(bapt. Genoa, 23 Mar. 1609; d Mantua, 5 May 1664). Italian painter, printmaker, and draughtsman, active in his native Genoa and also in Rome, Naples, and Mantua (where he ended his career working at the Gonzaga court). He was versatile and prolific, and was unusual among Italian artists of his period in being particularly responsive to foreign influence: Rudolf Wittkower writes that he ‘ran through almost the whole gamut of stylistic possibilities in the course of his astonishing career’.
In painting, his fluid manner owed something to Rubens, van Dyck, and Bernardo Strozzi, all of whom worked in Genoa, whilst his etchings are indebted to Rembrandt. His paintings are mainly on religious subjects, but they are often most notable for their superb treatment of animals and still-life details. Some of his other works have a sense of fantasy recalling Salvator Rosa, notably the etching The Genius of Castiglione (1648). In addition to being one of the finest Italian etchers and draughtsmen of his period, he is credited with inventing the monotype. He had a high reputation in his day and his work continued to be influential in the 18th century, notably on Fragonard and Giambattista Tiepolo. His brother Salvatore (1620–76) was a minor artist and a diplomat for the Gonzaga court, and his son Giovanni Francesco (1641–1710) was a painter—a skilful imitator of his father's work.
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)