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Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) (1591-1666)  
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Shortly after the death of Guido Reni on August 18, 1642, Guercino and his assistants moved to Bologna, the leading cultural center of Emilia, and they there received the types of major religious commissions that Reni had monopolized up to that point. Apparently, Guercino was willing to establish his practice in a major center, as long as he did not have to endure the sort of competition that troubled him in Rome. In 1655, Christina, Queen of Sweden, made a special trip to Bologna in order to pay her respects to Guercino.

During his later years, Guercino was troubled by various medical problems, which reduced his output. However, he remained active as an artist until his death on December 22, 1666 in Bologna.

In his later years, Guercino continued to infuse significant religious subjects with homoerotic feeling, as he did, for example, in the monumental Flagellation of Christ (1658, Galleria Corsini, Rome), commissioned by Cardinal Lorenzo Imperiali, then cardinal legate of Ferrara. Holding a whip loosely by his side, Christ's tormenter gently lifts up some of his hair as he gazes intently at him with an expression encompassing both compassion and desire.

The sensitivity and beauty of the radiant figure of Christ was praised lavishly by eighteenth-century travelers, who saw this picture in the public galleries of the Palazzo Chigi in Rome. However, John Ruskin (1819-1900), a preeminent Victorian critic, condemned the supposed moral decadence of this and other religious subjects by Guercino. Thus far, modern art historians have chosen to remain silent about the aspects of Guercino's work that disturbed Ruskin. But the homoerotic power of his paintings must be acknowledged if his artistic achievements are to be fully understood.

Richard G. Mann

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Brown, Beverly Louise, ed. The Genius of Rome, 1592-1623. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2001. (Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Palazzo Venezia, Rome, 2001).

Mahon, Denis. Studies in Seicento Art and Theory. London: Warburg Institute, 1947.

O'Neill John P., and Frances P. Smyth, eds. The Age of Correggio and the Carracci. Robert Erich Wolf et al., trans. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986. (Catalogue of an exhibition held at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna; 1986-1987).

Russell, Francis, ed. Guercino in Britain. Paintings from British Collections. With Contributions by Tom Henry, Denis Mahon, Neil MacGregor, and Michael Helston. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1991. (Catalogue of exhibition held at the Royal Academy, 1991.)

Spear, Richard E. "Guercino's 'prix-fixe': Observations on Studio Practices and Art Marketing in Emilia." Burlington Magazine 136 (September 1994): 592-602.


    Citation Information
    Author: Mann, Richard G.  
    Entry Title: Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri)  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2005  
    Date Last Updated September 18, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
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    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc.  


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