c. 1616 – Naples – c. 1657

The Rest on the Flight into Egypt

Oil on copper
22 x 31 cm

Signed with monogram: ADB


N.Spinosa, Pittura del Seicento a Napoli. Da Caravaggio a Massimo Stanzione, Naples 2010;

To be included in Prof. Nicola Spinosa’s forthcoming monograph on the artist

This painting shows De Bellis could rival any of his colleagues on a small scale as well as the larger canvases he is usually associated with; he had major commissions from a wide variety of public sources, but also did cabinet pieces for collectors. The Finding of Moses in the National Gallery, London, a painting of gallery proportions, has now been returned to his authorship, and we get an impression of a painter with a great deal of scope. This copper, which is painted with great delicacy and refinement, shows a balance of colours and conservation that colleagues like Stanzione and Cavallino rarely achieve. The brilliant use of lapis blue makes this a precious image, and studied effects like the rays of the setting sun against the clouds, the range of colours of the drapery, and the imagination of the sleeping Joseph and the God the Father appearing with the celestial sphere at his side, are brilliant pieces of virtuosity.

Only a few works are known that are signed: Prof Spinosa notes that another is a Lot and his Daughters in a private collection, Rome.




c. 1616 – Naples – c. 1657

The Liberation of St. Peter

Oil on Canvas,
178.5 by 260.5 cms; 70 ¼ by 102 ½ ins.

From a private collection, Scandinavia.

N. Spinosa, Ancora sul Maestro dell’Annuncio ai pastori, Bartolomeo Bassante e
Antonio de Bellis in ‘Studi di storia dell’arte in onore di Denis Mahon’, [Milan 2000]

On loan to the Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin 2005-2007

This recently discovered masterpiece is a revelation, showing Antonio de Bellis as a major figure in Neapolitan painting at its most interesting period. This work, which has been published by Prof. Nicola Spinosa, probably dates from the early1640s, and is therefore to be seen in the context of the great series that Stanzione did to illustrate first the Life of San Bruno in the chapel dedicated to him in the Certosa di San Martino, Naples, and the other one illustrating the Life of Saint John the Baptist painted by Massimo Stanzione for the King of Spain’s Buen Retiro Palace in Madrid. Both these were painted in the 1630s, and De Bellis, who was probably born between 1621 and 1623, was evidently influenced by Stanzione, but also by his great rival, Ribera, and by the refined brushwork of Bernardo Cavallino and Francesco Guarino.

Professor Spinosa compares this work with the Apollo and Marsyas in a private collection in Naples  (see his Pittura napoletana del Seicento, 1984, Pl. 208). The Caravaggesque subject is here illuminated by ringing colours and delicate detail that make De Bellis’s invention of unique force.