Restoring a Masterwork II: Guercino's Erminia and the Shepherds
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The Restoration
Daily Log
Condition Report
What's Wrong?
Treatment Steps
IR and UV Photography
Anatomy of a Painting
The Painting
General Overview
Jerusalem Delivered
The Commission
The Artist
The Engraving
Painting and Engraving

The Artist - Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri)

In his lifetime, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri was known as "Guercino," or "squinter." Born in Cento, in the Northern Italian province of Emilia, Guercino received his early training in Bologna at the Carracci Academy. After studying the work of his contemporaries, Guercino eventually forged his own style - a fusion of Bolognese naturalism, Roman classicism, and Venetian colorism. Between 1621 and 1623 Guercino worked in Rome for the newly elected Pope Gregory XV, a former Bolognese cardinal. There, he executed numerous commissions, including the fresco cycle for the Sala dell'Aurora at the Ludovisi, a private retreat belonging to the papal family.

After Pope Gregory XV died in 1623, Guercino returned to his native Emilia. In 1642, he moved to Bologna, where he became the undisputed leader of the Bolognese school, and enjoyed an international reputation until his death. Guercino executed the Institute’s Erminia and the Shepherds in 1648, one of two versions he produced for prominent patrons, and an excellent example of Guercino’s mature style.

Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri)

Born on February 2 in Cento, Italy, and baptized Giovanni Francesco Barbieri on February 8. Later nicknamed Guercino (meaning "squinter") because of a noticeable eye abnormality.

At nine years of age, learns rudiments of painting from the architectural perspective painter Paolo Zagnoni.

Receives his first independent commission for an altarpiece in Cento.

Opens a drawing academy in Cento.

In Bologna, works with Ludovico and Agostino Carracci.

Travels to Venice.

Departs for Rome, where he remains for two years. Working for Pope Gregory XV, receives commission for The Burial of Saint Petronilla in St. Peter's Basilica.

King Charles I of England commissions two paintings and requests that Guercino move to London to serve as court painter. Guercino completes the paintings but declines the offer.

Begins his account book, the Libro dei conti, as a record of his commissions.

Following the death of Guido Reni, moves to Bologna and succeeds Reni as the leading painter there.

Purchases a house in Bologna.

Begins first version of Erminia and the Shepherds in the summer; begins the Minneapolis version by autumn. Works on both paintings simultaneously, completing them by January 1649.

Queen Christina of Sweden visits Guercino in his studio.

Commissioned by one of his principal patrons, the Sicilian collector Don Antonio Ruffo, to paint a companion piece (now lost) for Rembrandt's Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer (now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

Dies on December 22. Buried in the church of San Salvatore, Bologna.

Guercino, Self Portrait c. 1624-26
Oil on Canvas
Collection of Richard Feigen