Dead Christ with two angels by Guercino

Dead Christ with two angels by Guercino
Dead Christ with two angels by Guercino

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (1591 – 1666) has gone down in history as Il Guercino, that is, “the cross-eyed” because obviously to his strabismus in the eyes. A characteristic that did not prevent him from developing his pictorial career and achieving great recognition in his time, both inItalyand in other places inEurope.


Dead Christ with two angels by Guercino

His referents were the two Italian schools that gave rise toBaroque painting. On the one hand, he studied and learned a lot about the art of the Carracci brothers inBologna, a city very close to his origin. And on the other he also discovered the art ofCaravaggio. So in his works you can see elements of Bolognese classicism and the chiaroscuro typical of Caravaggio's paintings. Although he contributed his own personal notes, giving a great lyricism to all that fusion.

And he achieved all this in a self-taught way, practicing a lot and even learning while he dedicated himself to teaching in a peculiar Nude Academy that he founded. This small work is indebted to that phase, which is an oil painting on a copper plate (37 x 44 cm). A piece currently kept by the National Gallery in London.

Without a doubt, the representation of the dead Jesus is the result of many studies and sketches made from life and with a model in front of him. That in terms of form andposture, but what is truly valuable is his mastery of color and the gradations, shadows and brightness that he is capable of generating.

For example, let's look at the two angels, one dressed in red and one in blue. These tones blend with the sky and mix with the earth color to create ash, violet and ocher tones. A whole riot of colors that make Christ's naked and shiny body stand out even more, occupying the left area of ​​the image.

It's a brilliant work, done at an early stage between 1617 and 1618. In fact, when he left Bologna for Rome he would take it with him. Although the truth is that as time passed in the city of the Popes, his style was losing those subtle games of light and shadow, as well as losing naturalness and risk in postures. After all, he had stiff competition with other artists in Rome, so he adapted to the conditions of the art market and gained in classicism.

However, after that Roman period that served him to learn and gain a lot of prestige, he decided to return to his native region and there he was able to demonstrate all his art by making numerous easel works, commissioned by medium-sized clients. Europe. And even he was required in the courts of England or France, but he refused those offers, and from Cento, his town, and from Bologna, he did some of his best works.

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