Diana de Rosa
Diana de Rosa was born in Naples in 1602 and during her lifetime she became well known in the Neapolitan artistic milieu. How she learned to paint is up to speculation, but some sources believe that Diana learned to draw from her uncle, Pacecco de Rosa, while others argue that Pacecco was Diana’s brother and they both learn to draw under the instruction of their stepfather, artist, Filippio Vitale. Regardless of the identity of her first teacher, eventually she joined the workshop of Cavalier Massimo Stanzione in Florence. In 1626, Diana married another artist who was studying in the same workshop, Agostino Beltrano.
According to her biographer, Bernardo de Dominici, Stanzione proactively promoted Diana’s career. After painting commissions for private households, she expressed the desire to paint for the public in order to make it known that women could attain excellence in art. Stanzione provided commissions at churches for her to complete in order for her to fulfill her wishes. According to Dominici the images were so beautiful that the public believed that her teacher had painted them rather than Diana.
The exact cause of Diana’s death in 1643 is not known. Dominici attributes her death to her husband murdering her for having an affair with her instructor. However, other scholars claim that Dominici was overdramatizing, and that Diana died of illness.
Unfortunately, many of her works have been destroyed through the centuries. Her remaining work can currently be seen in the Museo Diocesano, Naples and Museum of Santa Maria Donnaregina Nuova, Naples. It is also held in private collections around the world.