Girolamo da Carpi

Sophisticated Mannerist Court Painter

Landscape with Magicians, by Carpi

Girolamo da Carpi (1501–56) was an important Mannerist painter, influenced by Dosso Dossi, Giulio Romano and Parmigianino, and a keen student of Roman antiquities. He started his career in Ferrara, possibly as an apprentice to Il Garofalo. Carpi is a somewhat neglected artist; there's a bit of an edge in his work that is lacking in many of his contemporaries, some quirk in the subject matter or the composition or a detail that arrests the viewer's attention. He was also a first-rate portraitist.

He was in Bologna in the 1520s and left two paintings in the city (the Adoration of the Magi in San Martino and frescoes in San Michele in Bosco, before heading to Rome. Carpi spent the rest of his career alternating between Rome and Ferrara. He was a big man in Rome, where he worked for Pope Julius III as an architect redesigning the Villa Belvedere, and conducted the excavations of Hadrian's Villa, which greatly increased his appreciation and knowledge of classical antiquity. His sketchbooks of the finds there are famous.

In Ferrara, he was in charge of embellishing the Este court, including frescoes, stage sets, and easel paintings, and he also worked as an architect, designing several Ferrarese palaces and estates, and restoring the Este Palace after a fire.

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