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Guido Reni

1575 - 1642

Place Born

Bologna

Place Died

Bologna

Bio

Guido was a pupil, together with Albani and Domenichino, of the Fleming, Denys Calvaert, until his conversion to the manner of the Carracci in 1595, when he joined the Academy. His earliest important commissions for altarpieces in the churches of Bologna date from between 1595 and 1598. In 1598 he won the competition for a painted memorial to celebrate Clement VIII’s presence in Bologna, an achievement that focused attention on him. In December 1599, he was elected to the Consiglio della Congregazione dei Pittori and thereafter his career was divided between Bologna and Rome. In 1601, Reni travelled to Rome. where he was influenced to some extent by the naturalism of Caravaggio (who is said to have threatened to kill him). His own style, best seen in the Aurora of 1613-14 in the Casino Rospigliosi, Rome, depends much more on the Raphaelesque classicism of the Carracci Academy. He was probably back in Bologna by January, 1603, when a memorial service was held there for Agostino Carracci and Reni engraved the funerary decorations displayed.

In 1608, Paul V (formerly Cardinal Camillo Borghese), commissioned him to fresco three scenes from the Life of Samson for the Sala delle Nozze Aldobrandini and three scenes of the Mystery of the Faith for the Sala delle Dame, all in the Vatican Palace and executed in 1608-9. Reni’s activity in the Papal circle was supported by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who took the painter into his service in October 1609. He executed the frescoes in the Chapel of S. Andrea, adjacent to S. Gregorio Magno, for the Cardinal in 1609. In 1610, he was working for Paul V in the Cappella dell’Annunziata in the Palazzo del Quirinale, with Francesco Albani and Giovanni Lanfranco among his assistants. In 1611-12 Reni executed frescoes in the lunettes of the Cappella Paolina, Santa Maria Maggiore. Later, in 1615, in Bologna he completed the frescoes begun earlier at S. Domenico. By 1617 he completed his altarpiece of The Assumption, for Genoa, a work that was much acclaimed before it left Bologna.

Reni’s contact with the Gonzaga court in Mantua between 1617 and 1621 resulted in a series of Hercules subjects for the Duke. In 1621 he travelled to Naples to paint in the cathedral there, but he left abruptly for Rome because of the hostility of the local artists. He was in Rome yet again in 1627 and probably also in 1632. He passed the rest of his life, fully occupied with commissions, in Bologna. Reni’s work was very famous during his lifetime and later, but it was subjected to adverse criticism in the nineteenth century (especially through Ruskin’s attacks). Reni’s own concept of art and of the artist’s place was lofty. In his devotion to ‘ideal’ beauty and his poetic reworking of many classical subjects there is perhaps some nostalgia for the Renaissance.

Available Art Works

A Portrait of Cardinal Camillo Borghese

Work Available
Historical Period: 1600-1720 Baroque
A Portrait of Cardinal Camillo Borghese

Art Works Sold

Martyrdom of St Appolonia

Sold or not Available
Historical Period: 1600-1720 Baroque
Martyrdom of St Appolonia
St. Francis Adoring the Cross

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Historical Period: 1600-1720 Baroque
St. Francis Adoring the Cross
The Country Dance

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Historical Period: 1600-1720 Baroque
The Country Dance