First a pupil of Domenichino and then of Pietro da Cortona, the Viterbese Francesco Romanelli was in Rome – according to the sources – from 1617 onwards. However, from 1631, his connection with Pope Urban VIII’s family, the powerful Barberini, Cortona’s great patrons, is recorded. Romanelli’s fortune is closely linked to his affectionate and prestigious patron, Cardinal Francesco Barberini. But the most important proof of his success among his contemporaries is his two stays in France (1646-47 and 1655-57) and the numerous commissions linked to them, such as those requested by Cardinal Mazarin and Queen Mother Anne of Austria. Romanelli’s style never underwent any significant changes during his career: linked to both sacred and mythological themes, this canvas depicts an Allegory of Winter, probably from the middle of the XVII century. An old man – representing the “winter of life,” the final phase of man’s existence – with his head covered by a dark cloak, warms his hands in the warmth of a brazier. The brushwork is firm, attentive to the details of the face and hands, and the drapery is rendered with the refined softness typical of the artist.
Bibl.: U.V. Fischer Pace, R. Giovanni Francesco, in La pittura in Italia. Il Seicento, a cura di M. Gregori – E. Schleier, II, Milano 1989, pp. 866 s.