Italian Rococo Era Painter, ca.1702-1785
Painter and draughtsman. His father, Alessandro Falca, encouraged his natural talent for drawing, and he studied under Antonio Balestra for 'several years', according to his son, Alessandro Longhi. Balestra probably took Pietro to Bologna and recommended him to Giuseppe Maria Crespi. No documents exist on Longhi until 1732, the year he married, and some doubt has been expressed about his study with Crespi. There is no trace of Crespi's influence in Longhi's altarpiece for the parish church of S Pellegrino in Bologna, St Pellegrino Condemned to Death, installed in 1732; Crespi's style is an intimate one, however, and would have been inappropriate for such a large altarpiece. One of Longhi's first independent works, the St Pellegrino altarpiece recalls his Venetian origins and training in its broken brushwork and colour glazes. In another early work, the Adoration of the Magi (Venice, Scuola Grande S Giovanni Evangelista), documented in 1733 as at S Maria Materdomini, Venice, the subject-matter lends itself to a more domestic treatment, and Crespi's influence is evident. Both these works contain passages anticipating Longhi's subsequent development as a genre painter; in each picture a boy or young man, perhaps a self-portrait, gazes out at the spectator, unconcerned with events in the painting.
The Soothsayer f
Oil on canvas, 60 x 48 cm
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice