By Jennifer D. Webb

Domenico Zampieri, known as Domenichino from 1614, was born in Bologna on October 21, 1581. Trained first at the Accademia degli Incamminati with the Carracci, by 1602 he was in Rome where he focused on mastering Annibale Carracci’s Roman style. Domenichino painted alongside Annibale in both the Palazzetto Farnese and the Palazzo Farnese.

Domenichino received his first commissions in 1612: the frescoes of the life of Saint Cecilia for the Polet Chapel in San Luigi dei Francesci and his famous, Last Communion of Saint Jerome, for San Girolamo della Carità. The latter painting was taken to France at the direction of Napoleon’s art commissioner, who, based on the recommendations of Poussin, ranked Domenichino’s piece second only to Raphael’s Transfiguration. Domenichino’s Last Communion of Saint Jerome typifies the painter’s practice of imitation; in her book on the so-called “Domenichino Affair,” Elizabeth Cropper notes that exploration of the criticism of Domenichino’s practices helps to shed light upon the changing attitudes towards the practice of imitation in the Early Modern period.

From 1617 to 1621, Domenichino lived and worked in Bologna and Fano but then returned to Rome where he was named Papal Architect by the newly elected Gregory XV. In this decade he completed the decoration of the apse and pendentives of Sant’Andrea della Valle.

Domenichino’s life and career ended in Naples where he faced the jealousy of other painters and demanding patrons. He died on April 6, 1641 working on the fifth of six altarpieces on copper.

References: Cropper, Elizabeth. “Domenichino [Zampieri, Domenico].” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.;  Cropper, Elizabeth. The Domenichino Affair: novelty, imitation, and theft in seventeenth-century Rome. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005.

With Annibale Carracci, A Virgin with a Unicorn, c.1604-05, Palazzo Farnese, Rome. Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

Communion of Saint Jerome, 1614, Vatican Museums. Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

Apparition of the Virgin and Child and San Gennaro at the Miraculous Oil Lamp, 1637-38, Cathedral, Naples. Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

Further reading: Hermann Voss and Thomas Pelzel. Baroque Painting in Rome I: Domenichino and their Followers, 1585-1640. San Francisco: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1997; Charles Dempsey. Annibale Carracci: The Farnese Palace, Rome. New York: G. Braziller, 1995.

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