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Definition: Guercino from Chambers Biographical Dictionary


"the Squint-Eyed"


Gian-Francesco Barbieri


Italian painter of the Bolognese school

Born in Cento, he painted the famous Aurora at the Villa Ludovisi in Rome for Pope Gregory XV. In 1642, after the death of Guido Reni, he became the dominant painter of Bologna, combining in his work the liveliness and movement of the Carracci with a warmer, more Venetian colouring.

Summary Article: Guercino, Il
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Italian baroque painter. He was active chiefly in Rome. In his ceiling painting of Aurora (1621–23; Villa Ludovisi, Rome), the chariot-borne figure of Dawn rides across the heavens; the architectural framework is imitated in the painting, giving the illusion that the ceiling opens into the sky.

He first studied at Cento and worked in Rome, Venice and Bologna, forming a powerful style by study successively of the Carracci, Caravaggio and Guido Reni. His work in Rome, 1621–22, when he was employed by Pope Gregory XV, included his Petronilla, which was placed in the Capitol, and his ceiling decoration Aurora for the Villa Ludovisi, which rivals Guido Reni's famous version of the same subject. He worked at Cento 1623–42, then removed to Bologna, where, following Reni, he produced many vapid religious paintings which show a decline from his early work. He was a prolific and able draughtsman and his drawings were highly prized in 18th-century England, many fine examples being among the 600 in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. Guercino's use of dramatic lighting recalls Caravaggio, but his brighter colours reflect a contrasting mood. His later works, produced when he had retired to Bologna, are calmer, the colours less striking.

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