Antiveduto Grammatica

(Rome, 1569 - Rome, 1626)

Born in Rome in December 1569 (F. Petrucci, “L’atto di nascita di Antiveduto Gramatica”, Paragone, 57, 2004, pp. 79-80), Gramatica owes his curious name to circumstances narrated by the biographer Giovanni Baglione. His father wanted his wife to have their child before they left for Rome, where the family (native of Siena) was planning to settle, but the woman insisted on undertaking the journey, and had to give birth in an inn on the way. Her husband said to her “I foresaw [“ho antiveduto”] this mess ; and so when he was born, and brought to Rome, where he was baptised in Saint Peter’s, he was named Antiveduto” (G. Baglione, Le Vite de’ Pittori Scultori et Architetti dal Pontificato di Gregorio XIII del 1572 In fino a’ tempi di Papa Urbano Ottavo nel 1642 Rome 1642, facsimile reprint, ed. V. Mariani, Rome 1935, and Rome 1970, p. 292).

He was trained in Rome with the Perugian painter Giovan Domenico Angelini, whose workshop also included the Sienese artist Ventura Salimbeni (G. Papi, Antiveduto Gramatica, Soncino 1995, p. 7). His father Imperiale (also a painter) had been trained in Siena and thus the young Antiveduto was not only able to follow Salimbeni but observe the works of Francesco Vanni and Federico Barocci.

In his early years he headed a busy shop specialising in portraits of famous men, earning the nickname “Gran Capocciante”, and he hosted his contemporary Caravaggio at the beginning of his Roman sojourn between 1592 and 1593. Measuring himself with Caravaggio led Antiveduto to abandon his own neo - Mannerist, Barocci-influenced language and move towards the early naturalism of the great Lombard master, a style rooted in the art of Lombardy and Giorgione and reflected in the work Caravaggio was creating in Cavalier d’Arpino’s shop in 1593-1594. His adherence to naturalism is better documented during the first decade of the Seicento, and runs parallel with the evolution of Tommaso Salini, with whom Gramatica shows close similarities.

During the 1610s his paintings became intensely naturalistic, with dynamic contrasts of light and dark, also revealing the influence of his friend Orazio Borgianni. From the end of the 1610s he became a fully integrated member of the Roman artistic milieu, culminating in his election as principe of the Accademia di San Luca. It is from this period that Antiveduto’s work reflects a personal response to a classicising style, and to Domenichino in particular.

Tiziana Zennaro