Guido Reni

Date/place of birth

November 4, 1575, Calvenzano, Italy

Day/place of death

August 18, 1642, Bologna, Italy

Guido Reni

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Guido Reni biography

It is not figures but living people that Guido Reni brings together with great feeling. So it seems, when viewing the Baroque masterpieces of the Italian painter and etcher, an artist who sometimes exaggerates this sensibility to a saccharine sentimentality, but who nevertheless must be considered one of the most important painters of the Bolognese Baroque.

Guido Reni – a child prodigy learns from Denys Calvaert and Lodovico Carracci

Guido Reni was born in Calvenzano on 4 November 1575. The son of a musician, he was born with a musical disposition, and was considered a child prodigy in painting as well as music at a young age. He decided, however, in favour of the fine arts when in 1584, at the age of nine, Reni took lessons from the Flemish master Denys Calvaert. The teacher had founded his own, well-attended school where Reni’s fellow students included Domenichino, who later made a name for himself with history and mythological representation. As well as Calvaert, Lodovico Carracci also had a great influence on Reni’s art from 1595; Carracci was, at this time, decisively instrumental in shaping the classicist-baroque development of art not only in Bologna but throughout Italy. In 1599, Guido Reni was accepted as master in the painter’s guild of Bologna who eventually elected him uncontested as its consigliere. Bologna remained the artist’s declared home, leaving only rarely to work in Rome, Naples and Ravenna. 

Idealised painting style following Raphael

In around 1600, Guido Reni moved to Rome, where he celebrated great success with his idealised painting style; although it was based on Raphael, it differed markedly from the established masters of his time, Caravaggio and Annibale Carracci. Following a temporary return to Bologna, in the 1620s he took on a prestigious commission from Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi when he was asked to decorate the large altarpiece in the church of Santissima Trinità del Pelligri, with the Holy Trinity as motif. Religious themes were a preferred and particular strength of Guido Reni, even if the work of his last years has sometimes been accused of a tendency to superficial sentimentality. In terms of methods, Guido Reni was occupied not only with painting, but also printing techniques and produced numerous etchings. 

A sought-after fresco painter; Aurora as masterpiece

Guido Reni also developed a lively occupation as a fresco painter; amongst his numerous frescoes, the Aurora on the ceiling of the central hall of the Casino Borghese (today Casino Rospigliosi-Pallavicini) in Rome is particularly noteworthy – the decoration personally commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The impact of the artwork was immense; as late as the 19th century, Aurora was praised by Lord Byron and Jacob Burckhardt, whilst important artists such as Raffaello Morghen copied it in their time, and Theodor Fontane mentioned the work by name in his novel Effi Briest. Guido Reni was not actually solely responsible for the decoration of the space, but had worked on it with Antonio Tempesta, who in turn painted the Triumph of Cupid and Triumph of Fama on the walls of the narrow sides of the hall.  

Guido Reni died in Bologna on 18 August 1642.

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

Guido Reni Prices

Guido Reni and workshop (Giorgio Sementi?)Mary Magdalene€21.960
Guido Reni, UmkreisDIE HL. CÄCILIE AN DER ORGEL.€10.620
Guido Reni, copy afterDavid with the Head of Goliath€5.704
Guido Reni, NachfolgeAURORA.€3.570

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