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    • Domenichino (1581-1641)


        Painter

        Domenichino, one of the chief pupils of the Carracci, was an assistant to Ludovico in Bologna before he joined Annibale in Rome in 1602 to work in the Farnese Palace. He exemplified the Carracci doctrine of a return to the tradition of the Antique and Raphael, and was also, with Annibale Carracci and the Northerners Elsheimer and the Brills, one of the pioneers of landscape painting.

        In 1621 he returned to Rome from Bologna, where he had been since 1619, to work as Papal architect for the newly-elected Gregory XV, but his main work of this period was the decoration of the choir and pendentives of Sant' Andrea della Valle (1624-8), the dome being by Lanfranco. The bitter enmity between them was exacerbated by Domenichino's neurotic temperament and his jealousy at having to share the commission.

        In 1631 he went to Naples to decorate the chapel of S. Gennaro in the Cathedral, a commission that had been hawked around because of the difficulty of getting any major Roman artist to brave the hostility of the Neapolitan artists, before whom the Cavaliere d'Arpino prudently retired, and Guido Rent fled, after the murder of one of his assistants. Domenichino's acceptance of this ungrateful task was prompted by the increasing unpopularity of his style in Rome, where the day was being carried by the more exuberant Baroque of Lanfranco and Pietro da Cortona. Domenichino also had trouble with the Neapolitan faction and worked reluctantly and not very successfully, with several flights, and again in bitter competition with Lanfranco, who was now in Naples, until he died there.

        His most famous altarpiece is the Last Communion of St Jerome (1614: Vatican). Outside Rome and Naples (where there are too many to list) examples may be found in the Royal Coll., and in Berlin, Beziers, Bologna, Bristol, Cambridge (Fitzwm), Chatsworth, Darmstadt (a self-portrait of 1603), Detroit, Edinburgh (NG), Florence (Uffizi, Pitti), Genoa (Pal. Rosso), Glasgow (University), Grottaferrata nr Frascati (frescoes of 1609/10), Hartford Conn., Leeds, London (NG), Madrid (Prado), Malibu Cal. (Getty), Milan (Brera), Montpellier, Munich, Newcastle (King's Coll.), New York (Met. Mus.), Oxford (Ashmolean, Ch. Ch.), Paris (Louvre), Raleigh NC, St Petersburg, Vicenza and York.

      • Source: The Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists (Penguin Reference Books)

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Updated: 2010