Carracci

Carracci (kärätˈchē) [key], family of Italian painters of the Bolognese school, founders of an important academy of painting. Lodovico Carracci, 1555–1619, a pupil of Tintoretto in Venice, was influenced by Correggio and Titian. He also studied in Bologna, Padua, and Parma. With his cousins, Agostino and Annibale, and with Anthony de la Tour, he established in Bologna an academy of painting that sought to unite in one system the preeminent characteristics of each of the great masters. The school rapidly became one of the outstanding schools in Italy, and Lodovico remained its head until his death. Its noted pupils include Guido Reni, Francesco Albani, and Domenichino. Excelling as a teacher, Lodovico was also a painter of talent and energy. Excellent examples of his art abound in the churches of Bologna and elsewhere in Italy. Among the best are Sermon of John the Baptist (Pinacoteca, Bologna) and Vision of St. Hyacinth (Louvre). His cousin Agostino Carracci, 1557–1602, left the goldsmith's trade and studied painting with Prospero Fontana. He excelled in engraving and devoted most of his time to it until he joined his cousin and his brother in the founding of their academy and in the execution of numerous joint painting commissions. In 1597 he went to Rome and collaborated with Annibale in the decorating of the Farnese Palace gallery; he executed the admirable frescoes Triumph of Galatea and Rape of Cephalus (cartoons in the National Gall., London). He died in Parma just after completing his great work, Celestial, Terrestrial, and Venal Love, in the Casino. Other notable examples of his art are The Last Communion of St. Jerome (Pinacoteca, Bologna), Adulteress before Christ, and the masterly engraving of Tintoretto's Crucifixion. His brother Annibale Carracci, 1560–1609, a pupil of Lodovico Carracci, was a painter of unusual skill and versatility. He spent seven years studying the works of the masters, particularly those of Correggio and Parmigianino, in Venice and Parma. Returning to Bologna, he aided in the conducting of the academy school until 1595, when he went to Rome to assist in the Farnese gallery. The ceiling, for which he made thousands of preliminary drawings according to an elaborate structural system, was rich in illusionistic elements. It included feigned architectural and sculptural forms, which had great impact on later painters. Well known among his numerous works are Christ and the Woman of Samaria (Brera, Milan); Flight into Egypt (Doria Gall., Rome); The Dead Christ (Louvre); and The Temptation of St. Anthony (National Gall., London).

See study by D. Posner (2 vol. 1971); National Gallery of Art, The Age of Correggio and the Carracci (1987).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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