Domenichino (1581–1641), the Roman rise and Neapolitan fall of little Dominic

Domenichino, paintings in the pendentives of the dome (covered with a netting), Church of San Carlo ai Catinari

Domenichino, paintings in the pendentives of the dome (covered with a netting), Church of San Carlo ai Catinari

Domenichino was admired by his contemporaries and numerous following generations all the way until the XIX century, when excessive sweetness and devotional character of his paintings were noticed. Since that time he is slowly returning to graces, which can be attested to by a grand exhibition of his works organized in Rome in 1996. No matter how we judge his painting, one thing is for sure: he was a typical creation of his times – early XVII century, and in a perfect way he responded to his clients’ needs for religious art.

Domenichino, paintings in the pendentives of the dome (covered with a netting), Church of San Carlo ai Catinari
Domenichino, Cumaean Sybil, Musei Capitolini – Pinacoteca Capitolina
Domenichino, frescoes in the Chapel of St. Cecilia, Church of San Luigi dei Francesi
Domenichino, frescoes in the Chapel of St. Cecilia, Church of San Luigi dei Francesi
Domenichino, paintings in the pendentives of the dome of the Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle
Domenichino, top of the apse of the Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle
Domenichino, decorations of the Chapel of St. Francis of Assisi, Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria
Domenichino, The Flagellation of St. Andrew, Sant’Andrea Oratory
Domenichino, The Last Communion of St. Jerome, fragment, Musei Vaticani – Pinacoteca Vaticana
Domenichino, Diana the Huntress, Galleria Borghese
Domenichino, Cumaean Sybil, 1617, Galleria Borghese
Domenichino, Landscape with Fording, Galleria Doria Pamphilj
Domenichino, paintings at the top of the apse, Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle
Domenichino, apse frescoes, Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle
Domenichino, apse frescoes, Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle
Domenichino, Madonna with Child and SS. James and Philip, Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda (badly preserved)
Domenichino, Casino Ludovisi, Stanza del Caminetto, ceiling painting, fragment
Domenichino, St. Barbara, Musei Capitolini

Domenichino was admired by his contemporaries and numerous following generations all the way until the XIX century, when excessive sweetness and devotional character of his paintings were noticed. Since that time he is slowly returning to graces, which can be attested to by a grand exhibition of his works organized in Rome in 1996. No matter how we judge his painting, one thing is for sure: he was a typical creation of his times – early XVII century, and in a perfect way he responded to his clients’ needs for religious art.

 


The painter was called Domenichino (little Dominic) thanks to his small built, but some say, that it is his nature that hides behind this name – slow and almost morbidly shy.

He is considered a successor and imitator of his master and teacher, Annibale Carracci. It is he who in 1602 brought Domenichino from Bologna to Rome, so that he would help him in a gigantic artistic task – the decorations of Palazzo Farnese (A Virgin with a Unicorn). Together with another student of Carracci, Guido Reni, they started a career in the Eternal City, also as the creators of portraits, altar works and frescos, while at night they played cards together. Along with Carracci they became the most in-demand painters in Rome, and when in 1614 Reni, insulted by his clients, left the city, it was Domenichino who became the brightest star on the firmament of local painting. His first success came along with the commission of the fresco The Flagellation of St. Andrew made for the Oratory Sant’Andrea, found next to the Church of San Gregorio Magno. However his most important work awaited him in another Roman church – San Luigi dei Francesi.

The time of greatest splendor came for the painter between the years 1610-1625, when he decorated the interiors of numerous Roman churches, both with frescos as well as altar paintings. His landscape paintings, completed throughout his whole life for the decorations of walls in the palaces of private clients, are both interesting and unconventional. They were distinguished by a small format and a great attention devoted to the beauty and freshness of the nature presented.

Looking for traces of this artist in Rome, we will find them at via San Martino ai Monti – there at number 20 (Casa del Domenichino) there is a plaque reminding us that it is here that he lived.

In 1631 in the search for new commissions Domenichino left for Napoli, but the local painters welcomed him with dislike almost bordering on persecution. It is there that he died, most likely as a result of poisoning.

In Rome Domenichino left many paintings and frescos, here are a few selected ones:

 

 

  • Church of San Luigi dei Francesi – frescos in the Polet Chapel (The Life of St. Cecilia) (1614)
  • Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle frescos in the pendentives of the dome (The Four Evangelists) and in the crowning of the apse (The Martyrdom of St. Andrew) (1628)
  • Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria – Chapel of St. Francis of Assisi (The Ecstasy of St. Francis, St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata), in the altar Our Lady Offering the Christ Child to St. Francis
  • Church of San Carlo ai Catinari (1630)  – frescos in the pendentives of the dome
  • The Oratory of St. Andrew (Church of San Gregorio Magno) – The Flagellation of St. Andrew (1608)
  • Church of San Lorenzo in MirandaMadonna with Child and SS Philip and James

 

Musei Vaticani – Pinacoteca Vaticana (The Vatican Museums)

  • The Last Communion of Jerome (1614)

Galleria Borghese

Galleria Doria Pamphilj

  • Landscape with Fording (1603)