Giovanni Battista DELLA ROVERE

Milan c.1561 - Milan c.1630


Giovanni Battista della Rovere was, like his younger brother Giovanni Mauro (c.1575-1640), known as ‘il Fiammenghino’ (‘the little Fleming’) due to the fact that their father was born in Antwerp. Giovanni Battista worked in numerous churches and monasteries throughout Milan, Lombardy and Northern Italy, very often alongside his brother. Among his earliest independent works are a cycle of scenes from the life of Saint John the Baptist in the Duomo in Monza, completed in 1586. Between 1602 and 1604 Giovanni Battista and Giovanni Mauro collaborated on a fresco cycle of scenes from the life of Saint Carlo Borromeo for the Duomo in Milan, followed by further joint work in the Milanese church of San Maria presso San Celso, at the Sacro Monte at Orta and the Abbey of Chiaravalle. As Nancy Ward Neilson has written of the Della Rovere brothers, ‘Gian Mauro and his elder brother Giovanni Battista were enormously productive throughout Lombardy for a period of approximately fifty years. Active as decorators, they executed large narrative commissions which, judging from their number, must have been done very rapidly. None of this material has been systematically gathered so that their chronology is not easy to establish.’ Such was the closeness of their association as artists that it is often difficult to differentiate between the work of the two brothers, both as painters and as draughtsmen. Giovanni Battista worked at San Calimero and Santa Maria della Passione in Milan, while later ecclesiastical commissions in Montemezzo, Como, Novara, Peglio and elsewhere in Lombardy resulted in a flourishing career. Among his last significant works were paintings in the church of Santa Maria della Grazia in Pavia, begun in 1629 and completed, after his death, by Giovanni Mauro in 1635.