CARRACCI, Annibale
(b. 1560, Bologna, d. 1602, Roma)

Venus and Adonis

c. 1595
Oil on canvas, 217 x 246 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

It seems likely that Annibale and his brother Agostino both trained in their cousin Ludovico Carracci's studio. The three certainly worked together on a number of occasions but it was soon apparent that Annibale was the real genius among them, with the potential to become one of the greatest reformers in the history of painting. From his debut with a Crucifixion, Bologna, S. Maria della Carità, 1583, Annibale looked determined to reject the aridly cerebral and cold formulas of the Mannerists.

Well-spent study tours around 1585 allowed Annibale to master the Renaissance Grand Manner of Titian and Correggio, especially their use of colour, but he rediscovered it in a modernized way. The foundation of the "Accademia dei Desiderosi" was of paramount importance to art as it signaled their belief that classical contemporary painting could still be taught. All the Carracci stressed the importance of drawing from life (all three were brilliant graphic artists), which was to be a hallmark of the Bolognese School they founded. In about 1595 both the Academy and the Carracci cousins' activity physically moved to Rome. This was in official recognition of the movement of artistic reform they had started and then taken right to the very heart of artistic debate. Thanks chiefly to them, Rome became the leading centre of the latest ideas and experiments in art in the seventeenth century.