Wednesday, March 30, 2011

40 Days of Artists: Guido Reni

Guido Reni began studying painting at around the age of nine, so it is safe to say he was destined to become one of the great masters of the 17th century. He was born in Bologna and by the age of 20 he had joined the Carracci Academy - a school of classical art that would greatly influence his style throughout his career. He was also admired Raphael, which also strengthened his adherence to the classical method of painting. This can be seen in some of Reni's works from Rome like Aurora, a piece that coupled the classical form and dramatic posing and scenery of the Baroque movement.
The combination of the dramatic Baroque style and the classical was only natural as Reni had lived most of his career traveling between Bologna and Rome. Caravaggio was probably Reni's greatest rival in Rome. One of Reni's greatest works in Bologna was The Massacre of the Innocents, which marks his mastery of depicting dramatic movement, color, and lighting with classical design and form in the figures and overall composition.
Guido Reni was without question among the greatest classical, academic artists of the 17th century Baroque movement in Italy. Throughout the centuries since his time, Reni's work has gone from being loved to being loathed, due to the changes of style and taste in art. 19th century art critics did not have a positive word to say about him, but hopefully in today's art culture and with the new rise of classical and technical skill in art that is slowly emerging, Reni's work will once again earn its well deserved reputation of being some of the greatest pieces of classical craftsmanship.

Guido Reni
St. Sebastian
oil on canvas
170 x 133 cm.
c. 1618

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