Annibale Carracci, “Pieta”, Detail, 1600, Oil on Canvas, National Museum of Capodimonte in Naples, Italy
The “Pieta” by Bolognese artist Annibale Carracci is the earliest surviving work by him on the subject. It was commissioned by Italian nobleman Odoardo Farnese, who became a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in 1591. The painting moved from Rome to Parma and then to Naples as part of the Farnese collection.
Painter and instructor Annibale Carracci was active in Bologna and later in Rome. Along with his brothers, Carracci was one of the founders of a leadiing faction of the Baroque style. Based on the masterful frescoes by Carracci in Bologna, he was recommended by the Duke of Parma to Cardinal Odoardo Farnese, who wished to decorate the Roman Palazzo Farnese.
Carracci led a team of artists to paint frescoes on the ceiling of the grand salon, based upon hundreds of preparatory sketches by him for the major work.. Entitled “The Loves of the Gods”, the frescoes rich with illusionistic elements would later inspire a host of artists. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the Farnese Ceiling was considered the unrivaled masterpiece of fresco painting for the age.