MP I:385 draws attention to the contrast between Salvator Rosa 's 'feeling for truth' and his 'love of ghastliness', shown in extreme form in Witches at their Incantations (NG6491) in the National Gallery, London and his poem La Strega.
In Stones of Venice I (1851) ( Works, 9.31) Ruskin discusses the relationship between religious belief and 'artistic feeling' in the work of Titian and Giovanni Bellini. The death of 'vital religion' led to the formalism of 'pictorial rhetoric' as opposed to truth. In Stones of Venice II ( Works, 10.174) Rosa is a 'dissipated jester and satirist, a man who spent his life in masquing and revelry'.
Modern Painters V, published in 1860, focuses on the moral struggles of Salvator Rosa in comparison with Angelico, Dürer and Giorgione: 'In Salvator you have an awaked conscience, and some spiritual power, contending with evil, but conquered by it and brought into captivity to it.' ( Works, 7.373). Rosa represented the 'the last traces of spiritual life in the art of Europe' and 'he would have acknowledged religion had he seen any that was true'. ( Works, 7.308)