NGV National Gallery of Victoria

The legacy of the Carracci

Annibale Carracci
Italian 1560–1609
The Assumption of the Virgin (L'Assunzione della Vergine) c.1587
oil on canvas
130.0 x 97.0 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P00075)
Spanish Royal Collection
Around 1582 the brothers Annibale and Agostino Carracci, along with their older cousin Ludovico, founded an art academy in Bologna in central Italy. Their intention was to reinvigorate painting by means of an intense study of the natural world, and through bold experimentation both in drawing and painting. Their work and teaching profoundly shaped seventeenth-century Italian art.

The students of the Carracci were trained to draw directly from the studio model and the world around them. Excellence in draughtsmanship became fundamental to their practice. Within a short time their academy was attracting a host of students, some of whom would forge outstanding careers. Guido Reni, for instance, was one exceptional pupil who became renowned for his delicacy of touch and refinement of colour. He quickly became the leading painter in Rome in the early seventeenth century. Giovanni Lanfranco was another former pupil of the Carracci who would gain an international reputation, whose work was eagerly sought in Spain.