From the inventory of paintings in the Barberini collection of 1686 and from the little information we can gather from De Dominici and Titi, we owe little details on this Neapolitan painter. Possibly from Borgognone’s workshop in Rome, he inherited from Mattia Preti the study of the contrast between light and shade, and in the figures, there is an echo of Stanzione’s style. Typical of the artist’s work is the nervous, agile, and deliberately imprecise stroke with which he constructs soldiers and horses: the focus is entirely on the expressionistic rendering of the swirling battle, here immersed in an environment with tones strongly tinged in red and earthy tones. The tangle of horsemen shown here is inextricable, without beginning or end, immersed in a great cloud of dust; the artist’s brushstrokes almost want to “hide” the identity of the combatants from the observer. The creation of works of this kind has illustrious precedents in the works of Simonini and Courtois; Graziani integrates them with the brushstrokes perhaps inherited from Rosa and radically changes the objective of creating “Neapolitan-style” battles. The canvas becomes smaller, and the subject is no longer descriptive but decorative: by disengaging from the depiction, the painter was probably seeking greater market satisfaction.
Bibl.: U. Thieme – F. Becker, Künstlerlexikon, XIV, pp. 553 s.; G. Sestieri, I pittori di battaglie. Maestri italiani e stranieri del XVII e XVIII secolo, Roma 1999, pp. 15, 33 s., 94-97, 162, 274, 277, 360-371, 476, 662 s., 684 (con bibl.).