By Alexis Culotta

Today, 3 November, is the birthday of famed Baroque painter Annibale Carracci in 1560. Carracci became one of the most celebrated painters of the Baroque era. According to 17th-century writer Giovanni Pietro Bellori, Annibale had “the most richly endowed temperament from which he developed his blessed genius, coupling two things rarely granted to men: nature and art in consummate excellence.”

Born in Bologna, Annibale gleaned his earliest artistic training among members of his family. His brothers, fellow painters Agostino and Ludovico, shared with Annibale a fascination with both nature and color, the latter fostered by their study of Venetian masters such as Titian. For Annibale, this fascination evolved into an eclectic array of subject matter for his compositions. From genre scenes to mythological narratives, Annibale’s early compositions resonate within exploration of color, atmosphere, and emotion.

Elements of the classical world became infused in Annibale’s work following his arrival in Rome in the late 1590s, a relocation spurred by the Duke of Parma’s recommendation of Annibale for a series of ceiling frescoes in the Palazzo Farnese. This visual program, first revealed at the dawn of the 17th century, became a benchmark in fresco design and set Annibale on course for a prolific future as one of the leading painters of the Baroque age.

Further Reading: Bellori, Giovanni Pietro, The Lives of the Modern Painters, Sculptors and Architects, ed. by Hellmut Wohl (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

Self Portrait, 1590-1600. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

The Butcher’s Shop, 1580. Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford.

Assumption of the Virgin, c. 1590. Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Venus, Adonis and Cupid,c. 1590. Museo del Prado, Madrid.  

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