Luca Cambiaso

Born: 1527  - Death: 1585    Located in: The Parmigianino Room

Born in the Republic of Genoa, in Moneglia to a painter, Giovanni Cambiasi, Luca Cambiasi was known as, Cambiaso, also Cangiagio and Lucchetto da Genova. He started painting at a young age with his father, his first works as early as 15 years of age. Then at 17 years old he helped decorate the Palazzo Doria. He worked with the historical painter, Il Bergamasco (1500 – 1579), and assisted him in decorations for the church of San Matteo.

Cambiaso was a passionate and bold designer, styled much after Raphael (1483 – 1520) and Michelangelo (1475 – 1564); mentioned to sometimes to paint with a brush in each hand. He was strongly influenced by the impassioned works of Correggio (1489 – 1534), and was influenced by the Late Renaissance Venetians; sometimes equaled to the Venetian master Tintoretto (1518 – 1594). Though, his drawing style was highly individual, taking on a simplified geometric form, noted as almost cubist in style. Cambiaso is best represented in Genoa, in the church of San Giorgio with his Martyrdom of San Giorgio and in the Santa Maria da Carignano there is his, Pietà, containing his own portrait and, according to tradition, that of his beloved sister-in-law.

In his 30s, his artistic output began to decline in power, though not at once in reputation, owing to troubles brought on by a passion he conceived for his sister-in-law. His wife having died, and the sister-in-law having taken charge of his house and children, he then failed to procure a papal dispensation for marrying her. Nonetheless, Cambiaso painted a number of notable works, including his much praised poetic night scenes, Adoration of the Shepherds in 1570 and the so called Madonna of the Candle of 1575, which was inspired by Correggio’s Nativity.

In the Uffizi Gallery today is his, Madonna and Child. In 1583 he accepted an invitation from Philip II of Spain (1527 – 1598) to complete a series of frescoes begun by Il Bergamasco for the Royal Monastery of Escorial. It has been said that his principal reason for traveling to Spain was in hopes that royal influence would gain favor with the Vatican for his marriage plans, but this failed. In the Escorial he executed a Paradise on the vaulting of the church, with a multitude of figures. For this painting alone he received 2,000 ducats, probably the largest sum, up to that time, ever paid for a single work. He died there in Spain.

Cambiaso’s son, Orazio, became a painter, and Cambiaso himself received numerous followers of his style from Genoa as the leading artist there in the 16th Century; subsequently founding what is known as the Genoese School of painting.

(Some of this biography is taken from the text at’s entry on Luca Cambiasi under GNU Free Documentation License.)

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