Antonio Tempesta  

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Antonio Tempesta (1555-1630) was an Italian painter and engraver, a point of connection between Baroque Rome and the culture of Antwerp.

He was born and trained in Florence and painted in a variety of styles, influenced to some degree by "Contra-Maniera" or Counter-Mannerism. He enrolled in the Florentine Accademia delle Arti del Disegno in 1576, and was a pupil of Santi di Tito, then of the Flemish painter Joannes Stradanus. He is now best known as a printmaker in etching and engraving.

He was part of the large set of artists working under Giorgio Vasari on the interior decoration of the Palazzo Vecchio.

His favorite subjects were battles, cavalcades, and processions. He relocated to Rome, where he associated with artists from the Netherlands, which may have led to his facility with landscape painting.


He and Mattheus Brill were commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII to paint wide panoramas of the Procession to Transfer the Relics of St Gregory of Nazianzus (1572) for the loggias on the third floor of the Vatican Palace. He completed frescoes in the Palazzina Gambara at the Villa Lante in Bagnaia (1578-09). From 1579-1583, Tempesta participated in the decoration of the Villa Farnese in Caprarola, notably of this villa's Scala Regia. He is also known to have collaborated on frescoes in the Villa d'Este at Tivoli and the Palazzina Gamara at Villa Lante, Bagnaia He painted series of turbulent and crowded battle scenes for the Medici. He also completed a series of engravings on outdoor courtly hunting scenes. He illustrated many books, including editions of Ovid. He also painted frescoes for the Palazzos Colonna, the Doria Pamphilj, and for the Marchese Giustiniani in his Roman palace, where Tempesta collaborated with Paul Bril and at Bassano Sutri. He also drew many designs for tapestries. He painted a Murder of the Innocents for the church of Santo Stefano Rotondo in Rome. He also left mumerous etchings, among them: Plates from the Old Testament; twenty-four plates from the Life of St. Anthony; a set of one hundred and fifty prints from Ovid’s Metamorphoses; thirteen plates on The Labors of Hercules; four plates on The Ages of Man; The Entry of Alexander into Babylon; Diana and Actaon, and The Crucifixion (1612).

In the church of Santo Stefano Rotondo, there is a Murder of the Innocents. He also left some 1800 etchings. Among his numerous prints are plates from the Old Testament; Twenty-four plates from the Life of St. Anthony; A set of one hundred and fifty prints from Ovid’s Metamorphoses; The Labors of Hercules: The Ages of Man in four plates; The Entry of Alexander into Babylon; Diana and Acteaon; and The Crucifixion (1612).

He engraved plates in "Batavorum cum Romanis Bellum" for Otto van Veen, also known as Vaenius, which was produced in 1612. It consists of 36 numbered engraved plates by Antonio Tempesta after Vaenius. It is a series of allegorical engravings illustrating the armed struggle between the ancient Dutch tribes and their Roman oppressors inspired by Tacitus's history. Each plate bears an engraved legend below in Flemish and in Latin; a detailed explanation is printed on the otherwise blank verso. This historicist work, very popular in its time, was achieved by two great artists: the designer, Otto Vaenius (Otto van Veen 1556-1629), court painter to Alessandro Farnese, was influenced by the Italian mannerists but had developed his own style anticipating the Flemish baroque of his pupil Peter Paul Rubens; the engraver, Antonio Tempesta (1555-1630), specialized in battle scenes. Plate I, signed 'Ant.Tempesta f. Anno 1611', shows 'Roma' and 'Batavia' in battle dress with respective scenic backgrounds, symbolizing the two nations; 15 other plates bear Tempesta's monogramme. The plates depict heroic events, sieges, and battle scenes.

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