At the end of the Baroque era, eighteenth-century Neapolitan art produced a whole batch of interesting artists, of whom one stands out above the crowd: Gaspare Traversi. For a long time he has remained unknown, or at least very little known and then mainly for his religious paintings. (Although they were certainly better than average, especially the Parma altarpieces the Bourbons commissioned from him, they are not very original.)
Traversi has been rediscovered recently as one of the freest and most fearless eighteenth-century artists in Naples. His oeuvre has been pieced together by recent studies. What is remarkable about it is a large number of large genre scenes
showing people, places, and situations from real life. In Traversi s hands squires and villagers, street urchins and singers, supposed connoisseurs and idlers act out a pictorial version of Neapolitan comedy. It should be underlined, however, that Traversi s style was far from sloppy or popular. Quite the contrary, his art was extremely accomplished and broad-ranging. The aspects of caricature that it contained never degenerated into vulgarity or slovenliness.
Taken as a whole, Traversi s painting can be considered to be an interesting, markedly independent if minor contribution to European art during the eighteenth century. This is due to the almost Voltairian spirit of amusement, skepticism, and irony with which he viewed everyday life.
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