Gentileschi, Orazio (DNB00)

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GENTILESCHI, ORAZIO (1563–1647), painter, born at Pisa in 1563, was half-brother of the painter Aurelio Lomi, according to some accounts by a second marriage of their mother; but the account generally accepted is that he was the son of Giovanni Battista Lomi, Aurelio's father, and was placed at an early age under the charge of his maternal uncle, Gentileschi, at Rome, afterwards bearing his name. Gentileschi studied painting at Rome, and founded his style on the finest masterpieces there. He was employed by Pope Clement VIII on paintings in the library and other parts of the Vatican; he also painted for Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini the tribune of St. Niccola in Carcere; for Cardinal Pinello a ‘Circumcision’ in Santa Maria Maggiore; for Cardinal Bentivoglio the portico of his palace; for Cardinal Scipione Borghese a summerhouse; also a large picture of ‘The Conversion of St. Paul’ in S. Paolo fuori le Mura, and other paintings in S. Giovanni Laterano, Santa Maria della Pace, and elsewhere. In the Palazzo Quirinale in 1616 and the Palazzo Rospigliosi he painted pictures in conjunction with his intimate friend, Agostino Tassi, the landscape-painter. In the Palazzo Borghese there is one of his finest paintings, ‘Santa Cecilia and S. Valeriano.’ In 1621, on the accession of Pope Gregory XV, he was induced by the Genoese envoy, Giovanni Antonio Sauli, to go to Genoa, where he painted fine works in the palaces of the nobility, especially that of Marc Antonio Doria at S. Piero d'Arena. Possibly he may have encountered Vandyck here. He was next invited to the court of Carlo Emmanuele I of Savoy at Turin, where he painted some excellent works. An ‘Annunciation’ by him was among the spoils removed by Napoleon to Paris, but was returned to the Turin Gallery (engraved in D'Azeglio's ‘Galleria di Torino’ and in the ‘Musée Napoléon’). From Turin he proceeded to Paris, at the invitation of the queen-mother, where he found plenty of employment for about two years, and gained a new patron in George Villiers, duke of Buckingham. In 1626 he came to England, it is said at the invitation of Vandyck, though he may have come at the request of Buckingham, for whom he painted a ‘Magdalen in a Grotto,’ a ‘Holy Family,’ and a ceiling at York House in the Strand. Vandyck appears to have esteemed Gentileschi highly, and drew his portrait, which he had engraved by Vorsterman for his ‘Centum Icones’ (the original drawing is in the print room at the British Museum). Charles I treated Gentileschi with great honour, furnished a house for him at great cost, and gave him an annuity of 100l. Though over sixty years of age, he painted assiduously for his royal patron, especially at Greenwich Palace. Most of the pictures he painted for the king were dispersed after Charles's execution. Some are at Marlborough House, one of ‘Lot and his daughters’ was engraved by L. Vorsterman, another of ‘The Repose in Egypt’ is in the Louvre, and others are to be found at Madrid and Vienna. At Hampton Court there are two pictures by him, formerly in James II's collection, viz. ‘A Sibyl’ and ‘Joseph and Potiphar's wife.’ Gentileschi's patronage by the king and Buckingham excited the jealousy of Sir Balthasar Gerbier [q. v.], who seems to have claimed a monopoly of trading on their prodigal generosity to foreign artists. Like Gerbier, Gentileschi was employed on missions of secret diplomacy. Gerbier attacked Gentileschi in many ways, but does not appear to have shaken his position at court, as Gentileschi continued to reside in England up to his death in 1647, in his eighty-fourth year. He was buried in the chapel at Somerset House. He sometimes tried portrait-painting in England, but without much success. Gentileschi brought with him to England a large family, including three sons, Francesca, Giulio, and Marco, and a daughter Artemisia [q. v.] Francesco and Giulio were sent on picture-dealing errands to Italy, and after their father's death Francesco became a painter at Genoa, where he died about 1660; Marco was one of the suite of the Duchess of Buckingham at York House.

[Baldinucci's Notizie dei Professori del Disegno, iii. 710; Rosini's Storia della Pittura Italiana; Lanzi's Hist. of Painting in Italy; Walpole's Anecdotes of Painters, ed. Dallaway and Wornum; De Piles's Lives of the Painters; Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1629–31; Salvetti Correspondence (Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. app. x. pt. i. p. 97); Sainsbury's Original Papers relating to Rubens; Fine Arts Quarterly Review, iv. 413; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. viii. 121; Law's Cat. of the Pictures at Hampton Court; Vertue's Cat. of King Charles I's Collection; Mariette's Abecedario.]

L. C.