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

Raising of Lazarus

c. 1619
Oil on canvas, 199 x 233 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

'Guercino' means 'squint-eyed' and is the unpromising nickname under which the artist Giovanni Francesco Barbieri won international fame. Coming from Cento, a small town equidistant between Ferrara and Bologna, he was virtually self-taught and like many seventeenth-century artists was able to choose his own influences. He looked to Bologna, to the work of the Carracci, and to paintings by Caravaggio in private collections, forging from these a lyrical idiom of his own.

A local nobleman having lent him rooms in his house, Guercino founded there an Academy of the Nude, where he and his followers were able to draw from the model. The figure of Christ in this painting palpably relies on just such a study from life.

This painting was commissioned by Cardinal Giacomo Serra, the papal legate to Ferrara.