Annibale CARRACCI (Bologna, 1560 – Rome, 1609)

Landscape with a Tree in Center Foregraound and a Shepherd with his Herd

20.2 x 27.3 cm. (7 1516 x 10 ¾ in.)
Pen and brown ink on beige paper

Provenance:
Collection Max Aaron Goldstein (1870-1941)1
An old inscription on the verso presents the drawing as Annibale Carraci
Private collection

Lodovico’s cousin and Agostino’s brother, Annibale Carracci remains a major figure in 16th century Bolognese painting. Annibale, in fact, would be the only one of the three to be really successful. At a very young age, due to his skillfullness in drawing, he was able to furnish his first drawings after the Old Masters, including Correggio (1489-1534). Furthermore, Annibale’s landscapes have often been confused with those of Domenico Campagnola (Venice (?), 1500 – Padua, 1564) for his many landscape drawings inspired by Titian.

Famous for the creation of the Accademia degli Incamminati founded in 1582, the three artists brought an aesthetic renewal to art through the importance they gave to drawing. Their teaching came out of Platonist theory according to which drawing should convey an idea by reducing the gap between the idea and the real. Based on this assumption, drawing is a primordial stage of creation: the work of art becomes intellectual.

At the turn of the century, a particular interest gradually developed for depicting landscape, not as a separate genre in itself, but as an instrument for representing reality. It was treated by Annibale, especially in Rome, as well as by his Lodovico and Agostino.

Annibale’s intellectual approach to his work allowed him to present his drawings as finished works. He differentiated himself from contemporaries by the clarity of his compositions, his rigor, and the in-depth study of figures and their movements carefully integrated into his Titianesque landscapes.

Our drawing presents a compositional finesse characteristic of his work. The different planes are linked through subtle penwork, with broad supple strokes in the background and tighter handling in the vegetation and elegant figure of the shepherd in the foreground. Lines and forms merge with each other in a meticulously thought out view. In this soothing natural setting, the gentle sensation of a slight breeze seems to set everything into motion.

The poetry which was characteristic of his works assured Annibale of a solid reputation throughout his career, mainly on account of the minute care given to his drawings, an area in which he excelled. Our drawing is a wonderful example of the attentive process of depicting nature, and more broadly, of the importance of drawing as an embodiment of the artist’s idea.

In Rome and Parma, Annibale was called upon for grand decorative projects, but his years in Bologna were certainly the ones that were dearest to him. He travelled so as to enrich his knowledge of the Old Masters, as well as to transmit and spread the Carracci’s teaching.

M.O.
Transl. chr

We would like to thank Mr. Nicolas Turner for having confirmed the authenticity of our drawing after examination from photos (certificate appended dated July 17th, 2013).

1Our drawing belonged to Max A. Goldstein (1870-1941), a doctor practicing in St. Louis, MO, pioneer of otolaryngology, and collector of Old Master drawings (see F. Lugt, Les Marques de Collections de Dessins & d’Estampes, 1921 and 1956, n° 2824.) As cited in Lugt Supplement, the Goldstein collection sales took place in 1920, as well as the post mortem sales (one in 1944, and two in 1945.) Several of the drawings from his collection were acquired from Goldstein’s heirs by Janos Scholz, and are now conserved in the Morgan Library and Museum, New York.

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