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Solario, Antonio

SOLARIO, ANTONIO (c. 1382-1455), Italian painter of the Neapolitan school, commonly called Lo Zingaro, or The Gipsy. His father is said to have been a travelling smith. To all appearance Antonio was born at Civita in the Abruzzi, although it is true that one of his pictures is signed " Antonio de Solario Venetus," which may possibly be accounted for on the ground that the signature is not genuine. Solario is said to have gone through a love-adventure similar to that of the Flemish painter, Quintin Massys. He was at first a smith, and did a job of work in the house of the prime Neapolitan painter Colantonio del Fiore; he fell in love with Colantonio's daughter, and she with him; and the father, to stave him off, said if he would come back in ten years an accomplished painter the young lady should be his. Solario studied the art, returned in nine years, and claimed and obtained his bride. The fact is that Colantonio del Fiore is one of those painters who never existed; consequently his daughter never existed, and the whole story, as relating to these particular personages, must be untrue. Whether it has any truth, in relation to some unidentified painter and his daughter, is a separate question which we cannot decide. Solario made an extensive round of study first with Lippo Dalmasio in Bologna, and afterwards in Venice, Ferrara, Florence and Rome. On returning to Naples he rapidly took the first place in his art. His principal performance is in the court of the monastery of S. Severino twenty large frescoes illustrating . the life of St Benedict, now greatly decayed; they present a vast variety of figures and details, with dexterous modelling and colouring. Sometimes, however, Lo Zingaro's colour is crude, and he generally shows weakness of draughtmanship in hands and feet. His tendency is that of a naturalist the heads lifelike and individual, and the landscape backgrounds better invented and cared for than in any contemporary. In the Studj gallery of Naples are three pictures attributed to this master, the. most remarkable one being a "Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints." The heads here are reputed to be mostly portraits. Solario initiated a mode of art new in Naples; and the works painted between his time and that of Tesauro (c. 1470) are locally termed " Zingareschi." He had many scholars, but not of pre-eminent standing Nicola Vito, Simone Papa, Angiolillo Roccadirame, Pietro and Ippolito dal Donzello. It has often been said that Solario painted in oil, but of this there is no evidence.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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