The painter Andrea Camassei was born in Bevagna in 1602 to Lorenzo and Angelina Angeli, weavers.
His talent, pride of the Umbrian land, soon exceeds its borders, to establish himself in Rome where he meets the favor of the most important pontifical families.
It also crosses the boundaries of time, if still today scholars and art lovers consider it “singular and interesting protagonist in the panorama of our Baroque”. (Links)
At the origin of everything, a double privilege: an innate talent for painting and a father that this talent can recognize and support, renouncing to involve his son in the weaving business, as he does with his brother Antonio.
Guessing in the first figures that the child enjoys drawing the genial inclination on the frontispieces of the books, “the wise and good father not only urged him, but he immediately took care to make him learn the first rudiments of art”.
He sent him to class by the painter known as “Fantino di Bevagna”, among the best representatives of Umbrian mannerism, and then in Rome by the famous Domenichino.
In his workshop Andrea embraces the artistic ideals of the master and develops an unconditional admiration for Raphael, of whom he reproduces with admirable skill many works for the training exercises: “no young man of that time designed Raphael’s things better”.
In addition to the fine sum of two thousand shields of emancipation, the young artist draws sustenance from the sale of canvases that his father sends him.
The first paintings in Rome brought him the favor of the Barberini family, the greatest patrons of Baroque papal Rome, in particular of Taddeo, nephew of Pope Urban VIII and is permanently housed in their sumptuous palace, at the Quattro Fontane, where he is magnificently welcomed and where he performs several of the most demanding works of his not long, but very fruitful career.
In this dwelling-symbol of Barber’s greatness, as well as working, it can create an artistic-cultural academy, very popular especially by young people.
The Roman artistic production is very intense and the prestige it obtains is high.
Many Roman families aspire to decorate their galleries with his paintings: the Altieri, the Farnese, the Colonna, the Rospigliosi, the Rondanini; Olimpia Pamphili is his last powerful protector.
However, he maintains assiduous relations with his region of origin and with Bevagna, which he reaches every year to spend the summer season and part of the autumn, also receiving many orders.
Thanks to its introduction in ecclesiastical circles and in the offices of the capital, it obtained many favors for its municipality, such as the ban on raising goats in the Bevanate area. Out of gratitude, he is exempted from paying certain taxes and, by estimate, he is twice elected consul.
In this coexistence of the two homelands, above all, the main feature of his pictorial style is placed, which blends in a greater complexity and originality, the most innovative accents of the Center with the artistic specificities of the Suburbs.
His youthful masterpiece “Saints Bonaventura, Bernardino da Siena and Ludovico di Tolosa” for the church of S. Caterina di Valcelli in Spello and now at the municipal art gallery, “classicism and nature” meet in a perfect measure.
The Umbrian production is also vast, it performs paintings in Assisi, Foligno, Perugia, but above all in Bevagna: among the latter we indicate, for everyone, the frescoes in the chapel of the Madonna del Carmine in the church of S. Michele Arcangelo. Various works can be admired in the other churches and in the municipal art gallery.
Evidence of his art can be found in Florence Macerata, Venice, but also abroad in museums or in private collections: Paris, Switzerland, Vienna, Pennsylvania, Madrid at the Museo Nacional del Prado.
The well-deserved fortune gives Camassei big profits, which he invests in real estate in his native Bevagna, together with his wife Giovanna. In 1640 the son Giovanni was born, to continue the descent.
The artist died in 1649 at the age of forty-seven.