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Sebastiano Conca was born in central Italy, in the city of Gaeta, previously part of the Kingdom of Naples, in January 1680. He became a prominent artist of the late-Baroque period, and mostly known for his dramatic scenes of religious narratives like seen in the masterpiece Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Conca began studying under the Baroque master Francesco Solimena, who also taught Corrado Giaquinto, a Rococo painter, and was patronized by Pope Benedict XIII. With the help of Giovanni, his brother, who worked as the artist’s assistant, the siblings moved to Rome. During this period, Conca focused on improving his drawing skills so that he could apply this knowledge to his paintings. Giovanni Conca was also a painter.
In Rome, the artist’s popularity grew, and Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni became his patron. Conca began concluding many religious works in churches. He was commissioned by Pope Clement XI to paint the Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior and Saints John the Baptist, as well as the Santi Luca e Martina church in Rome. Because of his formidable work for the church, Conca was knighted by the Pope.
In 1718, Conca entered the Accademia di San Luca and eleven years later became the director of the institution, where he continued for two years. The artist’s main influence was Luca Giordano, also a painter from the late-Baroque period, who passed away in 1705 at the age of 70. During Conca’s time as a professor at the Academy, he gave classes to notable painters like Agostino Masucci, Gaetano Lapis, Corrado Giaquinto, and Andrea Casali.
Conca worked alongside Italian painter Carlo Maratta around the year 1727, to complete a fresco on the ceiling of the main entrance of the Santa Cecilia church named Coronation of Santa Cecilia. During this period, the Savoy family became his patrons as well, and the artist began working in Turin. He traveled to Venaria Reale, a comune in Turin, where he painted the Basilica of Superga. Among his notable works are his frescoes in Siena, in what was a hospital at the time, Ospedale di Santa Maria Della Scala, now a museum.
In 1739, Sebastiano Conca published a guide entitled Admonishments, with the intent of helping other artists with tips on technique and advice on moral issues. Charles III, King of Spain, became his patron in 1752 when the artist moved to Naples. During this time, Conca was producing many great artworks. He worked on the Church of Santa Chiara with frescoes and concluded a series of canvas paintings for the Caserta Palace Chapel, to name a few.
Not only did the Italian painter enjoy portraying religious subjects, but he also worked themes and characters of Classic mythology. The masterpiece The Vision of Aeneas in the Elysian Fields is a beautiful example os Conca’s view on mythological subjects.
Sebastiano Conca passed away on September 1st, 1765.