Search the Collections

Orazio Borgianni
Nationality: 
italian
Gender: 
Male
Birth Date: 
1574
Birth Place: 
Rome
Death Date: 
1616
Death Place: 
Rome
An Italian painter and etcher, Orzaio Borgianni is best known for his paintings reflecting the influence of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610). According to the most recent scholarship, he was born on April 16, 1574 in Rome, the son of a carpenter from Florence. He received his artistic training from his stepbrother, Guilio Lasso, a sculptor and architect. Borgianni accompanied Lasso on a trip to Sicily sometime around 1591; a painting by him dated to 1593 remains on that island. He went to Spain in 1598, apparently lured by the prospect of royal patronage, and stayed there until 1603, when he signed a petition supporting the creating of a painting academy in Madrid. He injoyed great artistic success; several paintings by him from this period remain in Spain. Scholars believe Borgianni returned to Rome in 1603, based on a portrait by him dated to that year. A document survives that he signed in Rome on February 18, 1604. Later that year he traveled again to Spain; on January 9, 1605 he signed an inventory of an estate’s paintings in Madrid. By 1607 he was back in Rome, where he was recorded at the Academia di San Luca. He spent the rest of his life in Rome. In 1610 he was elected to the Accademia dei Virtosi of the Pantheon. Most of his works are on religious themes, no doubt reflecting the commissions he received. He continued to enjoy the patronage of Spanish aristocrats after returning to Rome, as well as that of the Spanish ambassador to the Vatican. 52 paintings are attributed to Borgianni in the latest catalog raisonné, most dated after 1604. The realism and chiaroscuro lighting of Caravaggio are reflected in Borgianni’s later paintings. In 1615 he created a set of 52 etchings (TIB 1-52) after the Biblical scenes painted by Raphael’s (1483-1520) workshop in the Vatican’s Loggia. Borgianni created at least two other etchings, one of St. Christopher (TIB 53) and a Lamentation (TIB 2 [321]) depicting the dead Christ and the Virgin Mary, John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene as mourners. Borgianni was buried in Rome on January 15, 1616, presumably having died a few days earlier. (TNB 4/2103) Selected bibliography: Pérez Sánchez. Alfonso E. “Orazio Borgianni,” in The Age of Caravaggio. Exhibition catalog, pp. 102-105. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1985. Reed, Sue Welsh and Richard Wallace.Itallian Etchers of the Renaissance & Baroque. Exhibition catalog, pp. 152-155. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1989. Wethey, Harold E. "Orazio Borgianni in Italy and in Spain" The Burlington Magazine 106 No. 733 (April 1964:146-159).