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Indepth Arts News:

"The Drawings of Annibale Carracci"
1999-09-26 until 2000-01-09
National Gallery of Art
Washington, DC, USA United States of America

he first exhibition devoted solely to the powerful and evocative drawings of Annibale Carracci (1560-1609), widely regarded as one of the world's finest draftsmen, is on view at the National Gallery of Art, 26 September 1999 - 9 January 2000. Ninety-five of the artist's best works--many never before seen in the United States--are presented, including grand compositions, figure studies, landscapes, genre scenes, and quick jottings. It is the first monographic exhibition of Annibale's work, which has previously been shown only with that of his brother Agostino and his cousin Ludovico, with whom he worked closely.

The exhibition is made possible by Republic National Bank of New York, and Safra Republic Holdings S.A., Luxembourg.

Annibale Carracci is justly celebrated for his naturalism and ability to bring the human figure to life on the page, said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. We are grateful to Republic National Bank and to the many lenders who have enabled us to bring to our nationís capital the exquisite drawings of this master, who so brilliantly bridged the High Renaissance and the baroque.

From his earliest years, Annibale Carracci set down his thoughts rapidly and constantly on paper. Annibale, together with his brother and cousin, founded an art academy--one of the first of its kind and the acknowledged prototype for those that followed throughout Europe--in which special emphasis was given to drawing, especially drawing from the live model. A full range of Annibale's magnificent studies of the human figure is included in the exhibition, from his early Bolognese works executed in red chalk in the 1580s to those in black and white chalk on blue paper made in the late 1590s in preparation for his masterpiece, the decoration of the Farnese Gallery in Rome.

A key innovation of Annibale's art was his insistence on nature and reality as the basis of his style. He rejected the artificialities and elegant deformations of Italian mannerism, which was then in fashion, and drew inspiration from the real people and places of his own world. He also studied closely the classical forms of ancient sculpture and absorbed the lessons of High Renaissance masters like Michelangelo, Correggio, and Titian, and came to be admired as Raphael reborn. Even in Annibale's grandest paintings of gods and saints, the figures, gestures, and expressions are based in the same reality as the studies he made of ordinary people in their daily life.

The exhibition includes many drawings made by Annibale in preparation for paintings, prints, and objets d'art. Several studies showcase the systematic preparatory process by which Annibale developed his compositions: from broad pen sketches to monumental chalk studies of the individual figures to final model drawings and full-scale cartoons. The development of this orderly yet vital progression of studies is considered one of Annibale's most influential contributions to the practice of painting.

The most dramatic example of this preparatory process can be seen in studies for Annibale's decoration of the ceiling of the Farnese Gallery, Rome (1597-1601). The centerpiece of that group is the spectacular full-scale, eleven-foot-square cartoon for the right half of the painting in the center of the ceiling, The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne. The cartoon has never before been exhibited outside its home museum, the Museo Nazionale delle Marche, in Urbino, Italy.

The exhibition has been selected and catalogued by an international team of Carracci experts: Daniele Benati of the University of Udine; Gail Feigenbaum of the New Orleans Museum of Art; Kate Ganz, an independent scholar who first conceived the idea for the exhibition; Catherine Loisel Legrand of the Louvre; and Carel van Tuyll van Serooskerken of the Teylers Museum. The National Gallery's coordinating curator is Margaret Morgan Grasselli, curator of old master drawings. A fully illustrated catalogue written by the members of the organizing committee presents new scholarly research in the study of Annibale Carracci's drawings. The introductory essay was written by Diane De Grazia of the Cleveland Museum of Art. A softcover catalogue is available for $39.95 in the Gallery Shops. To order by phone, call (301) 322-5900 or (800) 697-9350. Additional support has been provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and The Circle of the National Gallery of Art. The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington. It is also supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

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