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Baroque Art and Architecture

The silent Madonna, by Annibale Carracci

In the late 16th century, Bologna emerged from artistic obscurity to become a cradle of reaction against the exaggerations of late-Renaissance Mannerism (not many local examples have survived, but think of the exquisite, swan-necked creatures of Parmigianino). The fight was led by the Carracci: brothers Annibale and Agostino and cousin Ludovico, who started off together frescoing palaces, and in the 1580s founded a school of painting with the startlingly inaccurate name of the Accademia degli Incamminati (‘the progressives’).

Their success was not necessarily due to any change in Italian tastes. The Council of Trent, which concluded its reform of the Church in 1563, decreed that religious art was to fall under the close supervision of the clergy, and clear rules were set down for it. Painting and sculpture must be simple and intelligible, realistic, and filled with emotional appeal to encourage piety.

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Francesco Albani

A Fashionable Painter

Alessandro Algardi

Rival of Bernini

Floriano Ambrosini

Architect and Engineer

Baroque Gone Bad

Small Fun in the Big Museum


Family of Baroque Stage Designers

Francesco Brizio

A Neglected Artist

Domenico Maria Canuti

Ceiling Illusionist

The Carracci

Baroque Beginnings

Agostino Carracci

Inventor of the cariacture

Annibale Carracci

Bologna's Baroque All Star

Ludovico Carracci

Cousin of Annibale

Bartolomeo Cesi

Late Mannerist, Early Baroque painter

Carlo Cignani

A Breath of Fresh Air

Angelo Michele Colonna

Prince of Optical Illusions

Giuseppe Maria Crespi

The inimitable 'Lo Spagnuolo'

Donato Creti

Rococo Academian

Girolamo Curti

'Big Tooth'


Supreme Classicist

Carlo Francesco Dotti

Architect of San Luca

Lavinia Fontana

First Woman to Paint a Female Nude

Marcantonio Franceschini

Hard-working Fresco Man

Gaetano Gandolfi

Tiepolo-inspired Late Baroque painter


Squint-eyed Baroque Master

Lodovico Lana

Painter for the Este, but not the Best

Lucio Massari

Bolognese Bore


A Baroque Original

Agostino Mitelli

Mr. Quadratura

Giuseppe Maria Mitelli

Bologna's Baroque Cartoonist

Oratorio San Filippo Neri

Now used for concerts

Oratorio di San Rocco

Now a Concert Hall

Palazzo Albergati at Zola Predosa

Sunday Brunch and Other Events

Palazzo Ducale (Modena)

Home of the Este Dukes

Palazzo Fava

Now the Palazzo delle Esposizioni

Palazzo dei Giganti (Davia-Bargellini)

And its Two Museums

Palazzo Magnani

A Bank Frescoed by the Carracci

Pinacoteca Nazionale

The Good, the Great and the Bland

Porta Galliera

Gate to a Long-Gone Fort

Guido Reni

The Divine Guido

San Barnabá (Modena)

A Ceiling to Remember

San Bartolomeo (Modena)

Jesuit theatricality

San Biagio (Modena)

Mattia Preti in Modena

San Carlo (Modena)

A Baroque University

San Domenico

Treasurehouse of Art

San Domenico (Modena)

A Touch of Rococo

San Giorgio (Modena)

Church as Theatre

Santuario della Madonna di San Luca

The Church on the Hill

San Niccolò degli Albari

Petite, and Often Forgotten

San Paolo Maggiore

With a Masterpiece by Alessandro Algardi

San Pietro

Bologna's Half-Forgotten Cathedral

San Vincenzo (Modena)

Unluckiest Church in Modena

Santa Maria della Vita

The 'Scream in Stone'

Santi Bartolomeo e Gaetano

Theatine Theatricality

Santissimo Salvatore

Where English Students Came to Pray

Santuario di Fiorano

Suburban Sanctuary

Bartolomeo Schedoni

Pupil of Annibale Carracci

Leonello Spada

'Caravaggio's Ape'

Alessandro Tiarini

Big Baroque Gestures

Gaspare and Carlo Vigarani

Sorcerers of the Stage

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by PD Art