S. Rocco gettato in prigione, Oratorio di S. Rocco, Bologna

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Il Guercino in the churches of Bologna

Updated on 11 October 2023 From Bologna Welcome

Francesco Giovanni Barbieri, known as Il Guercino, was an Emilian painter of great talent and renown. Born in Cento in 1591, he lived in Bologna from 1642. Following a series of commissions from the Bolognese Pope Gregory XV, some of his best-known works have remained in the city.

Discover which churches in Bologna house works by Guercino

Church of San Giovanni in Monte, Bologna

After moving to Bologna, Guercino received important commissions for the city's churches and producing a number of altarpieces that still exist. Saint Francis Contemplating a Crucifix, painted for the Capuchins of San Giovanni in Monte, was followed by the Vision of Saint Philip with two angels, executed for Santa Maria di Galliera, and the altarpiece in San Paolo. The paintings realised for the convent of the Discalced Carmelites and for San Domenico date from the 1660s.



Oratory of San Rocco, Bologna

Named after the patron saint of the plague sufferers, the Orator was built at the beginning of the seventeenth century to accommodate the meetings of the congregations of Santa Maria della Pieta and San Rocco. There are eleven frescoes dedicated to the life of the latter saint. Of these, San Rocco Thrown into Prison was painted by Guercino in 1618. The dynamic scene has driven narrative effectiveness: Barbieri's Bolognese beginnings are evident here in the joyful, instinctive freedom of invention displayed in the work.


Church of San Salvatore, Bologna

In Guercino’s emotional world, no one was more important than his brother Paolo Antonio. A painter himself, he specialised in still lifes and supported Barbieri's work by keeping a Book of Accounts detailing commissions and payments received. When close to death in 1666, Guercino asked to be interred in a Capuchin habit next to his beloved brother in the church of San Salvatore. There, the slab "Ioannis Francisci vulgo Guercino" commemorates them both.


©Sailko, via WikimediaCommons

Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, Pieve di Cento (BO)

In connection with Barbieri’s Annunciation, his biographer Carlo Cesare Malvasia recounts that the “altarpiece with the Annontiata” was painted in 1646 “for Li Signori Mastellari della Pieve”. Guercino made the work highly original in iconographic terms: in the Annunciation of the Pieve, he depicted the moment immediately preceding the actual Annunciation, with God the Father instructing the angel in the upper part of the canvas and the Madonna in an attitude of silent, solitary meditation.



Collegiate Church of San Giovanni Battista, San Giovanni in Persiceto (BO)

The silent but impassioned dialogue stands out in The Child Jesus and Saint Anthony of Padua, painted by Guercino between 1649 and 1651 for the Capuchins of Saint Matthew in Persiceto. The artist's physician Dr. Saccenti was the intermediary between him and the patrons Carlo Imbiani and his wife Anna Maria Giamboni. Their coats of arms appear on the foot of the table. After the closure of the convent the Napoleonic age, the altarpiece was moved to the Collegiate Church.

©Mongolo1984, via WikimediaCommons

Texts edited by Arte Grand Tour

Churches of Guercino in Bologna

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

Paths of Guercino

Itineraries, exhibitions, places and experiences on Guercino

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