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Agostino Carracci

Inventor of the cariacture

Agostino Carracci, Self portrait as a watchmaker

Agostino Carracci (1557–1602), older brother of Annibale, was the more academic of the two. He trained in the workshop of architect Domenico Tibaldi, and in the 1570s he travelled to Venice and Parma, making engravings of masterpieces, as well as a series of unsigned erotic prints. At the Carracci's Accademia degli Incamminati, he taught aspiring artists mathematics, history, science, mythology and other subject to inspire their pupils' invention. He made detailed anatomical drawings as a teaching aid that were engraved and used by artists for centuries.

Agostino is credited with inventing the caricature. The Carracci were so passionate about art that they would sit around the dining table, bread in one hand and pencil in the other, often sketching each other or people they had seen that day in the street, often exaggerating certain features for comic effect. The oldest surviving one is by Agostino.

Besides the frescoes in the Palazzo Fava and Palazzo Magnani painted with Annibale and their cousin Ludovico, Agostino painted the Communion of St Jerome in the Pinacoteca. He went to Rome to assist Annibale at the Palazzo Farnese but there was a falling out in 1600 and he returned to Bologna. He was commissioned to fresco another Farnese palace in Parma when he suddenly died.

Agostino was the only Carracci to have any children, an illegitimate son born in Venice named Antonio, who was also a painter and trained with his father before going to Rome to help his uncle Annibale; his Rape of Europa is in Bologna's Pinacoteca.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: PD Art