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.
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
Vision of Saint Jerome, Guercino, Rimini
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:
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
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.
La Vestizione di San Guglielmo, Guercino ©Ministero della Cultura – Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna
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.
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
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