Francois de Nomé & Didier Barra.
For a long time the painter from Metz- Didier Barra (1590- Naples until 1644)- was known by the enigmatic sobriquet of “Monsù Desiderio” a “renowned painter of views” (de Domenici). Barra emerged into his own limelight with the discovery that he was responsible for collaborating with the altar painter Palumbo on a large painting showing St Gennaro and the Trinity hovering over Naples; he rendered the bird’s eye view, one of his specialities. To make matters more complex Barra was confused for a long time with the artists known as Francois de Nomé (1593- Naples until 1644) who was active in the city in the first half of the seicento. The two artists were merged into the personality of “Monsu Desiderio” though they couldn’t have been more different in their method and choice of subject. To take de Nomé first: this artist specialised in bizarre scenes of buildings collapsing, or on fire, environments usually peopled with gloomy martyrs and agitated saints (above). There is something “gothic” about Francois de Nomé’s art and there is nobody in the entire 17th century with such a flair for theatricality in art and such disregard as the rules of painting. In complete contrast Didier Barra – also from Metz- was characterised as “a careful view painter, who accurately recorded panoramic views of Naples.” In addition to painting topographical and lyrical views of the city, Barra also painted views of Vesuvius, a genre that would come to fruition in the next century. It is thought that Barra’s panoramas owe much to the Calabrian topographer Alessandro Baratta whose work Barra knew from engravings.
 Bio in Painting in Naples (London, 1982), 108-9. Christopher Wright, The French Painters of the Seventeenth-Century (Orbis, London, 1985), 175-6, though both artists listed as “Monsù Desiderio”. Olaf Koester and Humphrey Wine, Poussin and Claude and French Painting of the Seventeenth-Century (Copenhagen, 1992, no. 15 and bio.
 Bio in Painting in Naples, 108.
 Ibid, 109.