17th-Century Neapolitan School, San Gennaro


United Kingdom

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17th-Century Neapolitan School, San Gennaro

A 17th-century Neapolitan School depiction of the Assumption Of San Gennaro. This energetic and evocative painting was almost certainly designed for public worship.

The central figure, San Gennaro (or Saint Januarius), is the patron saint of Naples and his bones are preserved at Naples Cathedral. He’s believed to have been martyred during the Christian persecution under Emperor Diocletian and this forms an aspect of the painting.

Note how the artist has shown contrast between the violence below and the celestial heavens above. San Gennaro is emerging from the ravages of persecution - inches away from the world that awaits him. Fellow Christians are slaughtered as a myriad of icons draw him closer.

There’s an abundance of iconography in this piece and it’s typical of Neapolitan painters from the period. At the time, Naples was recovering from the devastation of the Plague and many works feature violence, loss and anguish. But the message here is one of hope - that despite the brutality on Earth, each of us has a chance for salvation.

The composition is close to several works by the Neapolitan painter, Paolo de Matteis (1662-1728) so it's plausible that the artist worked within his circle.

The painting is housed within a fine 18th-century carved and gilded frame.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 30½” x 42½” / 78cm x 108cm
Year of creation: c. 1690
Provenance: Rome, Italy
Condition: Various restorations over the years as you would expect. Canvas relined. Craquelure throughout and several minor paint losses but the paint layer is broadly stable. Old wormholes in the stretcher. The pigments retain a good level of vibrancy. Frame with age-related wear and losses.


  • H: 108cm (42.52in)
  • W: 78cm (30.71in)
  • D: 5cm (1.97in)


c. 1690

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Brave Fine Art is a boutique art dealership based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Established in 2017, our clients include private collectors and interiors designers throughout the UK, USA and Canada. We tend to focus on decorative art that captures the imagination - from monumental 17th-century portraits through to characterful vintage landscapes. Every piece in the collection has an interesting story to tell and we work hard to discover the hidden history behind each one.

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