Giovanni Francesco GRIMALDI

Bologna 1606 - Rome 1680


Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi, known as ‘Il Bolognese’, received his artistic training in his native city of Bologna, where he adopted the local interest in landscape draughtsmanship fostered by the Carracci. By 1627 he was working in Rome, where he was admitted into the Accademia di San Luca, eventually rising to become principe of the institution in 1666. In 1646 he collaborated with Alessandro Algardi on the decoration of the Villa Doria-Pamphili, outside Rome, for Cardinal Camillo Pamphili. Grimaldi enjoyed a highly successful career as a painter of fresco decorations, working at the Palazzo Nuñez, the Vatican and the Palazzo Quirinale in Rome, as well as the Villa Falconieri at Frascati. His reputation as a frescante spread as far as Paris, where in 1648 he was summoned by Cardinal Mazarin to work with Giovanni Francesco Romanelli on the fresco decoration of the Galerie Mazarin. He served as painter to the Duc d’Orléans and also decorated the apartments of Anne of Austria in the Louvre, before returning to Italy in 1651. For much of the 1670s he worked at the Palazzo Borghese in Rome, supervising the interior decoration of the building. A versatile artist, Grimaldi also worked as a printmaker, architect, scenographer and designer of book illustrations.

Grimaldi was a prolific draughtsman, and is best known for his pure landscape studies in pen and ink. (A number of such drawings that incorporate figures by Algardi are known.) While some of these were used to prepare the decorative landscape murals that the artist painted for many Roman palaces, others may well have been intended for sale as works of art in their own right. An album of some 130 landscape drawings and decorative designs by Grimaldi, assembled in Rome by the Spanish painter Vincenzo Vittoria before 1701, is in the British Museum. Another, smaller group of drawings with the same provenance is in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. Grimaldi also produced more than fifty landscape etchings, which, like his drawings, reveal something of the influence of the Carraccesque tradition in which he was trained and, by extension, the work of Domenichino in Rome.