Carracci. I. Ludovico, the founder of the Bolognese school of painting, born in Bologna in 1555, died there in 1619. His first master, Prospero Fontana, a Bolognese painter, so little appreciated his capacity that he advised him to adopt some other profession. His slowness of execution was so remarkable that his fellow pupils called him in ridicule the ox. From Bologna he went to Venice, and studied with Tintoretto. Subsequently he visited Florence and Parma, where he gave much attention to the works of Andrea del Sarto, Correggio, and Parmigiano. The object of these varied studies was presently developed in the establishment of his school of painting, known as the eclectic school of Bologna. In this project he secured the assistance of his cousins Agostino and Annibale, who joined him in Bologna about 1585. In a few years their school was overflowing with pupils, and all the others in Bologna closed. As the head of the academy, Ludovico resided chiefly at Bologna; and his merit is more that of a teacher than of a productive artist.
He has left many works at Bologna, including his fresco paintings in the pa-lazzi Magnani and Zampieri; his series of scenes from the history of St. Benedict and St. Cecilia, in the convent of St. Michael at Bosco; an "Assumption of the Blessed Virgin," one of his best works; and the "Birth of St. John the Baptist." He also painted many "Ecce Homos" and "Pietas." II. Agostino, cousin of the preceding, born at Bologna in 1558, died in 1601. He was the son of a tailor, was instructed in the goldsmith's art, and afterward became an engraver. At the invitation of Ludovico he embarked in his project for founding a new school of art in Bologna, but first went through a course of studies at Bologna, Rome, Parma, and Venice. To Agostino were assigned the most important and laborious duties. He prepared treatises on architecture and perspective, lectured on anatomy, and suggested subjects for composition, drawn from history or fiction. He also proposed and awarded prizes for designs, celebrating the victor's triumph with music and song.
His early predilection for engraving never forsook him, and, although his designs were numerous, he finished fewer paintings than either of the other Carracci. Among the best specimens of his paintings are "St. Jerome receiving the Sacrament before Death," at Bologna, and the "Infant Hercules strangling the Serpents," in the Louvre. III. Annibale, brother of the preceding, born in Bologna in 1560, died in Rome in 1609. He was at first a tailor, but was instructed in painting by Ludovico, and afterward sent to Parma and Venice, where he devoted years to the works of Correggio and the great Venetian colorists. His style was founded on the eclectic principle adopted by Ludovico. He was an industrious painter, and the works of this period of his life are numerous. His contributions to the palazzi Magnani and Zampieri in Bologna, in which he assisted Ludovico, were highly esteemed. In 1600, by the invitation of Cardinal Farnese, he visited Rome, where, under the influence of Raphael and Michel Angelo, his style developed itself in a new form. He was employed to paint for various churches in Rome, but his chief work is the series of frescoes of mythological designs in the Farnese palace, and particularly in the gallery, which occupied him eight vears.
At the commencement of this work he was assisted by Agostino; but the intercourse between the brothers, when they were not under the influence of Ludovico, was always liable to be interrupted by jealousies and disputes, and Annibale was soon left to labor alone. When the work was at length completed, the artist received only 500 crowns. Irritated by this parsimony, and enfeebled in health by long confinement, he repaired to Naples. The persecutions of the Neapolitan artists obliged him to return to Rome, where he died soon afterward. Besides the contributions to the Farnese palace, which have been frequently engraved, "St. Roch distributing Alms," in the Dresden Gallery, a "Dead Christ supported by the Madonna," the "Resurrection," at Bologna, and the "Three Marys" in the collection at Castle Howard, are among his most celebrated works. He was one of the first to practise landscape painting as a separate department of art. IV. Francesco, brother of the preceding, born at Bologna in 1595, died in Rome in 1622. He studied painting with Ludovico, and attempted to establish a rival school in Bologna, over the door of which he caused to be inscribed "This is the true school of the Carracci." The project failed.