Domenichino

Domenico Zampieri called Domenichino (Bologna, October 21, 1581 – Naples, April 6, 1641) was an Italian painter of the Bolognese School, or Carracci School

Fervent advocate of classicism, in his paintings, where the drawing, learned by Ludovico Carracci, assumes a preponderant role, tends to create compositions of simplicity and narrative clarity, transfigured into a classic beauty ideal

Si è detto che fosse chiamato Domenichino per la piccola statura, è più probabile che il nomignolo si riferisse alla sua ingenuità e alla morbosa timidezza della sua indole

Figlio del calzolaio Giovan Pietro e di Valeria, dapprima si dedica a studi umanistici, di grammatica e retorica, ma mostra subito tali interessi artistici che il padre gli permette di frequentare un apprendistato nell’atelier bolognese di Denijs Calvaert insieme col fratello maggiore – che rinuncerà ben presto alla pittura per tornare nella bottega paterna Domenico ha per compagni di studio Guido Reni e Francesco Albani, col quale si lega in fraterna amicizia e di cui condivide l’orientamento classicista

Quando il collerico Calvaert lo sorprende a copiare stampe di Agostino Carracci, lo caccia dalla bottega nel 1595 e Domenichino trova accoglienza nell’Accademia degli Incamminati retta, in assenza di Annibale Carracci allora operoso a Roma, da Agostino e Ludovico Carracci; insieme con Ludovico, col Reni e l’Albani, collabora alle decorazioni dell’oratorio di San Colombano, presso Bologna, realizzando la Deposizione nel sepolcro

Nel 1601 lascia Bologna per trasferirsi a Roma, dove visse nel Rione Monti insieme all’amico Francesco Albani, per studiare le opere di Raffaello e collaborare con Annibale Carracci, al tempo forse il più apprezzato pittore operante a Roma Di Annibale il Domenichino fu allievo fino alla morte del maestro (1609) e sotto la sua guida mosse i primi passi romani collaborando al cantiere carraccesco della Galleria Farnese

La data «A dì 12 aprile 1603 in Roma», appare nel suo Ritratto di giovane del museo di Darmstadt, dove un giovane, vestito di nero e col cappello serrato sul petto, è inquadrato dagli stipiti di una porta contro il paesaggio che si apre sulla campagna, benché in passato fosse considerato un autoritratto, non corrisponde ai tratti somatici dell’artista descritti nelle fonti letterarie, forse si tratta del ritratto di Antonio Carracci, figlio di Agostino Dello stesso anno sono anche il Cristo alla colonna della raccolta Hazlitt di Londra e la Pietà di Brocklesby Park, in Gran Bretagna

Nel 1604 dipinge per il cardinale Agucchi la Liberazione di san Pietro nella chiesa di San Pietro in Vincoli, diventando amico del cardinale, nei loro colloqui prende parte alla formulazione teorica del movimento classicista

Domenichino si dedica soprattutto all’affresco: grazie al cardinale Girolamo Agucchi, ottiene la prima commissione pubblica a Roma per i tre affreschi nella Chiesa di Sant’Onofrio al Gianicolo (1604-1605); per i Farnese partecipa ai lavori di completamento della decorazione della Galleria di Palazzo Farnese (1604-1605) dipingendo la Fanciulla e l’unicorno (1604–1605) per la serie degli Amori degli dei, e tre paesaggi mitologici, tra cui La morte di Adone, nella Loggia del Giardino; inizia nel 1608 l’affresco con la Flagellazione di sant’Andrea nell’oratorio della chiesa di San Gregorio al Celio, dove inserisce le piccole figure in una piazza romana chiusa da un muro e dalle colonne di un tempio con nello sfondo a sinistra una città antica e collabora con l’Albani alle decorazioni di Palazzo Mattei di Giove a Roma, affrescando una Rachele al pozzo

Grazie all’appoggio di monsignor Giovanni Battista Agucchi, segretario del cardinale Pietro Aldobrandini, “cardinal nepote” di Clemente VIII Aldobrandini e fratello del cardinale Girolamo Agucchi, del quale fa un ritratto, ora agli Uffizi, secondo la tradizione raffaellesca, Domenichino ottiene la commissione di affrescare con le Storie di San Nilo la Cappella dei Santissimi Fondatori, nell’Abbazia di San Nilo a Grottaferrata (1608 – 1610), il cui priore è Odoardo Farnese

Il 30 settembre 1609 ottiene un pagamento per gli affreschi con le Storie di Diana nel palazzo Giustiniani a Bassano Romano, in provincia di Viterbo

Intorno al 1610 dipinge, eccezionalmente su tavola, il Paesaggio con san Girolamo, ora nel Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum di Glasgow La figura del leone, secondo la leggenda guarito da Girolamo, è derivata da una xilografia di Tiziano, confermando l’attenzione per l’arte veneziana nella pittura di paesaggio dei Carracci e di Domenichino

The first independent commissions came to the beginning of the second decade of the century with the decoration commissioned by Pierre Polet of the chapel of his family in St. Louis of the French; It takes three years to complete the Stories of Santa Cecilia, with figures that derive directly from classical statues and Raffaello’s work; Meanwhile he painted the communion of Saint Jerome for the church of St. Jerome of Charity, where Philip Neri founded his oratory, but now in the Vatican Museums. The painting is inspired by a 14th century letter, but then considered written in the fifth century Eusebius of Cremona, describing the details of the death of the saint at ninety-six years, emaciated by privations. The center of the canvas is the host, to underline, according to the dictates of the Council of Trent, the real presence of Christ in Communion, The altar of St. Jerome of Charity, the painting shows clear references with the canvas performed by Agostino Carracci for the church of San Girolamo at Certosa in Bologna, taking up refined colorism and attention to the psychological effects of the characters; Compared to Augustine’s painting, Domenichino reverses composition and decreases the number of characters

In 1615 the Guardian angel ended for a church in Palermo, now at the Capodimonte Museum in Naples

Thanks to Giovanni Battista Agucchi, Domenichino is commissioned to perform a series of frescoes in the Aldobrandini villa in Frascati (1616-1618), including the Apollo Stories now in the National Gallery in London and has time to go to To freshen up with the Stories of the Virgin the chapel Nolfi in the Duomo

In 1617 he received the payment for the Diana Hunt in the Borghese Gallery and the Sibylis now at the Pinacoteca Capitolina, and was placed in the ceiling of the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, the canvas of Assunta La Hunting of Diana was commissioned by Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini to His gallery, where he had to appear next to the Baccanali of Giovanni Bellini, Titian and Dosso Dossi, carried by the Cardinal from Ferrara, but Scipione Borghese wanted the painting for himself and pulled it by force from the painter’s studio, which was held for some Days in jail The episode depicted is taken from Eneide (V, 485-518) in which Virgil tells the race held between the men of Aeneas to hit a dove in flight linked to the ship’s tree, but here otherwise contextualized within a Mythological hunting The figure of the figure with the nymph in the foreground looking outwards causes the spectator’s attention to the goddess and from here to the landscape lacu stre

The artist leaves Rome in 1618, stopping in Bologna to perform the Madonna del Rosario’s shovel before settling in Fano. Back to Bologna in April to marry Marsibilia Barbetti: the first son is baptized in the church of San Petronio in Bologna by Cardinal Alessandro Ludovisi , That three days later he will become pope, with the name of Gregory XV

Called in 1621 in Rome by the new pontiff, April 1 is appointed as general architect of the Apostolic Chamber but will not design any building; In 1622 he was commissioned to freshen the plumes and the choir of the basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle, and a few years later to paint the stories of the life of the saint in the apse

Here the artist exalts his classical language towards a more airy composition and a recovery of the atmospheric yield of the master Ludovico Carracci in open competition with Lanfranco to which, after the death of Cardinal Alessandro Peretti Montalto, commissioner of the frescoes of Sant’Andrea della Valle, and Pope Gregory XV, was entrusted with the decoration of the dome, in fact, in the evangelists painted on the vaults of the vault, in the raffaellesque and michelangiolesque reminiscences, a strong note of Corregge is added, while in the individual episodes of the life of the saint, still strictly separate from Decorative ribs, the scenery is enlarged and recalls some of Ludovico Carracci’s assumptions

Domenichino devotes six years to this company (until February 1628), but at the same time produces many canvases: two Hercules Stories currently in the Louvre, the altarpiece of the Sao Paulo Conversion of the Volterra Cathedral, the martyrdom of San Sebastiano (1625-1630), initially for the Basilica of St. Peter now in Santa Maria degli Angeli, and the martyrdom of St. Peter Martyr, inspired by a famous but lost picture of Titian, although in the linear and dry figures there is Nothing of tizianesco, while the prevailing landscape can be remembered by the Veronese

In 1623 begins the reproach to Adam and Eve, which will be donated by the architect André le Nôtre to Louis XIV in 1693 Cast on copper with a strong focus on color contrasts, the work recalls the production of Adam Elsheimer and above all of Paul Brill

The figure of the Padre is a michelangiolesca quote from the Sistine side, while the foremost animals symbolize – the lion and the lamb, according to Biblical and virgin quotations – the peaceful coexistence of the golden age, while the horse which, Jeremiah, symbolizing lust, announces the end, with the original sin, that mythical age

In 1626 he took part in the competition for the church of Sant’Ignazio In 1628 he started the frescoes of San Carlo ai Catinari, which ends in 1630

His great Roman activity of these years leads him to the election of the prestigious National Academy of San Luca, the most important artistic institution of the time in Rome, for the year 1629

On 23 March 1630 he accepted, in a letter sent to Naples, the assignment for the Treasury Chapel in the Duomo offered by the Deputies of the Chapel of the Treasury of San Gennaro. In June, the frescoes of San Carlo ai Catinari were transferred to Naples

Contrary to Neapolitan artists, such as Belisario Corenzio, Jusepe de Ribera and Battistello Caracciolo, jealous of his fortune, not appreciated by the Viceroy and reluctant, for reasons of interest by his family, in the summer of 1634 abandoned the city for Frascati, where he is Housed in the villa of the Aldobrandini The Treasury Deputies of San Gennaro are doing everything to make the Domenichino return, arriving to confiscate his wife and daughter who remained in Naples, so that at the beginning of the following year he returns to the Parthenopean city To continue the work

In 1637 he received the payment for nine frescoes of the Treasury Chapel, on November 1 in a letter to Francesco Albani explains the symbolic intentions of the Madonna del Rosario In June 1638 he began to paint the dome of the Chapel; In the plumes, continuing the trends developed in those of Sant’Andrea, filled the spherical spaces with a multitude of gesturing figures that seemed petrified

In 1640 there is another payment for the Martyrdom of St. Gennaro On April 3, 1641, he extends his will and dies three days later

Ideas on art:

Domenichino’s work, developed principally from Raphael’s and the Carracci’s examples, mirrors the theoretical ideas of his friend Giovanni Battista Agucchi, with whom the painter collaborated on a Treatise on Painting. The portrait of Agucchi in York used to be attributed to Domenichino, but is now thought to be by Annibale Carracci, another friend.

It represents what would become known as classic-idealist art, which aims to surpass the imperfections of nature by developing an “Idea of Beauty” (idea del bello) through the study and imitation of the best examples of ancient and Renaissance art. Imitation in this sense is not copying but a creative process inspired by rhetorical theory whereby revered models are not only emulated but surpassed. One of the most famous incidents in the history of art that centered on concepts of Imitation arose when Lanfranco accused Domenichino of plagiarism, specifically of having stolen the design of his great Last Communion of St. Jerome from an altarpiece of the same subject in Bologna by his former teacher, Agostino Carracci. To prove his point, Lanfranco circulated a print after Agostino’s painting, prompting painters and critics to take sides, most of whom—including Poussin and the antiquarian-critic-biographer Bellori—strongly defended Domenichino’s work as being praiseworthy imitation.

In addition to his interest in the theory of painting (he was well educated and bookish), Domenichino was devoted to music, not as a performer but to the invention of instruments suited to the stile moderno or to what Monteverdi dubbed the seconda pratica. Like Domenichino’s paintings, its sources were in ancient models and aimed at clarity of expression capable of moving its audience. As the Florentine composer Giulio Caccini held and Domenichino surely believed, the aim of the composer/artist was to “move the passion of the mind”. To achieve that goal, Domenichino paid particular attention to expressive gestures. Some 1750 drawings in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle attest to the assiduous study underlying Domenichino’s work—figural, architectural, decorative, landscape, even caricature—and to the painter’s brilliance as a draftsman. In Roger de Piles’ Balance of 1708, an effort to quantify and compare the greatness of painters in four categories (no artist ever achieved a score above 18 in any category), the French critic awarded Domenichino 17 points for drawing (dessein), 17 for expression, 15 for composition, yet only 9 as a colorist. Domenichino’s composite score of 58 nonetheless was surpassed only by Raphael and Rubens, and it equalled that of the Carracci.