Although not a household name like his Italian predecessors Michelangelo and Raphael, Annibale Carracci (Italian, 1560-1609) was far and away the most influential Italian artist of the seventeenth century. Along with his brother Agostino and cousin Ludovico, he established an academy in Bologna that trained a whole generation of internationally prominent artists. His legacy was the establishment of a classical manner of painting that dominated Europe for at least a century. IU Art Museum's fall special exhibition, Gods and Goddesses: Annibale Carracci and the Renaissance Reborn, brings renewed attention to this important artist and his masterpiece The Loves of the Gods in the Farnese Gallery.
Despite the importance of the frescoes, they have always been difficult to see, housed as they were in a private aristocratic residence. Even today, they are accessible only by appointment, since the Palazzo Farnese in Rome now serves as home to the French Embassy. In order to spread their imagery to artists and collectors far and wide, professional printmakers immediately began to replicate Annibale's designs through reproductive engravings (seen in reverse of the original paintings).
This exhibition focuses on a series produced in France by the seventeenth-century engraver Claude Lefèbvre's prints—dedicated to Charles LeBrun, the artist largely responsible for the program of decoration at Louis XIV's palace of Versailles and one of the founders of the Académie Royale—promoted the ideal forms and the legacy of antiquity central to the Carracci school. This exhibition includes sixteen prints; fourteen after Annibale's designs that are promised gifts to the Indiana University Art Museum, as well as two comparative examples of Michelangelo and Raphael from the IU Art Museum's collection.