Agostino Tassi

Agostino Tassi


Ponzano Romano, 1580 – Rome, 1644

Seascape with moored boats

oil on canvas, cm 140×199,5

This large painting is a wonderful sea view of boats at sunset, which have come in and moored in a small inlet. In the background we see the open sea, while a promontory with a castle on the left provides a sense of perspective.

The contrasting light makes the boats and characters that populate the foreshore legible and deliberately leaves the immediate foreground darker for a very theatrical effect. The quality of the description of the ships, with the ropes pulled taut over the masts, the folded sails and the diagonal booms that in some cases seem to reflect the light, brings to mind similar work by Agostino Tassi, one of the most important marine painters in Rome in the late-16th century.

Tassi is primarily linked to the Flemish landscapes of Paul and Mathijs Bril, both active in the capital, as testified by the light in the background that freezes the vision in the distance. Known also for his dissolute life and the famous trial in which he was accused of rape by Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi, Agostino should actually be counted among the most interesting genre painters of his generation, pre-empting similar paintings by Salvator Rosa and even more so the “Bamboccianti” culture in Rome.