Ludovico Carracci (Bologna 1555-1619)
Carracci. Family of Bolognese painters, the brothers Agostino (1557-1602) and Annibale (1560-1609) and their cousin Ludovico (1555-1619), who were prominent figures at the end of the 16th century in the movement against the prevailing Mannerist artificiality of Italian painting. They worked together early in their careers, and it is not easy to distinguish their shares in, for example, the cycle of frescos in the Palazzo Fava in Bologna (c.1583-84). In the early 1580s they opened a private teaching academy, which soon became a center for progressive art. It was originally called the Accademia dei Desiderosi (`Desiderosi' meaning `desirous of fame and learning'), but later changed its name to Academia degli Incamminati (Academy of the Progressives). In their teaching they laid special emphasis on drawing from the life (all three were outstanding graphic artists) and clear draughtsmanship became a quality particularly associated with artists of the Bolognese School, notably Domenichino and Reni, two of the leading members of the following generation who trained with the Carracci. They continued working in close relationship until 1595, when Annibale, who was by far the greatest artist of the family, was called to Rome by Cardinal Odoardo Farnese to carry out his masterpiece, the decoration of the Farnese Gallery in the cardinal's family palace. He first decorated a small room called the Camerino with stories of Hercules, and in 1597 undertook the ceiling of the larger gallery, where the theme was The Loves of the Gods, or, as Bellori described it, `human love governed by Celestial love'. Although the ceiling is rich in the interplay of various illusionistic elements, it retains fundamentally the self-contained and unambiguous character of High Renaissance decoration, drawing inspiration from Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling and Raphael's frescos in the Vatican Loggie and the Farnesina. The full untrammelled stream of Baroque illusionism was still to come in the work of Cortona and Lanfranco, but Annibale's decoration was one of the foundations of their style. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries the Farnese Ceiling was ranked alongside the Sistine Ceiling and Raphael's frescos in the Vatican Stanze as one of the supreme masterpieces of painting. It was enormously influential, not only as a pattern book of heroic figure design, but also as a model of technical procedure; Annibale made hundreds of drawings for the ceiling, and until the age of Romanticism such elaborate preparatory work became accepted as a fundamental part of composing any ambitious history painting. In this sense, Annibale exercised a more profound influence than his great contemporary Caravaggio, for the latter never worked in fresco, which was still regarded as the greatest test of a painter's ability and the most suitable vehicle for painting in the Grand Manner. Annibale's other works in Rome also had great significance in the history of painting. Pictures such as Domine, Quo Vadis? (National Gallery, London, c.1602) reveal a striking economy in figure composition and a force and precision of gesture that had a profound influence on Poussin and through him on the whole language of gesture in painting. He developed landscape painting along similar lines, and is regarded as the father of ideal landscape, in which he was followed by Domenichino (his favorite pupil), Claude, and Poussin. The Flight into Egypt (Doria Gallery, Rome, c.1604) is Annibale's masterpiece in this genre. In his last years Annibale was overcome by melancholia and gave up painting almost entirely after 1606. When he died he was buried accordingly to his wished near Raphael in the Pantheon. It is a measure of his achievement that artists as great and diverse as Bernini, Poussin and Rubens found so much to admire and praise in his work. Annibale's art also had a less formal side that comes out in his caricatures (he is generally credited with inventing the form) and in his early genre paintings, which are remarkable for their lively observation and free handling (The Butcher's Shop, Christ Church, Oxford). Agostino assisted Annibale in the Farnese Gallery from 1597 to 1600, but he was important mainly as a teacher and engraver. His systematic anatomical studies were engraved after his death and were used for nearly two centuries as teaching aids. He spent the last two years in Parma, where he did his own `Farnese Ceiling', decorating a ceiling in the Palazzo del Giardino with mythological scenes for Duke Ranuccio Farnese. It shows a meticulous but somewhat spiritless version of his brother's lively Classicism. Ludovico left Bologna only for brief periods and directed the Carracci academy by himself after his cousins had gone to Rome. His work is unever and highly personal. Painterly and expressive considerations always outweigh those of stability and calm Classicism in his work, and at its best there is a passionate and poetic quality indicative of his preference for Tintoretto and Jacopo Bassano. His most fruitful period was 1585-95, but near the end of his career he still produced remarkable paintings of an almost Expressionist force, such as the Christ Crucified above Figures in Limbo (Sta Francesco Romana, Ferrara, 1614). The Caracci fell from grace in the 19th century along with all the other Bolognese painters, who were one of Ruskin's pet hates and whom he considered (1847) had `no single virtue, no color, no drawing, no character, no history, no thought'. They were saddled with the label `eclectic' and thought to be ponderous and lacking in originality. Their full rehabilitation had to wait until the second half of the 20th century (the great Carracci exhibition held in Bologna in 1956 was a notable event), but Annibale has now regained his place as one of the giants of Italian painting. Agostino's illegitimate son Antonio (1589?-1618) was the only offspring of the three Carracci. He had a considerable reputation as an artist in his day, but after his early death was virtually forgotten, and it is only recently that his work has been reconsidered.
Annibale Carracci (Bologna 1560-Roma 1609)
His family came from Cremona. He was born on 3rd November 1560 from a well known tailor. He started his career as an engraver like his brother Agostino, then he learnt to paint with the mannerist Prospero Fontana. After a period of apprenticeship, he started going round the north of Italy to enlarge his knowledge, he learnt new 10th century pictorial tecniques, especially in Venice. He experimented all kinds of paintings: the portrait, the general painting ( La Bottega del Macellaio 1583-84 Rome, Galleria Colonna) and the landscape, the mural painting, helping his cousin Ludovico and his brother Agostino to paint the cycle of frescoes with Storie di Giasone in Palazzo Fava, where he painted the Histories of Europe by himself. In the first 1580s he created, together with Ludovico and Annibale, the Accademia degli Incamminati: the Histories of Romolo and Remo frescoed in a room of Palazzo Magnani between 1590 and 1592 represent the artistic manifesto of the Carraccis, aimed to renew, in order to react against the Mannerism, the painting on the base of the tradition of the great masters of 1500, Correggio, Tiziano, Paolo Veronese. In the years when he was in bologna, he painted a lot of works of different kind, but the one in which he exelled was thepainting of landscapes which he renewed giving them a romantic interpretation. In 1595 he was called to Rome. His first work was the decoration of a dressing room in Palazzo Farnese with Hercoles and Ulisses stories. After two years he was commissioned by Cardinal Edoardo Farnese to decorate the Gallery in Palazzo Farnese, planned in 1530 by Paolo III Farnese with drawings by Sangallo and ended by Vignola and by Giacomo della Porta. On the vault Annibale frescoed I Piaceri e le Guerre d'Amore tra gli Dei e gli Uomini. In the middle, il Trionfo di Bacco e Arianna, Aurora and Cefalo, Aci and Galatea; all around Giove and Giunone, Venere and Anchise, Diana and Endimione, Ercole and Onfale; then Polifemo and Galatea, lo Sdegno di Polifemo, Pan and Diana, Mercurio and Paride. In his work, which can be considered his masterpiece and with which he started a new mode to conceive decorative painting , which will be typical of the Baroque vision, Annibale was helped first by his brother Agostino, then by his disciples:Domenichino, Albani, Lanfranco. Always in this period he accepted commissions for altar-pieces, profane pictures, landscapes. Between 1603 and 1604 he was commissioned by Cardinal Piero Aldobrandini to decorate a chapel with lunettes depicting stories of the on a landscape background: the ones he painted inaugurated the kind of seventeenth century landscape painting taken as a model by artists like Domenichino and Claude Lorraine. In 1605 he fell ill and was compelled to stop, helping anyway his disciples until his death in 1609.A century and a half later Winkelmann and the neoclassic archeologists called into question his ability accusing him to be an imitator, an eclectic, but the recent critics, starting with Roberto Longhi, have revalued him.
If you are interested in works by Annibale you can consult this site: http://risc350.selfin.it/musei/capodim/ita/
Agostino Carracci (Bologna 1557- Parma 1602)
Annibale's brother and Ludovico's cousin, he was a cultured man, great engraver, but never really innovative in his works. Starting from 1582 he made a lot of study journays (Venice and Parma). His first works were engravings drew from paintings by famous artists (Tintoretto, Veronese, Correggio). Then he helped his brother and his cousin to decorate Palazo Fava and Palazzo Magnani (1584-1592) in Bologna, but he painted by himself works such as the great altar piece with Assunta, the Comunione di San Gerolamo (Bologna-Pinacoteca Nazionale) and the piccola pala con Madonnna con Bambino e Santi (Parma-Galleria Nazionale)(Bologna-Pinacoteca Nazionale). Then he joined his brother in Rome and cooperated to the decoration of the Galleria di Palazzo Farnese. Finally he went to Parma to work for Ranuccio Farnese, where he frescoed a vault in Palazzo del Giardino ( unfinished because of his death ).
Paesaggio di Agostino Carracci
Galleria Palatina Firenze