Guido Reni

Guido Reni

Guido Reni (4 November 1575 – 18 August 1642) was a prominent Italian painter of high-Baroque style.


Born in Bologna into a family of musicians, Guido Reni was the son of Daniele Reni and Ginevra de’ Pozzi. As a child of nine, he was apprenticed under the Bolognese studio of Denis Calvaert. Soon after, he was joined in that studio by Albani and Domenichino. He may also have trained with a painter by the name of Ferrantini. When Reni was about twenty years old, the three Calvaert pupils migrated to the rising rival studio, named "Accademia degli Incamminati" (Academy of the "newly embarked", or progressives), led by Lodovico Carracci. They went on to form the nucleus of a prolific and successful school of Bolognese painters who followed Annibale Carracci to Rome. Like many other Bolognese painters, Reni's painting was thematic and eclectic in style.

Work in Rome

By late 1601, Reni and Albani had moved to Rome ["Guido Reni: A Review Reviewed",Stephen D. Pepper; Richard E. Spear. The Burlington Magazine (1990)132(10): p219-223.] to work with the teams led by Annibale Carracci in fresco decoration of the Farnese Palace. During 1601-1604, his main patron was cardinal Sfondrato. By 1604-1605, he received an independent commission for an altarpiece of the "Crucifixion of St. Peter". After a few year sojourn in Bologna, he returned to Rome to become one of the premier painters during the papacy of Paul V (Borghese). From 1607-1614, he was one of the painters patronized by Borghese.Reni's frescoed ceiling of the large central hall of garden palace, "Casino dell'Aurora" located in the grounds of the Palazzo Pallavicini-Rospigliosi, is considered his masterpiece. The casino was originally a pavilion commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese [ [ Casino dell'Aurora Pallavicini. Conference center - Rome, Italy ] ] ; the rear portion overlooks the Piazza Montecavallo and Palazzo del Quirinale [ [,12.487523&spn=0.005007,0.01339 Google Maps ] ] . The massive fresco is framed "in quadri riportati" and depicts "Apollo in his Chariot preceded by Dawn (Aurora) bringing light to the world" [ [ Aurora by RENI, Guido ] ] . The work is restrained in classicism, copying poses from Roman Sarcophagi, and showing far more simplicity and restraint than Carracci's riotous "Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne" [ [ Image Files-Frescos ] ] in the Farnese. Reni in this painting is allies himself more with the sterner Cavaliere d'Arpino,Lanfranco, and Albani "School" of mytho-historic painting, and less with the more crowded frescoes characteristic of Pietro da Cortona. There is little concession to perspective, and the vibrantly colored style is antithetical to the tenebrism of Caravaggio's followers. Payments showed that he was paid in 247 scudi and 54 baiocchi upon completion on 24 September 1616.

He also frescoed in Paoline Chapel of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome as well as the Aldobrandini wings of the Vatican. According to rumor, the pontifical chapel of Montecavallo (Chapel of the Annuciation) was assigned to Reni to paint. However, because he felt underpaid by the ministers, the artist left for Bologna, leaving the role of the preeminent artist in Rome to Domenichino.

Work in Naples and return to Bologna

In later years, Reni traveled to Naples to complete a commission to paint a ceiling in a chapel of the "San Gennaro". However, in Naples, the other local prominent painters, including Corenzio, Caracciolo and Ribera, were vehemently resistant to competitors, and according to rumor, conspired to poison or otherwise harm Reni (as may have befallen Domenichino in Naples after him). He passed briefly by Rome, but left that city abruptly, during the pontificate of Urban VIII, after being reprimanded by Cardinal Spinola.

Returning to Bologna, more or less permanently, Reni established a successful and prolific studio.He was commissioned to decorate the cupola of the chapel of Saint Dominic in the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna, between 1613 and 1615, resulting in the radiant fresco "St Dominic's Glory", a masterpiece that can stand the comparison with the exquisite Arca di San Domenico below. He also contributed to the decoration of the Rosary Chapel in the same church with the "Resurrection".

In Ravenna, he painted the chapel in the cathedral with his admired picture of the "Israelites gathering Manna". Reni, after departing Rome, alternately painted in a variety of styles, true to the eclectic tastes of many of Carracci trainees. For example, his altarpiece for "Samson Victorious" formulates stylized poses characteristic of mannerism [ [] Dead link|date=March 2008] . In contrast his Crucifixion and his "Atlanta and Hipomenes" [] depict dramatic diagonal movement coupled with the effects of light and shade that betray the influence of Caravaggio. His turbulent and violent "Massacre of the Innocents" (Pinacoteca, Bologna) is painted in a manner reminiscent of Raphael. In 1625 Prince Władysław Sigismund Vasa of Poland visited the artist workshop in Bologna during his voyage to Western icon cite web |author= |url= |title= Kunstkammer of Władysław Vasa |work= kunstkammer_painting.html |publisher= |pages= |page= |date= |accessdate=2008-08-27] The close rapport between the painter and the Polish Prince resulted in the acquisitions of drawings and paintings. In 1630, he painted the "Pallion del Voto" with images of St. Ignatius and Francis Xavier, painted during the plague of 1630 that attacked Bologna.

His most distinguished pupil was Simone Cantarini, named "Il Pesarese"; he painted a portrait of his master, now in the Bolognese Gallery. Other trainees were Domenico Maria Canuti and Giovanni Battista Michelini. The Uffizi Gallery holds a self-portrait. Other pupils were Giacomo Semenza, Francesco Gessi, and Marco Bandinelli. His themes are mostly biblical and mythological in subject. He painted few portraits; those of Sixtus V, Bernardino Cardinal Spada, and the so‑called Beatrice Cenci are among the most noticeable. The identity of the Cenci portrait is very doubtful, since Beatrice Cenci was executed in Rome before Reni ever lived there and so could not have sat for the portrait. Many etchings are attributed to Guido Reni, some after his own paintings and some after other masters. They are spirited, in a light style of delicate lines and dots. Reni's technique was used by the Bolognese school and was the standard for Italian printmakers of his time. [ [ printmaking :: Italy - Britannica Online Encyclopedia ] ]

Reni died in Bologna in 1642.

He is buried with Elisabetta Sirani in the Rosary Chapel of the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna.

Partial anthology of works

*"Self-Portrait, Whitfield Fine Art [] "
*"Callisto and Diana"
*"Crucifixion of St Peter", Vatican, Rome
*"Christ Crucified", San Lorenzo in Lucina, Rome
*"Holy Trinity", Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, Rome
*"Conception", Forlì
*"Alms of St. Roch", Bologna
*"Massacre of the Innocents", Bologna
*"Pietà", Bologna
*"Penitent Magdalene" ca. 1635, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore []
*"Lament over the Body of Christ", Chiesa dei Mendicanti, Bologna
*"Ecce Homo", Gemaldegälerie, Dresden
*"Saints Peter and Paul", Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
*"Assumption of the Virgin", Sant'Ambrogio, Genoa
*"St. Paul the Hermit and St. Anthony in the Wilderness", Berlin
*"Fortune", Capitol
*"Samson Drinking from the Jawbone of an Ass"
*"Ariadne" Capitoline Museums
*"Atlanta and Hippomenes" 1612 Prado, Madrid []
*"Atlanta and Hippomenes" 1622-25 Capodimonte, Naples []
*"Madonna del Rosario", Pinacoteca, Bologna
*"The Labors of Hercules", Louvre,
*"The Suicide of Lucrezia" ca. 1625-40 São Paulo Art Museum, São Paulo
*"Lucrezia and Cleopatra", Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome
*"San Sebastiano", Pinacoteca, Bologna
*"Saint Sebastian", Dulwich Picture Gallery; other versions are in the collections of the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum in the UK, the Palazzo Rosso in Rome, the Capitoline Museum, the Louvre and at least 7 other known originals and multiple copies such as at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
*"Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness", Dulwich Picture Gallery
*"Adoration of the Magi", Certosa di San Martino, Naples
*"Judith", Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama, United States

The Louvre contains twenty of his pictures, the National Gallery of London seven, and others once there have now been removed to other public collections. The most interesting of the seven is the small "Coronation of the Virgin", painted on copper. It was probably painted before the master left Bologna for Rome.



* Cavalli, Gian Carlo (ed.)"Guido Reni" exh. cat. Bologna 1954
* Pepper, Stephen, "Guido Reni", Oxford 1984
* "Guido Reni 1575-1642" (exhibition catalogue Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna; Los Angeles County Museum of art; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth) Bologna 1988
* Spear, Richard, " The 'Divine' Guido: Religion, Sex, Money, and Art in the World of Guido Reni", New Haven and London, 1997
* Hansen, Morten Steen and Joaneath Spicer, eds., "Masterpieces of Italian Painting, The Walters Art Museum", Baltimore and London, 2005
* "Printmaking". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 29 March 2007


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