Genevieve Warwick on Alexandra Hoare’s forthcoming books on Salvator Rosa

A contribution by


Prof. Genevieve Warwick
History of Art, University of Edinburgh

Alexandra Hoare’s book is an impressive piece of scholarship that, together with her translation of Rosa’s letters and extensive illustrations of his work, will be a standard reference text for any further research on this important artist. Hoare deftly unpacks the distinctive manner in which Rosa positioned himself as an artistic figure within a seicento concept of art as the fruit of shared intellectual interests among friends, whose work and letters bring to light many of the key concepts for any understanding of early modern painting.

Salvator Rosa

Friendship and the Free Artist in Seventeenth-Century Italy


By  Alexandra Hoare

This book examines the Neapolitan painter and satirist Salvator Rosa (1615-1673) from a new perspective. Preoccupied with a performative brand of self-manufacture that is everywhere apparent in his work as an artist, satirist and actor, Rosa was a key protagonist in a period of significant social change. A precursor of the modern independent artist, Rosa was also among the first of his generation to actively seek and in many ways achieve the kind of professional autonomy his predecessors desired and his successors fully accomplished. The author argues that the social bond of friendship—its rituals and discourses—was vital to both Rosa’s self-conception and his achievements. Five chapters explore this phenomenon in connection with various contexts central to Rosa’s professional practice and identity: theatrical performance; the academy; the practices of conversation, letter writing and poetry; the ritual of gift-giving and the cultivation of the topos of “the friend as a second self,” here considered in relation to a portrait painted for a friend; and the art market. The book also responds to and outlines for the reader the current state of scholarship on Rosa, a field of study that has gained significant momentum in the last decade and to which the book itself seeks to make a meaningful contribution.

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The Letters of Salvator Rosa (1615–1673)

An Italian Transcription, English Translation and Critical Edition

By Alexandra Hoare







These two volumes comprise the first English translation and critical edition of the extant letters of the Neapolitan painter and satirist Salvator Rosa (1615-1673). Presented in a revised Italian transcription and a complete English translation, the letters are accompanied by extensive historical notes, a philological apparatus, a comprehensive index, appendices, and photographs of the manuscripts. A number of previously unpublished letters also appear here for the first time. Unique among early modern primary documents for their quantity and exceptional for their candour, Rosa’s letters are not only a fascinating and intimate chronicle of the artist himself but also an invaluable record of the activities and aspirations of his contemporaries, offering useful insights into historical persons, ideas and events. An indispensable early modern primary source, comparable in significance to the letters of Michelangelo, Nicolas Poussin or Peter Paul Rubens, Rosa’s letters here receive a long-overdue analysis and an English translation that seeks to make more accessible their contents, frequently impenetrable to even native Italian speakers.

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