Gian Pietro Bellori  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Gian Pietro Bellori (also known as Giovanni Pietro Bellori or Giovan Pietro Bellori, 1613 - 1696) was a prominent biographer of the Italian Baroque artists of the seventeenth century. As an art historian, he was the Baroque equivalent of Giorgio Vasari.


Likely nephew of the antiquarian collector and writer Francesco Angeloni, he lived in Angeloni's home in Rome. He apparently took art lessons from Domenichino. As a young man, he became a member of the Accademia di San Luca, but studied and wrote about classical and contemporary art. In 1664 he delivered an influential speech to the Accademia on the Ideal in Art. In 1672 he published this as a preface to his biographies of recent and contemporary artists, titled: Le vite de’ pittori, scultori et architetti moderni (The lives of the modern painters, sculptors, and architects).

In his view, the Renaissance ideal had been rescued from the tangled post-Raphael and Michelangelo styles by the robust classicism of those following the Carracci's style. Bellori advocated idealism over realism or naturalism. This famously led to Bellori's reverence of the painting of Annibale Carracci and sanguine repudiation of Caravaggio. His writing of the 'Idea' is draws influence from Giovanni Battista Agucchi, Vasari, Leon Battista Alberti, Aristotle and others. His heroes were Domenichino and Nicolas Poussin, his friend. Alessandro Algardi gained more praise than Bernini (who is not mentioned in Bellori's Lives). He respected Andrea Sacchi, and his pupil Carlo Maratta, but shunned Pietro da Cortona.

Vasari's definition of "disegno" (which was at that time seen as the most important element to a painting or sculpture's artistic value) is tied up in the concept of 'prudence', and forms the basis of subsequent value judgements in art by the likes of Bellori. An artist's work could essentially be seen as a series of choices, and the wisdom of these choices was owed to the character, or 'prudence' of the artist. Bellori and Agucchi, after Aristotle, equated the practice of idealism with prudent choice, and naturalism with poor prudence.

He had been curator of antiquities for Pope Clement X. In 1671, he was appointed secretary of the Accademia di San Luca, then librarian and antiquarian to the Queen Christina of Sweden. he died in 1690 in Rome.

Bellori's Lives of the Artists also discusses the brothers Annibale and Agostino Carracci, Domenico Fontana, Federico Barocci, Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Francois Duquesnoy and Lanfranco. His preference for the Bolognese artists Bellori's planned sequel was never completed, except for the entries for Guido Reni, Sacchi and Maratta.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Gian Pietro Bellori" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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