1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cambiasi, Luca
CAMBIASI, LUCA (1527–1585), Genoese painter, familiarly known as Lucchetto da Genova (his surname is written also Cambiaso or Cangiagio), was born at Moneglia in the Genoese state, the son of a painter named Giovanni Cambiasi. He took to drawing at a very early age, imitating his father, and developed great aptitude for foreshortening. At the age of fifteen he painted, along with his father, some subjects from Ovid’s Metamorphoses on the front of a house in Genoa, and afterwards, in conjunction with Marcantonio Calvi, a ceiling showing great daring of execution in the Palazzo Doria. He also formed an early friendship with Giambattista Castello; both artists painted together, with so much similarity of style that their works could hardly be told apart; from this friend Cambiasi learned much in the way of perspective and architecture. Luchetto’s best artistic period lasted for twelve years after his first successes; from that time he declined in power, though not at once in reputation, owing to the agitations and vexations brought upon him by a passion which he conceived for his sister-in-law. His wife having died, and the sister-in-law having taken charge of his house and children, he endeavoured to procure a papal dispensation for marrying her; but in this he was disappointed. In 1583 he accepted an invitation from Philip II. to continue in the Escorial a series of frescoes which had been begun by Castello, now deceased; and it is said that one principal reason for his closing with this offer was that he hoped to bring the royal influence to bear upon the pope, but in this again he failed. Worn out with his disquietudes, he died in the Escorial in the second year of his sojourn. Cambiasi had an ardent fancy, and was a bold designer in a Raphaelesque mode. His extreme facility astonished the Spanish painters; and it is said that Philip II., watching one day with pleasure the offhand zest with which Luchetto was painting a head of a laughing child, was allowed the further surprise of seeing the laugh changed, by a touch or two upon the lips, into a weeping expression. The artist painted sometimes with a brush in each hand, and with a certainty equalling or transcending that even of Tintoret. He made a vast number of drawings, and was also something of a sculptor, executing in this branch of art a figure of Faith. Altogether he ranks as one of the ablest artists of his day. In personal character, notwithstanding his executive energy, he is reported to have been timid and diffident. His son Orazio became likewise a painter, studying under Luchetto.
The best works of Cambiasi are to be seen in Genoa. In the church of S. Giorgio—the martyrdom of that saint; in the Palazzo Imperiali Terralba, a Genoese suburb—a fresco of the “Rape of the Sabines”; in S. Maria da Carignano—a “Pietà,” containing his own portrait and (according to tradition) that of his beloved sister-in-law. In the Escorial he executed several pictures; one is a Paradise on the vaulting of the church, with a multitude of figures. For this picture he received 12,000 ducats, probably the largest sum that had, up to that time, ever been given for a single work.