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Agostino Carracci
Figure Studies for Various Female and Male Figures (recto); Threes Amors in the Garden of Venus (verso)
1600–1602
Pen and brown ink, some sketches over red chalk, some faint scribbles in charcoal (recto); pen and brown ink, brush and gray-blue wash (verso)

11 3/16 x 15 13/16 inches
Harris Brisbane Dick and Rogers Funds, 1972

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Excerpt from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York:

Agostino Carracci
Figure Studies for Various Female and Male Figures (recto)
Threes Amors in the Garden of Venus (verso)
1600–1602

Agostino, the older brother of the more famous Annibale, first collaborated with their cousin Lodovico in their native Bologna, where the three founded an art academy that emphasized the study of nature. Today, Agostino is perhaps best known as the author of some two hundred prints. A fine painter and an accomplished printmaker, he traveled briefly to Venice and Parma and by 1598 was in Rome to assist his brother on frescoes in the Palazzo Farnese. Previously owned by the French collector Pierre-Jean Mariette, this sheet with lively sketches was preparatory for figures in a fresco cycle narrating the classical myth of Peleus and Thetis that Agostino painted for Ranuccio I Farnese on the vault of the Sala dell’Amore at the Palazzo del Giardino in Parma in 1600-1602. Toward the end of his life, as seen here, Agostino’s figural vocabulary achieved a classical grandeur. An elegant quotation of Michelangelo’s marble sculpture of Night in the Medici Chapel, the reclining nude female at center is an early idea for the sea nymph Thetis as she guides the Argo between Scylla and Charybdis. The male profile at the upper left of the sheet is a study for the figure of Peleus in the Marriage of Peleus and Thetis. Agostino died before he could finish the fresco cycle that he had planned for the Sala dell’Amore. There are further pen studies for these frescoes in the Albertina, Vienna, and in the Royal Library at Windsor (for which see Mahon, 1963, nos. 63-64). A double-sided sheet of sketches made with pen and ink by Agostino Carracci and now in the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg (Kupferstichkabinett, inv. no. 1974/68) features several studies for the group of Thetis riding a dolphin.


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Additional Information

Agostino Carracci: Selected Biographies on Art in Context

Agostino Carracci: Related Links on Art in Context


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Agostino Carracci, Italian, (1557–1602)
b. August 16, 1557,  Bologna
d. 1602


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