(b. ca. 1583, Venezia, d. 1618, Roma)
Landscape with Bathersc. 1616
Oil on canvas, 40,5 x 61 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
This composition is known in two versions: the one from Boston and another in tempera in the Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Florence. While both clearly belong to the Carracci circle, their precise authorship has been the subject of debate. First attributed to Agostino Carracci then to Sisto Badalocchio, the tempera in Florence is now given to Agostino's son Antonio. The version in Boston is considered to be by Badalocchio or perhaps by Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi. However, apart from the variation in the colour scheme due to the different media, the two canvases are identical. They must, therefore, be by the same painter, in all likelihood Antonio Carracci.
The two nudes at the centre of the composition are derived from Michelangelo's Battle of Cascina and are almost indistinguishable from those in a fresco of The Flood in the so-called Stanza del Diluvio in the Palazzo del Quirinale painted by Antonio Carracci in 1616. In a canvas version of the fresco (Musée du Louvre, Paris), there is also a rocky ledge very similar to the central one in the Landscape with Bathers. If no further precise analogies can be drawn with other documented landscapes by Antonio, it is well to keep in mind that they are all in fresco and were often repainted in the nineteenth century. The subject, which is unthinkable without Domenichino's precedents, remains rather obscure: a fully dressed woman, next to a picnic basket, directs the viewer's attention to a clothed man in the middle ground, while the Herculean efforts of the two nude bathers on a small promontory at the centre seem unjustified by the occasion.