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HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL
Among the disciples of the illustrious School of Bologna, three painters were remarked for their talent and the friendship that united them during a long time. Guido Reni, Francesco Albani, and Domenico Zampieri, were all three born at Bologna, at three years' interval from each other, and all three subsequently entered the School of the Caracci. Notwithstanding this continued uniformity of principles, they each had a different manner, and, it would, perhaps, be difficult to say which deserves the preference.
Domenico Zampieri, the youngest of them, was born in 1581: he was intended for the study of Belles Lettres, whilst his brother Gabriel was to be a painter: but young Domenichino drew in secret. His father soon perceiving the extraordinary inclination of his son, for painting, determined to place him with the painter Flammand Calvaert, with whom he remained but a short time. His master having caught him copying one of Carraci's designs, his pride was so much hurt at it, that, borne away by passion, he gave his pupil a severe blow. This unbecoming scene determined Domenichino to immediately leave his master, and to place himself under the guidance of Caracci, taking with him his two friends, Guido and Albani. Zampieri was remarkable for his assiduity in studying : he
always worked apart, and carried the prize in a competition, wherein his former comrades looked upon-him as by no means to be feared. Yet he wrought with difficulty, produced slowly, and took up his pencil but after having meditated for a long time. His fellow students, jesting him on his slowness, used to call him The painting Ox, but Annibale Caracci, who foresaw all his merit, defended him openly, saying : This Ox will so fertilize his field, that it will one day be food to painting.
Albani having left Bologna to go to Rome, Domenico Zampieri did not long delay joining him in that city, where he was at first employed by Annibale Caracci, who was then occupied in painting the Farnese Gallery. It is to Domenichino that is due, in that gallery, the emblem of the Farnese Family, a nymph caressing a unicorn. This essay was soon noticed; but the young artist, ever slow in conceiving, was nearly the victim of an apparent incapacity, for, notwithstanding the interest the prelate Agucchi felt for him, he could not obtain for him the powerful protection of his uncle, Cardinal Agucchi, who considered Domenichino as a painter without any capacity, or skill. Nevertherless, the Prelate commissioned his friend to paint a picture of St. Peter delivered from prison, and on the festival, had it exhibited in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli: every body admired, and attributed it to Annibale Caracci.Cardinal Agucchi having also praised it highly, his nephew, then informed him, that it was the production of his young protégé.
Cardinal Edward Farnese equally pleased with what he had seen, ordered Domenichino to paint, in a series of six pictures, the history of St. Nileus, to ornament the Abbey of Grotta Ferrata, which he had just had rebuilt. Zampieri was then 29 years old, Annibale Caracci was lately dead, leaving a part of his property to his pupil, who was commissioned to execute several great works. At Frescati he did ten pictures from the story of Apollo: and under the pontificate of Paul V, he was or
dered to paint for the Church of San Girolamo della Carità, the picture of St. Jerome, truly a masterpiece, for which he received only about 250 fr. (L. 10). This work was considered by Poussin as worthy to be put in parallel with the Transfiguration by Raphael, and it excited the jealousy of several of the contemporary painters. Lanfranco, the most exasperated of them, insinuated that Zampieri had, in his St. Jerome, copied the same subject treated by Agostino Caracci for the Carthusian Monastery at Bologna: but though it should be true, that some reminiscences may have guided Domenichino's conception, still it must be acknowledged that he had no need to borrow from others, his genius sufficing him. Proofs of this were soon seen in the various pictures that he produced; such as the Scourging of St. Andrew, which he did for the Church of San Gregorio. Finding himself then competing with Guido Reni, who treated that identical subject in the same monument, he had the glory of bearing the palm over a fellow student, older than himself by six years. The Martyrdom of St. Agnes, and the Virgin of the Rosary, must be mentioned as highly remarkable; as also the Story of St. Cecilia, which he painted in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, at Rome.
Zampieri afterwards returned to Bologna, where he married a woman distinguished for her beauty, and who often served him as a model, but whose haughty and interested disposition, subsequently occasioned him many vexations, particuJarly during his abode in Naples. Cardinal Ludovisi, being now Pope, under the name of Gregory XV, recalled Domenichino to Rome and entrusted to him the direction of the works of the Vatican. About the same time, this artist was commissioned by the Marquis Giustiniani to paint, at Bassano, the Story of Diana, the famous Frescos of San Carlo A' Catenari, wherein he represented the four Cardinal Virtues, and finally in the Capella Bandini of the Church of San Silvestro at Rome,