Carlo Dolci

Carlo Dolci

Carlo (or Carlino) Dolci (25 May, 161617 January, 1686) was an Italian painter of the Baroque period, active mainly in Florence.


He was born in Florence, on his mother's side the grandson of a painter. Although he was precocious and apprenticed at a young age to Jacopo Vignali, Dolci was not prolific. "He would take weeks over a single foot", according to his biographer Baldinucci. [ [ Getty Museum biography] ] His painstaking technique made him unsuited for large-scale fresco painting. He painted chiefly sacred subjects, and his works are generally small in scale, although he made a few life-size pictures. He often repeated the same composition in several versions, and his daughter, Agnese Dolci, also made excellent copies of his works.

Dolci was known for his piety. It is said that every year during Passion week he painted a half-figure of the Saviour wearing the Crown of Thorns. In 1682, when he saw Giordano, nicknamed "fa presto" (quick worker), paint more in five hours than he could have completed in months, he fell into a depression. [ [| Web Gallery of Art biography] ] He died in Florence in 1686.


The grand manner, vigorous coloration or luminosity, and dynamic emotion of the Bolognese-Roman Baroque are foreign to Dolci and to Baroque Florence. While he fits into a long tradition of prestigious official Florentine painting, Dolci appears constitutionally blind to the new aesthetic, shackled by the Florentine tradition that holds each drawn figure under a microscope of academicism. Wittkower describes him as the Florentine counterpart, in terms of devotional imagery, of the Roman Sassoferrato. [ Wittkower, p.345 ] Pilkington declared his touch "inexpressibly neat ... though he has often been censured for the excessive labour bestowed on his pictures, and for giving his carnations more of the appearance of ivory than the look of flesh",Fact|date=October 2007 a flaw that had been already apparent in Agnolo Bronzino.

His major works depict sacred themes. There is a want of character in his pictures, and his grouping lacks harmony, but the general tone accords with the idea of the passion portrayed. His protagonists are often highly emotive.

Among the best works of this master are "St Sebastian"; the "Four Evangelists" at Florence; "Christ Breaking the Bread" [Subsequently held at Burleigh] ; the holds a miraculous and iconic painting of St Dominic. [Charles McCorquodale, "Some Unpublished Works by Carlo Dolci" "The Burlington Magazine" (1979) pages 140, 142-147, 149-150.]




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