Antiveduto Grammatica (1571–1626) – an expert on heads with an extraordinary name

Antiveduto Grammatica, Adoration of the Shepherds, fragment, Church of San Giacomo in Augusta

Antiveduto Grammatica, Adoration of the Shepherds, fragment, Church of San Giacomo in Augusta

The artist’s strange name, which in Italian (from the word antivedere) means „I told you so”, is connected with the fact that he was born on the way from Siena to Rome, which  was most likely in a caring or joking manner predicted by his father. Along with him Antiveduto moved to the Eternal City and after apprenticing at the workshop of Domenico Angelini began his independent career by painting portraits.

Antiveduto Grammatica, Adoration of the Shepherds, fragment, Church of San Giacomo in Augusta
Antiveduto Grammatica, Christ the Savior with St. Stanislaus of Krakow, St. Adalbert of Prague and St. Hyacinth Odrowaz, Church of San  Stanislao dei Polacchi
Antivenuto Grammatica, Madonna with Child Adored by St. Hyacinth and Other Saints, Church of Santa Maria della Scala
Antiveduto Grammatica, St Luke Painting the Virgin, Church of Sant Luca e Martina
Antiveduto Grammatica, Adoration of the Shepherds, Church of San Giacomo in Augusta
Antiveduto Gramatica, The Suicide of Cleopatra, approx. 1610, private collection

The artist’s strange name, which in Italian (from the word antivedere) means „I told you so”, is connected with the fact that he was born on the way from Siena to Rome, which  was most likely in a caring or joking manner predicted by his father. Along with him Antiveduto moved to the Eternal City and after apprenticing at the workshop of Domenico Angelini began his independent career by painting portraits.

 

His images were so popular, that – as is written by a tireless biographer of those times Giovanni Baglione – “nobody was better than he in forming and coloring heads, and he also splendidly expressed similarity (…)and no duke or any other famous man, coming to Rome, could forego visiting Antiveduto, so that he would portray him; thanks to which he became a rich man, while his heads were so exceptional and well-made, that he acquired the nickname of »great painter of heads«”. In order to fulfill his numerous commissions he employed many assistants. That is how a peer of his found his way to his workshop - Caravaggio

Antiveduto was quickly noticed by the then patron and enthusiast of art, Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte, the same who discovered the talent of Caravaggio. From that time the artist’s career moved rapidly forward, while commissions became more ambitious. Until 1610 his religious compositions were marked with the style of mannerism, but Caravaggio’s fame also left a mark on him, since in time the full of affectation paintings of Grammatica became more and more genre and naturalistic additionally filled with strong lighting contrasts.

 

The painter was known as a lover of poetry and had intellectual ambitions, and besides that, as is shown by Baglione, who was favorably disposed to him „was a kind and good Christian of courtly manners.” He also received the honor, of being named the director of the Academy of St. Luke (Accademia San Luca). However, soon he resigned from this post – reason being an accusation by his competitor Tommaso Salini of embezzlement, or more appropriately of the intention to sell a painting by Raffaello and replace it with a copy.

Some of the paintings of Antiveduto Grammatika   in Rome:

  •     Church of San Stanislao dei Polacchi, main altar – Christ the Savior with St. Stanislaus of Krakow, St. Adalbert of Prague and St. Hyacinth Odrowaz, 1594
  •     Church of Santa Maria della Scala, Madonna with Child Adored by St. Hyacinth and Other Saints (attributed to the artist)
  •     Church of Santi Luca e Martina – Saint Luke painting the Virgin, 1623
  •     Church of San Giacomo in Augusta, Adoration of the Shepherds, 1626
  •     Musei Vaticani – Pinacoteca Vaticana, Praxedes and Pudentiana