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You may think it’s a waste of time honoring someone who was born over 4oo years ago but look at some of the great illustration work produced today and there are some still working in a style harkening back to Guercino’s time. There’s a lot to learn studying the work of this great artist. Besides I relate to him because he was cross-eyed and sometimes my computer leaves me crosseyed.      

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (February 2 or 8?, 1591 – December 22, 1666), best known as Guercino or Il Guercino, was an Italian Baroque painter from the region of Emilia, and active in Rome and Bologna. Guercino is Italian for ‘squinter’, a nickname that was given to him because he was cross-eyed. He is especially noted for his many drawings. Guercino was born at Cento, a village between Bologna and Ferrara. By the age of 17 he was associated with Benedetto Gennari, a painter of the Bolognese School. By 1615 he had moved to Bologna, where his work gained the praise of an elder Ludovico Carracci. Guercino painted two large canvases, Elijah Fed by Ravens and Samson Seized by Philistines, in what appears to be a stark naturalist Caravaggesque style (although it is unlikely he had been able to see any of the Roman Caravaggios first-hand). They were painted for Cardinal Serra, Papal Legate to Ferrara.

St. Paul painting by Guercino

St. Paul painting by Guercino

The Arcadian Shepherds (Et in Arcadia ego) was painted in 1618 contemporary with The Flaying of Marsyas by Apollo in Palazzo Pitti. His first style, he often claimed, was influenced by a canvas of Annibale Carracci in Cento. Some of his later pieces approach rather to the manner of his contemporary Guido Reni, and are painted with more lightness and clearness. Guercino was very highly esteemed in his lifetime. He was then recommended by Marchese Enzo Bentivoglioto the Bolognese Ludovisi Pope, Pope Gregory XV. The two years he spent in Rome, 1621-23, were very productive. From this period came his frescoes of Aurora at the casino of the Villa Ludovisi and the ceiling in San Crisogono(1622) of San Chrysogonus in Glory; his portrait of Pope Gregory (now in the Getty Museum, and, what is considered his masterpiece, The Burial of Saint Petronilla or St. Petronilla Altarpiece, for the Vatican (now in the Museo Capitolini).

Caravaggio‘s influence is manifest in this canvas of Queen Semiramis hearing of the insurrection at Babylon (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

The Franciscan order of Reggio in 1655 paid him 300 ducats for the altarpiece of Saint Luke Displaying a Painting of the Madonna and Child(now in Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City). The Corsini also paid him 300 ducats for the Flagellation of Christ painted in 1657. He was remarkable for the extreme rapidity of his execution—he completed no fewer than 106 large altar-pieces for churches, and his other paintings amount to about 144. In 1626 he began his frescoes in the Duomo of Piacenza. Guercino continued to paint and teach up to the time of his death in 1666, amassing a notable fortune.   Source: Wikipedia