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    • Guido Reni (1575-1642)


        Painter

        He was a Bologonese painter who enjoyed the highest reputation in the 17th and 18th centuries until it was blasted by Ruskin, following the revulsion expressed by the Nazarener and the PFB. In spite of Reni's sentimental religiosity his pictures are now returning to favour, on account of their combination of Caravaggio and the Carracci. To the surprise of his fellow-countrymen he remained a life-long virgin; this, however, he is said to have compensated for by an addiction to gambling.

        He was a pupil, with Albani and Domenichino, of the Fleming Calvaert (c.1584-93) until his conversion to the manner of the the Carracci (c.1594). About 1600/1601 he went to Rome for the first time, where he was influenced to some extent by the naturalism of Caravaggio (who, typically, is said to have threatened to kill him); his own style, however, depends much more on the Raphaelesque classicism of the Carracci Academy and is best seen in the Aurora (1613-14: Rome, Casino Rospigliosi). This is a ceiling fresco that makes no attempt at sotto in su illusionism (Guerini's Aurora of 1621-3), but is treated as a quadro riportato - exactly as an easel picture seen in the normal way. It also contains some conscious quotations from the Antique.

        Apart from a trip to Naples in 1622 he worked in Rome, and, mainly, in Bologna. The plague of 1630 in Bologna was the cause of his great votive Madonna (1631-2: Bologna, Pinacoteca).

        There are many works by him in Bologna and Rome (Capitoline, Borghese, Quirinal Palace, S. Gregorio Magno and other Roman churches) and others in Auckland NZ, Birmingham, Bradford, Cambridge (Fitzwm), Chicago, Cleveland Ohio, Detroit, Dresden, Dublin, Edinburgh (NG), Florence (Uffizi, Pitti), Genoa (Gall. Naz., Pal. Rosso, S. Ambrogio), Glasgow, Greenville SC, Kingston Lacy Dorset (NT), Leeds, London (NG, Dulwich: a splendid Baptist, 1640-42), Los Angeles, Madrid (Prado), Malibu Cal. (Getty), Manchester, Munich, Naples, New York (Met. Mus.), Paris (Deeds of Hercules set, 1617/21, Louvre, and Job, 1622-36, recently rediscovered in Notre Dame), Prague, Sarsota Fla, Toledo Ohio, the Vatican and Vienna (KHM, Akad.).

      • Source: The Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists (Penguin Reference Books)
        This is the most important dictionary on art and artists ever published and an essential read.


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Updated: 2006