The Head of a Bearded Man

Fra SEMPLICE DA VERONA (Verona, 1589 - Rome or Verona, 1654)

Biography



The Capuchin monk Fra Semplice da Verona was trained as an artist in the studio of Felice Brusasorci in Verona, and in the early years of his career received important commissions for paintings from the courts of Mantua, Modena and Parma. Several of his later paintings were commissioned by the Capuchin order of which he was a member, and illustrated scenes and miracles from the life of Saint Felix of Cantalice, a Capuchin monk who was beatified in 1625. Within a few years of his death in the middle of the 17th century, however, Fra Semplice was largely forgotten, and it was not until the early 20th century that his oeuvre as a painter began to be rediscovered.

As a draughtsman, Fra Semplice’s work is characterized by a preference for the use of black, red and white chalks on blue paper, although a handful of pen drawings are also known. Only a relatively small corpus of drawings by the artist survives today, however, many of which have born attributions to such Bolognese artists as Giacomo Cavedone, Pietro Faccini and, in some cases, Annibale Carracci. Indeed, the influence of the Carracci and their followers and contemporaries in Bologna may be noted in both Fra Semplice’s paintings and drawings, perhaps the legacy of his time spent working in Parma.