- Carracci, Annibale
- (1560-1609)Annibale Carracci, his brother Agostino, and cousin Ludovico were responsible for effecting the Carracci Reform. Of the three, Annibale was the one to achieve the greatest recognition for having brought art back to the classicism of the Renaissance masters, particularly Raphael. Early on in his career, Annibale painted genre scenes that depicted common figures in all their dignity, among them the Boy Drinking (c. 1582-1583; Cleveland Museum of Art), the Bean Eater (1583-1584; Rome, Galleria Colonna), and the Butcher Shop (c. 1582; Oxford, Christ Church Picture Gallery), this last thought to visually expound the Carracci's art philosophy. In c. 1583, Annibale received his first public commission, the Crucifixion for the Church of Santa Maria della Carità, Bologna, a clear, sober rendition that conforms to the demands of the Counter-Reformation and Archbishop Gabriele Paleotti regarding the proper representation of sacred subjects. His San Ludovico Altarpiece (c. 1589; Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale) he painted for the Church of Santi Ludovico e Alessio and demonstrates the influence of Correggio in the softness of the contours and the swaying pose of St. John the Baptist. In these years, Annibale also executed some mythologies, including the Venus, Satyr, and Two Cupids (c. 1588; Florence, Uffizi) and Venus Adorned by the Graces (1594-1595; Washington, National Gallery). These works show his interest in Venetian art as they both feature voluptuous female nudes rendered in lush colors and bathed by light in the manner of Titian.In 1595, Cardinal Odoardo Farnese summoned Annibale to Rome to decorate his recently built palazzo. In c. 1596, Annibale painted the Hercules at the Crossroads (Naples, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte) to be mounted on the ceiling of the cardinal's study. Then, between c. 1597 and 1600 he frescoed the gallery with scenes depicting the loves of the gods utilizing a quadro riportato technique. Centered on the Farnese ceiling is the Triumph of Bacchus, a scene that would later influence Guido Reni's Aurora (1613) in the Casino Rospigliosi, Rome, and Guercino's ceiling fresco of the same title (1621) in the Casino Ludovisi. In these years, Annibale carried out other commissions for the Farnese, including the Christ in Glory (c. 1597; Florence, Palazzo Pitti) and the Pietà (1599-1600; Naples, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte). Annibale's Roman works reflect his study of Raphael's paintings in the Stanza della Segnatura (1510-1511) and Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling (1508-1512), both at the Vatican. Their clarity, emphasis on soft pastel tones, and rational compositions clearly derive from the works of these Renaissance masters. The semicircular arrangement of the Christ in Glory stems directly from Raphael's Dispute in the Stanza.Annibale was also an accomplished landscapist. In fact, he is one of the artists to bring landscape painting to the realm of high art. In 1603, the artist was occupied with painting landscape lunettes for Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini in his palace chapel. Of these, the most notable is the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, a classicized landscape composed of alternating areas of land and water balanced by the verticality of the trees. By this time, Annibale had become seriously ill and affected with bouts of depression. He died in 1609 and was buried in the Pantheon in Rome alongside Raphael, a fitting tribute for the man who had been hailed as the one to restore painting from the excesses of Mannerism and to have brought it back to its former Renaissance glory.
Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. Lilian H. Zirpolo. 2008.