Venere, Marte e Amore, Guercino ©Galleria Estense, Modena

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Guercino's artworks in Emilia Romagna

Updated on 14 February 2024 From Bologna Welcome

Giovan Francesco Barbieri, known as Il Guercino, was an Emilian painter of considerable renown in the Baroque period. Born in Cento, in the Ferrara hinterland in 1591, he began his career in his home town before eventually moving to Bologna in 1642 and encountering success in his artistic endeavours. His legacy is a series of important works distributed throughout Emilia Romagna in the cultural sites of Rimini, Cento, Bologna, Modena, Piacenza, all well worth visiting in an itinerary along the Via Emilia.

Discover the works of Guercino in Emilia Romagna

"The Vision of Saint Jerome" - City Museum of Rimini

Guercino's renown earned him important public commissions in the cities of Romagna. The altarpieces executed in Ravenna, Forlì and Cesena in the 1640s variously depict moments of ecstasy or intense meditation. The famous canvas with The Vision of St. Jerome (1641), now in the City Museum in Rimini, is also described in Guercino’s Book of Accounts as portraying “St. Jerome when he seemed to be awakened and called to Judgment by the Angel”.

Vision of Saint Jerome, Guercino, Rimini 

Exhibitions in Bologna

Guercino came upon Bologna, then settled in the city and founded his workshop: a family enterprise that transformed unschooled pupils into rounded artists. The Guercino itinerary in Bologna can be based on these exhibitions: 

“Guercino in the studio” is the exhibition to be held in the National Art Gallery from 28 October 2023 to 25 February 2024, covering the different aspects of Guercino’s work: from the creative process to relationships with collaborators.

The exhibition "Guercino's “rediscovered” music” at the MusicMuseum from 7 November 2023 to 18 February 2024 showcases five handwritten manuscripts containing nine musical compositions that were copied from the now-lost frescoes of Guercino.

The Guercino exhibition of the fresco cycle on Rinaldo and Armida opened on 3 December 2023 at the Pinacoteca Civica "Graziano Campanini" - "Le Scuole" in Pieve di Cento, in the province of Bologna. A renewed layout for the permanent exhibition of no less than 10 works by the artist.

Madonna del Passero, Guercino ©Ministero della Cultura – Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna

Guercino sites in Bologna

The permanent collections of the Civic Museums, together with the works housed in the private Genus Bononiae Museums and in public and private historical buildings, including the University Museums and the churches of Bologna, tell the fascinating and exuberantly creative story of Il Guercino. Canvases, frescoes, drawings, sketches and musical compositions are just some of the Emilian painter’s artistic legacy in the city, enriching the already vast cultural heritage of Bologna.

Discover more about Guercino in Bologna ->

La Vestizione di San Guglielmo, Guercino ©Ministero della Cultura – Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna 

Il Guercino Art Gallery, Cento (FE)

Guercino nurtured an intense bond with Cento even during the years he spent away from the town. The churches, palaces and local area of Cento are dotted with the works of the painter and his school. The Civic Art Gallery allows the spectator to interpret Barbieri's painting career starting from his models (in particular Ludovico Carracci) and to retrace his artistic path through some absolute masterpieces, such as the “Madonna with Blessing Child” and “The Resurrected Christ Appears to the Virgin", admired by Velázquez and Goethe.

"Venus, Mars and Cupid" - Modena, Galleria Estense

Of the large group of Guercino's works in the Galleria Estense, the most famous is certainly the canvas depicting Venus, Mars and Cupid. Commissioned in 1633 by Duke Francesco I d'Este, the painting was part of the cycle that adorned the “Chamber of Dreams” in the Ducal Palace in Sassuolo. Guercino inventively involves the observer, towards whom Cupid directs his bow as instructed by his mother Venus, while Mars reacts alarmed at the indomitable power of love.

Venere, Marte e Amore, Guercino ©Galleria Estense, Modena


"The Prophets of Piacenza" - Piacenza, Cathedral

In 1626 Guercino was invited to Piacenza to finish the fresco decoration of the dome, left incomplete after the death of the commissioned Lombard artist Morazzone the previous year. The vast decorative area included a depiction of the Prophets on the segments of the dome structure, scenes from the life of Christ and the Sibyls in the lunettes, and a lively frieze in the tambour. Skilfully represented in a foreshortened perspective and luxuriantly draped, the Piacenza figures are a masterpiece of absolute pictorial joy.

Dome of Piacenza Cathedral, Guercino ©PietroPav

Texts edited by Arte Grand Tour

La Vestizione di San Guglielmo, Guercino ©Ministero della Cultura – Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna

The paths of Guercino

Learn more about the painter joinin' in exhibitions, tours and suggested routes

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