NGV National Gallery of Victoria

Toward realism

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione
Italian c.1609–1664
Diogenes seeking an honest man (Diogene ricerca di un uomo onesto) c.1645–55
oil on canvas
97.0 x 145.0 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P00088)
Spanish Royal Collection
By the 1580s Italian painters began to turn away from the artificial style derived from Michelangelo, codified as Mannerism, as practised by painters such as Giorgio Vasari. They moved towards a more realistic mode led by the Carracci family of Bologna and Caravaggio of Lombardy.

The changes in approach and values inspired a host of other artists, such as the Bolognese painter Guercino and the Tuscan artist Pietro da Cortona, who also invested his work with a profound understanding of the classical past. The examination of classical literature and art had a lasting effect on artists throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and can be seen in the work of Andrea di Lione and Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione.