The eighteenth-century biographer Bernardo De Dominici, our primary source for information regarding the career of Massimo Stanzione, states that the artist was born in Orto di Atella in 1585. He spent most of his active career in Naples, where it is reported he trained with Fabrizio Santafede and Giovanni Battista Caracciolo, called Battistello. Other early influences certainly include the Spanish artist Jusepe de Ribera, also residing in Naples. Contemporary documents place Stanzione in Rome from 1617 to 1618 and again around 1625. Initially Stanzione worked in a Caravaggesque mode well suited to the portraits and secular subject matter which dominate this early phase of his career. However, after 1617 a developing classicism is discernible in his paintings. The idealized forms and more decorative palette reflect the work of several Bolognese artists which Stanzione could have seen in Rome, principally that of Annibale Carracci, Domenichino, and Guido Reni. From this time onward religious subjects took up an ever greater portion of Stanzione's work, and he carried out numerous official commissions for the churches of Naples. His classicizing tendency was further strengthened around 1630 by contact with the paintings of Artemisia Gentileschi. The existence of a dated painting from 1658 puts into question De Dominici's assertion that Stanzione died in the plague of 1656. However, after 1655 no further mention of Stanzione is found in contemporary documents. Stanzione's principal student was Cavallino.