BONZI, Pietro Paolo
(b. ca. 1576, Cortona, d. 1636, Roma)

Landscape with Shepherds and Sheep

c. 1621
Oil on canvas, 47 x 64 cm
Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome

During his lifetime Bonzi was particularly renowned for his still-lifes, but, like Filippo Napoletano, he was also active as a painter of landscapes. His output in this genre became entangled with that of Agostino Tassi, even though the two do not really have much in common. In addition to this canvas, Bonzi's certain works include The Martyrdom of St Sebastian and The Rest of Hercules (both in the Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome), Nymph and Faun (Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini, Rome) and Latona and the Frogs (Musée du Louvre, Paris).

Bonzi was clearly influenced by Annibale Carracci and to an even greater extent by Domenichino, but his compositions are more open on both sides and his terrain much flatter. His foregrounds spread out freely without obstacles such as large rocks or bushes, almost inviting the viewer to walk into the picture. His rather awkward figures tend to move parallel to the picture plane in a frieze-like procession. In the early 1620s he worked at the Palazzo Borghese on the Quirinal hill with Filippo Napoletano, each decorating different rooms. In this landscape Bonzi's close attention to naturalistic detail suggests the influence of Bril. Establishing a chronology for Bonzi's landscapes is almost impossible, but this work is perhaps not too far in date from the Pallavicini-Rospigliosi frescoes. The shepherds' nakedness indicates that the scene is not contemporary (even though sheep-farming had largely replaced cultivation in the Roman campagna around this time), but rather an episode from Virgil's Arcadia.

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