Apollo and Phaeton, n.d.
Francesco Solimena (Italian, 1657–1747)
Oil on canvas, 34 x 51 1/2 x 1 1/4 in. Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker Collection, 1872.142.

The leading painter in Naples in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Francesco Solimena was born in Canale di Serino southeast of the city in 1657. After training with his father, also a painter, he moved to Naples at the age of 17. A protégé of Pierfrancesco Cardinal Orsini, Solimena studied the works of Luca Giordano and Mattia Preti in preparation for developing his own style. After a series of minor commissions from religious orders in Naples and surrounding towns, some of which were completed in collaboration with his father, Solimena received the commission for the fresco cycle of Saints Thecla, Archelas and Susanna in the church of San Giorgio in Salerno in 1680.

By 1691, Solimena's colorful style had changed to a more somber palette and soon reflected a new concern for classical beauty. After a visit to Rome in 1701, Solimena increasingly painted mythological and religious subjects. His fame brought him the patronage of rulers across Europe until his death in 1747. This painting served as the model for a ceiling painting in the Daun-Kinsky palace in Vienna. The larger painting was completed between 1716 and 1719 and is now in the National Gallery in Prague.

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