Volume 45 Issue 1, January 2010

Volume 45 Issue 1

Painter, draughtsman and etcher, in his day Reni was one of the most influential 17th-century Italian painters. Born in Bologna into a family of musicians, he was apprenticed to a Bolognese studio at the age of nine. From the age of 20, he was a member of the Accademia degli Incamminati, ‘Progressives’ who formed the nucleus of a prolific and successful school of Bolognese painters. In his early career Reni executed important commissions for Pope Paul V and Cardinal Scipione Borghese, painting numerous frescoes in chapels for these and other patrons. At his best, his style was classically simple and restrained, but luminous and vibrantly coloured; his work was especially celebrated for the grace of the figures, and the intense emotion conveyed. His religious compositions made him one of the most famous painters of his day in Europe, and a model for other Italian Baroque artists. After 20 years in Rome, he returned to Bologna more or less permanently, and established a successful and prolific studio, although sadly the effects of inveterate gambling forced him to sell his talents to art traders, resulting in mannered and repetitious work in his later years.


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