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Farnese Gallery

February 24, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farnese Gallery

Annibale Carracci 1597-1601.

Palazzo Farnese, Rome.

The Farnese commissioned Annibale Carracci to paint a long narrow gallery, larger than the Camerino Farnese.  The theme of the art in this room is the Loves of the Gods.  Because the Farnese were avid antique collectors, Carracci had ample Classical examples to draw from.  His fresco and quadri riportati compositions are much more Classical than any of his other work.

The painting of this room was a large scale project that Annibale Carrcci executed mostly by himself.  Ludovico Carracci helped him out in the beginning, but not for long (Serooskerken).  Annibale planned each day’s work in numerous preparatory drawings as well as careful designations of the seams between giornate. The frescoes have a brighter palette due to their medium.

Like many other rooms and ceilings before this (i.e. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling and Raphael’s Vatican Loggia), the decoration features numerous compartments for paintings in fresco, quadri riportati, illusionistic architecture, and fictive reliefs.  Several frames around paintings appear to be of white stucco, others look like gilded wood.  Inspired by Michelangelo’s ignudi from the Sistine Ceiling, Carracci incorporated Atlas-like figures to “hold up” the cornices around the top of the walls.  Some appeared to be made of marble, some were painted to have life-like flesh.

Unlike Andrea Mantegna’s Camera degli Sposi ceiling (1473, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua, right), Annibale Carracci placed his paintings along the walls and ceilings so that the viewer must orient his body to read the composition.  Mantegna painted his ceiling di sotto in su, that is, when the viewer looks up at it, it appears to be what he would actually see if looking at the scene where it is positioned in a real scenario.  The figures are extremely foreshortened (scorcio), and are looking down on the viewer.  Correggio also used this technique, so it is surprising that Carracci did not adapt this illusionism.  Instead, Carracci’s Farnese walls mimic those of the Sistine Chapel, in which both side can be seen just fine from below while mirroring each other.  Contrary, the images on the ceiling can only be read from a certain position (a ninety degree difference from Michelangelo’s ceiling narratives).

C. van Tuyll van Serooskerken, et al. “Carracci.” Grove Art OnlineOxford Art Online. 24 Feb. 2011 <http://www.oxfordartonline.com.libproxy.temple.edu/subscriber/article/grove/art/T014340pg3&gt;.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Triumph of Bacchus

Annibale Carracci 1597-1601.

Fresco.

Farnese Gallery, Palazzo Farnese, Rome.

The Farnese Gallery had a coved barrel vault, which had an ideal apex for placing a quadri riportati.  The centerpiece for Carracci’s Loves of the Gods cycle was a scene from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne. This painting was positioned length-wise along the gallery ceiling.

The composition of Triumph of Bacchus is very classical.  It is procession-like in that the figures move from the left to the right.  However, framing figures at each corner not only complement each other, but their alternate positions (bodies facing away from each other, one facing us, the other with his back to us) circulate the movement of the composition back into itself.  Carracci had examples of ancient Roman sarcophagi to look at not only for relief-like composition but also iconography of Bacchus (Serooskerken).

However, one does not read one plane of figures at a time.  There is also a Baroque sense of depth to this piece.  The eye zig zags through the multiple planes of figures to the distant background, noting an x-shaped composition along the way.  This movement through the composition seems to mimic the movement one would walk about this gallery, taking in the pieces of art as he paces back and forth in the narrow hall.

C. van Tuyll van Serooskerken, et al. “Carracci.” Grove Art OnlineOxford Art Online. 24 Feb. 2011 <http://www.oxfordartonline.com.libproxy.temple.edu/subscriber/article/grove/art/T014340pg3&gt;.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polyphemus Furioso

Annibale Carracci 1598-1601.

Fresco.

Farnese Gallery, Palazzo Farnese, Rome.

This is another fresco on the ceiling of the Farnese Gallery by Annibale Carracci.  It depicts and angry Hercules.  Annibale no doubt drew from Classical sculpture to paint this raging hero.  The virtusoso of Michelangesque figures can be seen in his demeanor.

There is a tension between the few characters in this particular scene.  Hercules reaches toward the viewer, heaving a large stone. Carracci painted Hercules mid-action, foreshadowing of Bernini’s David. Contrary, the figure behind Hercules, perhaps much farther away, or just smaller in size than Hercules, runs away.  This painting is towards the end of the fresco cycle, near a door in the Gallery, thus the movement within the piece extends outside the frame.

Carracci’s monumental figure of Hercules fills the entire space, as opposed to the smaller figures of Triumph of Bacchus.  Both pieces are classical in style and composition, but one emulates relief, whereas the other emphasizes its sculptural influence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polyphemus Innamorato

Annibale Carracci 1598-1601.

Fresco.

Farnese Gallery, Palazzo Farnese, Rome.

Like the Polyphemus Furioso, Carracci modeled the main figure of this fresco after sculpture in the Farnese collection.  Guests at the Gallery would have recognized the quotations, strengthening the ties between the Farnese and these Classical and contemporary pieces of art.

Contrary to the other fresco of Hercules, the giant hero in this composition is passive and relaxed.  Although wearing just as much clothing (or lack thereof) as in the Furioso, Hercules’s pose makes him appear more exposed and vulnerable – perhaps to the temptations or consequences of love?  His body leans back, opposite from his tight, contracted pose in the Furioso.

The woman in the background indirectly quotes Raphael’s Galatea.  She has similar flowing red drapery to Raphael’s heroine and is even escorted into the scene on dolphins – the symbol of lust.  She too is in a reclined position that is opposite from the pose Raphael painted her in.  In this way, she mirrors Hercules.  The two form strong diagonals within the composition.

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