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Francesco Solimena was born in Canale di Serino. In a long and extremely productive career he painted frescoes in many of the great churches in Naples,including the vast Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple (1725, Gesù Nuovo) and he became one of the wealthiest and most famous European artists of his day. His vigorous style, often marked by dramatic lighting, owed much to the example of such Baroque artists as Giordano (his outstanding predecessor in Naples), Lanfranco, and Preti, but it also has a firmness of structure and a clarity of draughtsmanship that show his allegiance to the classical tradition of Raphael and Annibale Carracci. Although chiefly a religious painter, he was also a good portraitist (a proud self-portrait is in the Uffizi, Florence). He never travelled further than Rome, but his paintings were in demand all over Europe and he became one of the wealthiest and most famous artists of the time. His international influence was spread also by his celebrity as a teacher. Ramsay was among his pupils and Fragonard copied his work when he visited Naples in 1761.
He died at Barra, near Naples, in 1747.
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