(b. 1591, Cento, d. 1666, Bologna)


Guercino (a nickname meaning "the squinter", originally Giovanni Francesco Barbieri), Italian painter of the Bolognese school. He was self-taught but developed precociously. Despite the fact that he spent much of his life in Cento, a small provincial town between Bologna and Ferrara, he managed to become one of the major artists of his day. He was early inspired by the classical reforms of Lodovico Carracci but his pictures were full of movement and intense feeling.

In 1621 Pope Gregory XV summoned him to Rome where he stayed until 1623, trying to balance his own dynamic temperament with the rarefied manner of the classical school. The works he produced in Rome such as Aurora, in the Ludovisi's country house were perhaps his most original paintings. After Gregory's death in 1623, he went back to Emilia, his energy gradually seemed to dissipate and his painting became more controlled. On the death of Guido Reni (1642) he moved to Bologna where the dominant climate was coldly classical. Altering his art to suit this atmosphere, Guercino became the leader of its academic art world.

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