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Self Portrait
Il Guercino, original name Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (born Feb. 8, 1591, Cento, near Ferrara, Papal States [Italy]—died Dec. 22, 1666, Bologna), Italian painter whose frescoes freshly exploited the illusionistic ceiling, making a profound impact on 17th-century Baroque decoration. His nickname Il Guercino (“The Squinting One”) was derived from a physical defect.

Guercino received his earliest training locally, but the formative influence on his style came from Bologna, especially from the naturalistic paintings of Lodovico Carracci. Such early works as “Madonna in Glory with Saints and a Donor” (1616; Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels) have large forms, strong colour, and broad, vigorous brushwork. His method of using light and shadow was unrelated to the discoveries of Caravaggio and was derived from Bologna and Venice, which Guercino visited in 1618.

In 1621 Guercino went to Rome, where he played an important role in the evolution of Roman High Baroque art. Among many other commissions, he decorated the Casino Ludovisi. The main fresco, “Aurora,” on the ceiling of the Grand Hall, is a spirited romantic work, painted to appear as though there were no ceiling, so that the viewer could see Aurora’s chariot moving directly over the building. Yet it already reveals something of the crucial experience of his stay in Rome, his contact with Pope Gregory XV’s private secretary, Monsignor Agucchi, a propagandist for the classicism of Annibale Carracci’s balanced and restrained Roman style. Guercino seems to have tried to make his own style conform with Carraccesque principles, an effort reflected in his “Sta. Petronilla” (1621; Capitoline Museum, Rome). On the death of Gregory XV in 1623, Guercino opened a studio in Cento. Then, upon the death of Guido Reni (1642), whose position in Bologna as heir to Annibale Carracci had been unassailable, he moved to that city, where he was the leading painter until his death.

Some of Guercino’s late works, such as “Abraham Driving Out Hagar and Ishmael” (1657–58; Brera Picture Gallery, Milan), are impressive achievements, but other paintings seem weak or sentimental.

Encyclopædia Britannica


A Donor Presented to the Virgin
Oil on canvas, 309 x 192 cm
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

The Resurrected Christ Appears to the Virgin
Oil on canvas, 260 x 179 cm
Pinacoteca Comunale, Cento

Angels Weeping over the Dead Christ
Oil on copper, 36 x 44 cm
National Gallery, London

Et in Arcadia Ego
Oil on canvas, 82 x 91 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

Casino Ludovisi, Rome

Ermina Finds the Wounded Tancred
Oil on canvas, 145,5 x 187,5 cm
Galleria Doria-Pamphili, Rome

The Martyrdom of St Peter
Oil on canvas, 320 x 193 cm
Galleria Estense, Modena

Return of the Prodigal Son
Oil on canvas, 106,5 x 143,5 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Samson Captured by the Philistines
Oil on canvas
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


St Marguerite
Oil on canvas
S. Pietro in Vincoli, Rome

Martyrdom of St Catherine
Oil on canvas, 222,5 x 159 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Susanna and the Elders
Oil on canvas, 175 x 207 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

St William of Aquitaine Receiving the Cowl
Oil on canvas
Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna

St Augustine Washing the Feet of the Redeemer
Oil on canvas
S. Agostino in Campo Marzio, Rome

St Augustine, St John the Baptist and St Paul the Hermit
Oil on canvas
S. Agostino in Campo Marzio, Rome

The Entombment of Christ
Oil on canvas
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago

The Flagellation of Christ
Oil on canvas 250 x 185 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

St Francis with an Angel Playing Violin
Oil on canvas, 162 x 127 cm
Gemaldegalerie, Dresden