Giuseppe Maria Crespi

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Crespi, Giuseppe Maria


Born Mar. 16, 1665, in Bologna; died there July 16, 1747. Italian painter.

Crespi’s works were in opposition to the principles of the Bolognese academicism and were characterized by a striving to achieve naturalism and lively expressiveness of forms. He executed pastoral and mythological compositions (The Shepherdess and Shepherd, Hermitage, Leningrad), portraits (Self-portrait With Family, Uffizi Gallery, Florence), and genre paintings (The Fair at Poggio a Cagliano, 1704, Uffizi; The Washerwoman, Hermitage). Crespi imparted romantic excitement to everyday motifs through lighting effects and the emotional expressiveness of his earthen-colored palette and impasto brushwork.

Crespi’s masterpieces include the series Seven Sacraments (Picture Gallery, Dresden, c. 1708–12) and a series on biblical themes, which includes The Death of Joseph (c. 1712, Hermitage). In these works the artist endows the subject matter with genre characteristics, treating it in an intimate, emotional manner. An atmosphere of dramatic tension and mournful detachment is created in Crespi’s paintings by patches of lifeless, cold light, which contrast with thick brown shadows and give the

objects material sharpness. The emotionally restrained poses and gestures of the figures also help to create this atmosphere.


Libman, M. Dzhuzeppe Mariia Krespi. Moscow, 1967. Voss, H. Giuseppe Maria Crespi. Rome, 1921.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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