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Domenico Fetti
Born c. 1589
Rome, Italy
Died 1623
Nationality Italian
Field Painting
Movement Baroque
Patrons Duke Ferdinando I Gonzaga
Influenced by Peter Paul Rubens
Influenced Pietro della Vecchia
Sebastiano Mazzone
Archimedes Thoughtful (1620).
Portrait of a Actor ( Tristano Martinelli), formerly thought to be of Claudio Monteverdi,[1] (c 1621-22) (Galleria Accademia, Venice). Detail.

Domenico Fetti (also spelled Feti, c. 1589 – 1623) was an Italian Baroque painter active mainly in Rome, Mantua and Venice.



Born in Rome to a little-known painter, Pietro Fetti, Domenico is said to have apprenticed initially under Ludovico Cigoli, or his pupil Andrea Commodi in Rome from circa 1604-1613. He then worked in Mantua from 1613 to 1622, patronized by the Cardinal, later Duke Ferdinando I Gonzaga. In the Ducal Palace, he painted the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes. The series of representations of New Testament parables he carried out for his patron's studiolo gave rise to a popular specialty,[2] and he and his studio often repeated his compositions.[3]

In August or September 1622,[4] his feuds with some prominent Mantuans led him to move to Venice, which for the first few decades of the seventeenth century had persisted in sponsoring Mannerist styles (epitomized by Palma the Younger and the successors of Tintoretto and Veronese). Into this mix, in the 1620s–30s, three "foreigners"—Fetti and his younger contemporaries Bernardo Strozzi and Jan Lys—breathed the first influences of Roman Baroque style. They adapted some of the rich coloration of Venice but adapted it to Caravaggio-influenced realism and monumentality.[5]

In Venice where he remained despite pleas from the Duke to return to Mantua, Fetti changed his style: his formalised painting style became more painterly and colourful. In addition, he devoted attention to smaller cabinet pieces that adapt genre imaging to religious stories. His group of paintings entitled Parables, which represent New Testament scenes, are at the Dresden Gemäldegalerie. He influenced Leonaert Bramer.

His style appears to be influenced by Rubens. He would likely have continued to find excellent patronage in Venice had he not died there in 1623 or 1624. Jan Lys, eight years younger, but who had arrived in Venice nearly contemporaneously, died during the plague of 1629-30. Subsequently, Fetti's style would influence the Venetians Pietro della Vecchia and Sebastiano Mazzone.


Some works

  • The Good Samaritan (attributed, Metropolitan Museum, New York)
  • Works at the Louvre
    • Melancholy
    • Emperor Domitian
    • Eve and Laboring Adam
    • Angel in the Garden
  • Jacob's Dream (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)
  • Portraits of Tristano Martinelli (Venice Accademia (illustrated right) and Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg)[6]


  1. ^ Pamela Askew, "Fetti's 'Portrait of an Actor' Reconsidered", The Burlington Magazine 120 No. 899 (February 1978:59-65).
  2. ^ Pamela Askew, "The Parable Paintings of Domenico Fetti." Art Bulletin 43 (1961:31-32], reprinted in Seventeenth Century Art in Italy, France and Spain (The Garland Library of the History of Art 8). New York, 1976.
  3. ^ Some examples: The Good Samaritan, attributed to Fetti himself, ca 1618-22 (Metropolitan Museum of Art), repetitions by Fetti are in Boston and Dresden, as well as studio repetitions; Parable of the Mote and the Beam, attributed, ca 1619 (Metropolitan Museum); Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, workshop, ca 1618-1628 (National Gallery of Art, Washington DC).
  4. ^ Askew 1978.
  5. ^ See Alfred Moir, The Italian Followers of Caravaggio. 2 vols. (Harvard University Press) 1967.
  6. ^ Still often miscalled Monteverdi; see Denis Stevens, "Martinelli, Not Monteverdi", Early Music 22.1 Monteverdi II (February 1994:185f).


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