Guido Reni, by the end of his career, had become the most famous artist in Italy, with a European reputation. The purity and spirituality of his baroque classicism became a touchstone for devotional art in the Catholic world, like the later work of Carlo Dolci (1616–86) in Florence and Murillo (1617–82) in Spain. Reni was born in Bologna and trained under the Flemish late mannerist Denys Calvaert (1540–1619). He naturally gravitated towards the Carracci academy, whose new style reinvigorated the legacy of Raphael (1483–1520), Correggio (1489–1534) and the great Venetians with a realism based on life drawing. In 1601, Reni moved to Rome and in his first major commission, the Crucifixion of St Peter, he adopted a Caravaggesque manner, then on the cutting edge. His fresco of Aurora in the Casino Rospigliosi shows the impact of the antique in the relief composition and classical poses, as well as the smooth elegance of the late Mannerist painter the Cavaliere d’Arpino (1568–1640) whom he knew well.
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Books on Guido Reni
Richard Spear, The “Divine” Guido: Religion, Sex, Money, and Art in the World of Guido Reni, New Haven, 1997.
Cristina Casali and Andrea Emiliani (ed.), Guido Reni, 1575-1642, exh. cat., Los Angeles, 1988.
Stephen Pepper, Guido Reni: A Complete Catalogue of his Works with an Introductory Text, New York, 1984.
Carlo Cesare Malvasia, Felsina Pittrice: Lives of the Bolognese Painters, 1678, trans. ed. Elizabeth Cropper, Washington D.C., 2012