Annibale Carracci 1596–7.
4.8×9.4m Private Room of Cardinal Oduardo Farnese.
Palazzo Farnese, Rome.
When Annibale Carracci came to Rome in the 1590s, he was offered to live in the Palazzo Farnese. While there he received the commission to paint the ceiling of Cardinal Oduardo Farnese’s private study room. The paintings in this room served educational purposes about morals to the young cardinal.
This room contains fictive reliefs and gilt stucco and ornament. The paintings on the ceiling are quadri riportati (i.e. paintings repositioned, canvas or panel placed onto the ceiling). Among the several Hercules paintings are Hercules Resting from his Labours, Hercules Bearing the Globe, and Hercules at the Crossroads.
Choice of Hercules
Annibale Carracci 1596-1597.
93 x 65” Oil on canvas.
For Camerino Farnese, now in Museo e Gallerie Nazionali di Capodimonte, Naples.
This quadri riportati in the Camerino Farnese shows a classical Hercules in a landscape. The landscape, split in half, echoes the two choices he is faced with: virtue and vice. Each figure in this piece is monumental and on the same plane, mimicking Classical relief. Carracci was perhaps inspired by a sculpture in the Palazzo Farnese. Other influences include Raphael (seen in the grazie of the figures) and Michelangelo (seen in the heroic qualities of Hercules).
Hercules is on the center axis while the two allegories pivot around him. Vice has her back to us in somewhat of a serpentinata posture, while Virtue twists toward Hercules. Each gestures to each respective side, attempting to entice the young hero.
Carracci used landscape to express what each allegory had to offer. Vice is shown as a voluptuous woman in an exciting, bright setting. Two theater masks can be seen in the foreground along with other forms of entertainment. Virtue seemingly has little to offer but a dreary looking landscape.
C. van Tuyll van Serooskerken, et al. “Carracci.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. 23 Feb. 2011 <http://www.oxfordartonline.com.libproxy.temple.edu/subscriber/article/grove/art/T014340pg3>.