Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Giovanni Battista Gaulli


Gaulli, Giovanni Battista, called Baciccio, an Italian painter; b. at Genoa, 1639; d. at Rome, 1709. He first studied in Genoa under Borzone, who instructed him in design and coloring. Early in life he went to Rome and became a pupil of Bernini and Mario Nuzzi da Fiori, whose assistance and recommendation laid the foundation of his fortune and reputation. A considerable part of his life was given over to portrait painting. He is said to have executed paintings of seven pontiffs—from Alexandria VII to Clement XI and of all the cardinals of his time. His paintings of children show much grace and vivacity. His greatest merit, however, lies in his historical compositions, which show good arrangement, agreeable coloring, and a spirited touch. Sometimes his work was incorrect and heavy, and his draperies too stiff. He understood the art of foreshortening his figures in a marked degree, as shown by his work in the angles of the dome of S. Agnese, in the Palazzo Navona. His chief work is the painting of the "Assumption of St. Francis Xavier", in the vault of the church of the Gesu Rome. This picture is celebrated for the boldness and truth of the foreshortening, and the brilliancy of the coloring. Another celebrated work is the "Virgin and Child, surrounded by angels, with St. Anne kneeling in front"; it is in the church of S. Francesco a Ripa; and in the church of Sant' Andrea there is an altarpiece by Gaulli of the "Death of St. Francis Xavier". Gaulli's facility of composition, rapidity of hand, and clear bright style rendered his mural paintings very attractive to his contemporaries; but these works are now considered as belonging to an essentially superficial style of art. He is one of the painters called by his countrymen Macchinisti. His faults are less obtrusive in his easel pictures, and his manner more varied.

Thomas H. Poole.