Artmarker, São Paulomarker)
  • Rest on the Flight into Egypt, 1606 (Eremo dei Camaldoli, Frascatimarker)
  • The fall of Icarus, (Museums and Art Galleries Naples, Museo e Gallerie Nazionale di Capodimonte

Work by Saraceni can also be seen in the Roman church of San Lorenzo in Lucinamarker.


File:Saraceni, Carlo - The Madonna and Child with Saint Anne and an Angle, oil on copper, c. 1608-1610.jpg|The Madonna and Child with Saint Anne and an Angle, oil on copper painting by Carlo Saraceni, c. 1608-1610, Honolulu Academy of ArtsmarkerFile:Carlo Saraceni 002.jpg|Painting by Carlo SaraceniFile:Carlo Saraceni Andromède attachée.jpg|Oil on panel painting by Carlo SaraceniFile:Saraceni - Vision of St Francis.jpg|The Vision of St Francis, painting by Carlo SaraceniFile:Saraceni - martevenus02(large).jpg|Mars and Venus, with a Circle of Cupids and a Landscape, oil on copper painting by Carlo Saraceni, 1605-10, São Paulo Museum of Artmarker


  • Web Gallery of Art: Carlo Saraceni
  • Charles Dempsey, Keith Christiansen, Richard E. Spear, and Erich Scheier. 1985. The Age of Caravaggio. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
  1. "un ottimo comprimario" in Francesco Arcangeli's words, quoted by R. Ward Bissell in reviewing Anna Ottani Cavina, Carlo Saraceni (Milan) 1968, in The Art Bulletin 53.2 (June 1971:248-250) p 248.
  2. Malcolm Waddingham, "A Landscape Masterpiece by Saraceni" The Burlington Magazine 114 No. 828 (March 1972:157, 159)
  3. Anna Ottani Cavina carefully distinguished Saraceni's landscape manner from Elsheimer's in Carlo Saraceni (Milan) 1968.
  4. Icarus is found in Museo di Capodimonte.
  5. Moses and the Daughters of Jethro is found in the National Gallery, London [1].
  6. Mars and Venus is found in Museo de Arte Saõ Paulo)[2].
  7. Caravaggio's Death of Virgin now at the Louvre)
  8. Judith & Holofernes at Dayton Art Institute[3].
  9. Guilio Briganti, Il Palazzo del Quirinale (Rome 1962:37; among his collaborators there was the Venetian Marcantonio Bassetti, whose preparatory drawings are frequently confused with Sartaceni's (Stephen Polcari, "A Newly-Found Drawing by Saraceni" The Burlington Magazine 121 No. 914 (May 1979:307, 312).
  10. (National Gallery of Art) Still life, attributed to the "Pensionante del Saraceni".
  11. New Acquisition, Calendar News Honolulu Academy of Arts, Nov./Dec. 2004, 7.

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