The Carracci and Venice: Annibale Carracci's Stylistic Response to Venetian Art, and the Intermediate Roles of Ludovico and Agostino Carraccci
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It has always been acknowledged that Venetian art was one of the components from which Annibale Carracci formed his painting style. There is little documentary evidence concerning Annibale’s career and no Venetian sources to inform us of his contact with Venice. Taking his art as the primary source, this study examines the timing and nature of Annibale’s contact with Venetian art and artists. It also investigates the works of his brother Agostino and his cousin Ludovico to discover their roles in directing Annibale towards Venetian art and communicating its qualities to him. The working method used is comparative analysis between Annibale’s art and key paintings he could have seen in Venice and North Italian collections. Sources such as the early biographies and the marginal comments in the Carracci’s copy of Vasari’s Vite supplement the primary artistic evidence. This study compiles and critically engages with analyses from previous scholarship. The thesis investigates the role of prints in the early orientation of the Carracci in Bologna, particularly those reproducing Titian’s work, and how these affected Annibale’s ideas about composition and the representation of figures and landscape. It reconsiders Agostino’s role as an engraver of Venetian paintings in transmitting ideas about Venetian art to Annibale. The Carracci practice of copying other artists is reviewed with a scenario tendered to explain why Annibale copied Correggio and Titian, but not Bassano, Veronese, or Tintoretto. Annibale’s and Agostino’s early adoption of drawing and painting techniques are investigated, as is Ludovico’s later technical experiments. Annibale’s travels in northern Italy as suggested by his annotations in Vasari’s Vite are explored in terms of which paintings he could have seen there and how this experience may be reflected in his art. The most highly Venetianizing period of all three Carracci, from about 1587 to its zenith in 1592, is refined. Annibale’s study of Venetian art is shown to have been more involved than suggested by previous scholars. Together with his observation of nature, accomplished draughtsmanship and his study of Correggio, Venetian art informed his mature style before he relocated to Rome.