This depiction of Saint Luke
is an exciting addition to the oeuvre
of Giovanni Battista Gaulli, known as Baciccio, one of the most esteemed artists of the Roman High Baroque. Born in Genoa in 1639, Baciccio moved at about the age of twenty to Rome, where he met the famed sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It was through Bernini that Baciccio was introduced to a number of Roman patrons, including the Pamphilij family, from whom he received the most important commission of his career, namely the decoration for the ceiling of the Church of il Gesù, which he completed over an eleven year period from 1672-1683. Soon after he received this monumental commission, Baciccio was appointed as Principe of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome. His energetic and exuberant style that defined his grand vaulted ceiling frescoes and altarpieces ranked among the most popular in the Eternal City and competed with the more restrained and classicizing art of Andrea Sacchi and Carlo Maratti.
Francesco Petrucci, who has confirmed the attribution on the basis of photographs and to whom we are grateful, dates the work to about 1680, when Baciccio was working on a series of Apostles for the Palazzo Reale in Genoa and St. Andrew
in the Chigi Palace of Ariccia.1
1. See F. Petrucci, Baciccio, Rome 2009, cat. no. D37.