Caracci, Lodovico, Agostino
annibale painting bologna died
CARACCI, LODOVICO, AGOSTINO, and ANNI13.11,E, three celebrated Italian painters, were born at Bologna in 1555, 1558, and 1560 respectively. Lodovico, the eldest, son of a butcher, was cousin to the two younger, Agostino and Annibale, sons of a tailor, and had nearly finished his professional studies before the others had begun their education. From being a reputed dunce while studying under Tintoretto in Venice, he gradually rose, by an attentive observation of nature and a careful examination of the works of the great masters preserved at Bologna, Venice, Florence, and Parma, to measure himself with the teachers of his day, and ultimately projected the opening of a rival school in his native place. Finding himself unable to accomplish his design without assistance, he sent for his two cousins, and induced them to abandon their handicrafts (Agostino being a goldsmith, and Annibale a tailor) for the profession of painting. Agostino he first placed under the care of Fontana, retaining Annibale in his own studio ; but he afterwards sent both to Venice and Parma, to copy the works of Titian, Tintoretto, and Correggio, on which his own taste had been formed. On their return, the three relatives, assisted by an eminent anatomist, Anthony de la Tour, opened, in 1589, an academy of painting under the name of the Incamminati (or, as we might paraphrase it, the Right Road), provided with numerous casts, books, and bassi-rilievi,which Lodovico had collected in his travels. From the affability and kindness of the Caracci, and their zeal for the scientific edu- cation of the students, their academy rose rapidly in popular estimation, and soon every other school of art in Bologna was deserted and closed. They continued together till, at the invitation of Cardinal Farnese, Annibale and Agostino went to Rome in 1600 to paint the gallery of the cardinal's palace. The superior praises awarded to Agostino inflamed the jealousy of Annibale, already kindled by the brilliant reception given by the pupils of the Incamminati to Agostino's still highly celebrated picture of the Communion of St Jerome, and the latter was dismissed to Parma to paint the great saloon of the Casino. Here he died in 1601, when on the eve of finishing his renowned painting of Celestial, Terrestrial, and Venal Love. Annibale continued to work alone at the Farnese gallery till the designs were completed; but, disappointed at the miserable remuneration offered by the cardinal, he retired to Naples, where an unsuccessful contest for a great work in the church of the Jesuits threw him into a fever, of which he died in 1609. Lodovico always remained at his academy in Bologna (excepting for a short visit to his cousin at Rome), though invited to execute paintings in all parts of the country. Ile died in 1619, and was interred in the church of St Mary Magdalene. The works of Lodovico are numerous in the chapels of Bologna. The most famous are - The Madonna standing on the moon, with St Francis and St Jerome beside her, attended by a retinue of angels ; John the Baptist, St Jerome, St Benedict, and St Cecilia ; and the Limbo of the Fathers. He was by far the most amiable of the three cousins, rising superior to all feelings of jealousy towards his rivals and though he received large sums for his productions, yet, from his almost unparalleled liberality to the students of the academy, he died poor. With skill in painting Agostino combined the greatest proficiency in engraving (which he had studied under Cornelius de Cort) and high accomplishments as a scholar. He died not untroubled by remorse for the indecencies which, in accordance with the corruption of the time, he had introduced into some of his engravings. The works of Annibale are more diversified in style than those of the others, and comprise specimens of painting after the manner of Correggio, Titian, Paolo Veronese, Raphael, and Michelangelo. The most distinguished are the Dead Christ in the lap of the Madonna ; the Infant and St John ; St Catherine ; St Roch distributing alms (now in the Dresden Gallery) ; and the Saviour wailed over by the Maries, at present in possession of the earl of Carlisle. He frequently gave great importance to the landscape in his compositions. The reputation of Annibale is tarnished by his jealousy and vindictiveness towards his brother, and the licentiousness of his disposition, which contributed to bring him to a comparatively early grave.
The three Caracci were the founders of the so-called Eclectic School of painting, - the principle of which was to study in the works of the great masters the several excellencies for which they had been respectively pre-eminent, and to combine these in the productions of the school itself ; for instance, there was to be the design of Raphael, the power of Michelangelo, the colour of Titian, and so on. The dullest or mildest connoisseur will at once perceive that a picture uniting these various kinds of greatness would be a glorious and indeed an unparagoned work of art ; but it does not follow that the attempt to transfer the several qualities, by study and practice, from the works of various men to those of one man, is fruitful of good. It is, in fact, far the reverse ; and at the present day perhaps few axioms in art have won a wider acceptance than that which pronounces eclecticism to be at once a result and a symptom of decadence. Eclecticism indicates that the creative impulse, the vital energy and fertility, of art have departed ; that the practitioners of the day can no longer do what their forerunners did - produce admirable works, because in themselves spontaneously capable of doing so. They have on the contrary to investigate what has been achieved, and labour not for a new achievement resembling those which preceded in so far as all are the product of some personal gift, special and unforestalled, but rather for an achievement recombining and re-applying old successes, and qualifying, or indeed neutralizing, the strength of one quality by that of another. This is, in effect, an attempt to produce works of art upon the principles which govern the criticism of those works, - an attempt predestined to sterility, for no two things are more antagonistic than the producing power and the criticizing power. They may, no doubt, be united in the same person, but cannot work out their results the one through the medium of the other.