The vast majority of Christian martyrdoms have no independent historical confirmation. From a number of different clues it is clear that stories of martyrdom were fabricated - some in the first millennium, the vast majority in the High Middle Ages. These fabricated stories were custom made for their audience, and what went down best were stories of steadfast martyrs, entirely innocent and virginal, dreadfully abused by monstrous and vindictive pagans.
Lorenzo di Niccolò or Lorenzo di Niccolò di Martino was an Italian painter active in Florence from 1391 to 1412. Often erroneously cited as the son of Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, with whom he realized some works, this artist transformed his style from one more reminiscent of Giotto to one more elegant and linear, similar to that of such artists as Lorenzo Monaco. Together with Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, he painted some frescoes in the Chapterhouse of the convent of San Francesco (Prato) and the panel Coronation of the Virgin, once in Santa Felicita. A slightly later work on the same subject for the Medici Chapel in Santa Croce, Florence, dated to 1409 in the predella, today is split between its original location and the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum in Milan. More
These martyrs suffered a vast range of tortures. They survived long after any normal person would have died, suffering unspeakable agonies. Often God miraculously turned the tortures against the evil perpetrator, who usually died in front of his victim.
Andrea Vaccaro (baptised on 8 May 1604 – 18 January 1670) see below
A massively disproportionate number of these victims were nubile young women whose suffering included being stripped and humiliated. With the benefit of modern knowledge it is easy to identify sadomasochistic tendencies in these stories and associated art. More
Two cities in Sicily, Palermo and Catania, dispute the honor of having given birth to St. Agatha; what is certain is that it was martyred in Catania, an ancient port city on Sicily's east coast., under the Emperor Decius. More
Saint Agatha of Sicily (231 AD – 251 AD) is a Christian saint and virgin martyr Agatha was born at Catania or Palermo, Sicily, and she was martyred in approximately 251. She is one of seven women, who, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.
His first trip to Rome was in 1617 to 1618, where he worked in Santa Maria della Scala, where traces of his work remain. He returned to the Eternal City several times between 1620 and about 1630. In 1621, pope Gregory XV awarded him the title of Knight of the Golden Spur and in 1627, he received the title of Knight of Saint George and Urban VIII invested him with the Order of Christ which, in Spain, gave him the title Caballero Máximo.
Naples was the third largest city in 17th century Europe after Paris and London. In 1630, it was a center of opportunity for artistic commissions. Many of these artistic commissions were sought after by the Spanish Viceroys who maintained positions of political power in Naples at this time. Other art enthusiasts arrived from various Mediterranean ports in Naples looking for artistic expertise. Stanzione along with Bernardo Cavallino and most importantly Artemisia Gentileschi represented a new and more graceful painting style.
Stanzione joined Artemisia daily to observe her while she painted and may have imitated her coloring style. However, later writers credited Artemisia with influencing Stanzione’s rich light effects and greater classicizing. Gentileschi and Stanzioni collaborated on certain works such as Birth of St. John the Baptist for Philip IV’s Buen Retiro Palace. The two artists compromised their styles; Gentileschi subdued her realist style of tenebrism and substituted it with more even lighting and classical composition, and the two succeeded in creating an agreeable collection. Stanzione’s Saint Agatha In Prison along with his Young Saint John the Baptist were his first known works. Those works combine the influence of Reni and Domenichino among others to create a composition of “lyric classicism”. More
Saint Agatha is the patron saint of Catania, Molise, Malta, San Marino, and Zamarramala, a municipality of the Province of Segovia in Spain. She is also the patron saint of breast cancer patients, martyrs, wet nurses, bell-founders, bakers, fire, earthquakes, and eruptions of Mount Etna. More
In the legend of her life, we are told that she belonged to a rich, important family. When she was young, she dedicated her life to God and resisted any men who wanted to marry her or have sex with her. One of these men, Quintian, was of a high enough rank that he felt he could force her to acquiesce. Knowing she was a Christian in a time of persecution, he had her arrested and brought before the judge - - himself. He expected her to give in to when faced with torture and possible death, but she simply affirmed her belief in God by praying: "Jesus Christ, Lord of all, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am. I am your sheep: make me worthy to overcome the devil."
Andrea Vaccaro (Naples 1604-1670), see above
Legend tells us that Quintian imprisoned her in a brothel in order to get her to change her mind. Quintian brought her back before him after she had suffered a month of assault and humiliation in the brothel, but Agatha had never wavered, proclaiming that her freedom came from Jesus.
Francesco Guarino or Guarini (1611-1651 or 1654) was an Italian painter of the Baroque period, active mainly in the mountainous area east of Naples. He was born in Sant'Andrea Apostolo, today a frazione of Solofra in the Province of Avellino, Campania, and died in Gravina di Puglia. He was a pupil first locally of his father, Giovanni Tommaso Guarino, before moving to Naples to work in the studio of Massimo Stanzione. In Naples, like many of his contemporaries there, he was influenced by the style of Caravaggio. In his selection of models who appear to have been plucked from the streets of Naples, he recalls the style of Bernardo Cavallino, the fellow-pupil of Stanzioni. Among his masterpieces are the works for the Collegiata di San Michele Arcangelo in Solofra. More
Jehan Bellegambe or Jean Bellegambe (sometimes Belgamb or Belganb) (ca. 1470 – ca. June 1535–March 1536) was a French-speaking Flemish painter of religious paintings, triptychs and polyptychs, the most important of which are now held at Douai, Arras, Aix, Lille, Saint Petersburg and Chicago. He was known as the 'master of colours' for the transparency and interplay of his colours. He is known as Jehan Bellegambe the elder to distinguish him from his descendents who were also called Jehan. More
Quintian sent her to prison, instead of back to the brothel -- a move intended to make her more afraid, but which probably was a great relief to her.
When she continued to profess her faith in Jesus, Quintian had her tortured. He refused her any medical care but God gave her all the care she needed in the form of a vision of St. Peter.
As usual in her portraits, Agatha has long, blond hair and holds a palm branch in her left hand. She points to Heaven because "I have my Lord Jesus Christ, and he by a single word can cure everything … If he so wills, he can cure me instantly." Peter reveals himself and says she has been healed in Jesus' name; then Agatha prays in thanksgiving and finds that her breasts are restored. More
Afterwards, while still technically a member of the Carracci studio of Carracci, Lanfranco, along with Guido Reni and Francesco Albani, frescoed the Herrera (San Diego) Chapel in San Giacomo degli Spagnoli (1602–1607). He also participated in the fresco decoration of San Gregorio Magno and of the Cappella Paolina in Santa Maria Maggiore. More
Giovanni Martinelli (Montevarchi, Arezzo 1600 - Florence 1659) was an Italian, Baroque era painter active mainly in Florence. On the 400th anniversary of his birth, the artist finally received the acknowledgement he merits; He was the subject, first, of a monographic volume containing various essays dedicated to aspects of his brilliant sacred and profane production, both on canvas and in frescoes, and, subsequently, of an exhibition organized by the Uffizi in his native town.
Martinelli started his apprenticeship in the studio of Jacopo Ligozzi in Florence, and stayed there until 1625. Though there is no documented trace of the artist during the following ten years, he most likely sojourned in Rome, beginning a long and profitable period of study.
Martinelli painted allegories characterized by the prevailing influence of Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi as well as the French Vouet and Valentin. The faces of the protagonists in the paintings of those years are rendered with exceptional clarity, of Caravaggesque derivation, and illuminated by extraordinarily clear, cold colour tones.
In 1636, Martinelli began to paint more complex allegories and to darken the range of colour tones. Although devoid of any chronological reference, the paintings made in this stylistic phase clearly distinct themselves from the ones created in the earlier periods. More
Andrea Vaccaro (Naples 1604-1670), see above
When she was tortured again, Saint Agatha died after saying a final prayer: "Lord, my Creator, you have always protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer. Receive my soul."
Sebastiano del Piombo (c. 1485 – 21 June 1547), byname of Sebastiano Luciani, was an Italian painter of the High Renaissance and early Mannerist periods famous as the only major artist of the period to combine the coloring of the Venetian school in which he was trained with the monumental forms of the Roman school.
His nickname derived from the lucrative Papal appointment as Keeper of the Seal, which he held from 1531. Never a very disciplined or productive painter, his artistic productivity fell still further after this, which committed him to attend on the pope most days, and travel with him. He now painted mostly portraits, and relatively few works of his survive compared to his great contemporaries in Rome. This limited his involvement with the Mannerist style of his later years.
Having achieved success as a lutanist when young, he turned to painting and trained with Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione. When he first went to Rome he worked with Raphael and then became one of the few painters to get on well with Michelangelo, who tried to promote his career by encouraging to compete for commissions against Raphael.
He painted portraits and religious subjects in oils, and once he was established avoided the large fresco schemes that took up so much of the time of Raphael and Michelangelo. His subsequent influence was limited by his lack of prominent pupils, compared to Raphael at least, and relatively little dissemination of his works in print copies. More
Because one of the tortures she supposedly suffered was to have her breasts cut off, she was often depicted carrying her breasts on a plate. It is thought that blessing of the bread that takes place on her feast may have come from the mistaken notion that she was carrying loaves of bread.
In 1633, Cairo moved to Turin to work as a court painter. Between 1637–1638, Cairo travelled to Rome, where he encounters the works of Pietro da Cortona, Guido Reni and of the Caravaggisti. He returns to Lombardy to complete altarpieces for the Certosa of Pavia and a church at Casalpusterlengo. Between 1646–1649, he returns to Turin, and paints an altarpiece for Savigliano and the church of San Salvario. He is also known as Il Cavalière del Cairo, because in Turin, he received the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus in recognition of his merit.
Many of his works are eccentric depictions of religious ecstasies; the saints appear liquefied and contorted by piety. He often caps them with exuberant, oriental turbans. More
Because she was asked for help during the eruption of Mount Etna she is considered a protector against the outbreak of fire. She is also considered the patroness of bellmakers for an unknown reason -- though some speculate it may have something to do with the fact that bells were used as fire alarms. More
In 1522, in Mantua, he studied painting, architecture, and modelling under Giulio Romano. He visited Rome, became an ardent student of the antique, and like Bernardino he combined a Lombard and Roman traditions. He collaborated on some works with Camillo Boccaccino, the son of Boccaccio Boccaccino, with whom Campi may also have received training.
When he was just twenty-seven Giulio executed for the church of Sant'Abondio his masterpiece, a Virgin and Child with Sts Celsus and Nazarus, a decoration masterly in the freedom of its drawing and in the splendour of its color. Many of his fresco works are housed in churches of Cremona, Mantua, Milan and in the church of Saint Margaret's, in his native town. Among his chief works are the Descent from the Cross in San Sigismondo at Cremona, and the frescoes in the dome of San Girolamo at Mantua. He was involved in the reconstruction and decoration of the church of Santa Rita in Cremona.
He died in Cremona in 1572. More
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