Pietro Novelli Cain Killing Abel Second quarter of 17th century


Born 1603
Died 1647
Nationality Italian

Novelli was by a considerable margin the most important and gifted native Sicilian painter of the first half of the seventeenth century. He was also active later in his career as an architect and military engineer. He trained initially with his father Pietro Antonio, a painter and mosaicist, and then in Palermo under Vito Carrera. To judge by the evolving style of his paintings, Novelli must have visited Rome and Naples (at least once) during the 1620s, where he was particularly struck by the works of Caravaggio, Ribera and Stanzione. Anthony van Dyck, who worked in Palermo in 1624, was another key source of inspiration. Novelli is notable for his intelligent absorption of these various influences to form a distinctive, grand baroque manner. His main production was altarpieces and other religious works for churches and confraternities in and around Palermo and elsewhere in Sicily. In contrast to his paintings, Novelli’s drawing style was heavily influenced by his study of Northern mannerist prints.