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Most of Annibale's paintings are either religious or mythological works painted in an elevated style, but early in his career he did some everyday life scenes that are remarkable for their lively and humorous imagination. The Butcher's Shop and The Bean-Eater are two of the finest examples. In more traditional subject areas, Annibaleexcelled both in fresco and as an easel painter. His decoration of the Farnese Gallery was one of the key works in the development of 17th-century painting, and individual scenes within the glorious complex stand out as masterpieces in their own right.
On a more intimate scale, Annibale created some moving religious works, particularly late in his career. `Domine, Quo Vadis?' and The Dead Christ Mourned show all the clear and precise handling of emotional themes, through beautifully controlled gestures and expressions, that made his work an inspiration to classically-minded painters such as Nicolas Poussin.
This Painting was discovered only in 1965, but had previously been known through engravings.Venus and Adonis was an extremely popular subject, not only with painters, but also with poets (including, Shakespeare). After being grazed with one of cupid’s arrows, Venus , the goddess of love, is helplessly smitten with the beautiful Adonis. Later he is killed while hunting
This is the largest scene in the Farnese Gallery, dominating the centre of the ceiling. Annibale has created a balance between firmness of structure, based on his powerful command of figure drawing, and a lively sense of movement, expressed in the flowing, undulating rhythms of the composition. The sense of spontaneous high spirits that the picture convoys belies the painstaking preparatory work that went into it.
This and the painting opposite from pair based on the story of the love of the Cyclops (one – eyed giant) Polyphemus, the son of Neptune, for the nymph Galatea. In Bellori’s words, he’sits on a promontory in the Sicilian Sea, Soothing his palpitation by stridently singing to the accompaniment of the reeds’.
As he Wandered disconsolately along the sea shore, Polyphemus saw Galtea in the arms of her lover Acis , and in his rage threw an enormous boulder at the youth and killed him. Polyphemus is the most magnificent single figure in the farnese Gallery, his twisting pose brilliantly converying a sense of enormous physical exertion.
This fairly uncommon subject is based on the tradition that St Peter, Fleeing from the persecution of Christians in Nero’s Rome, saw a vision of Christ carrying his cross ; in answer to his question ‘Domine ,Quo vadis? (Lord, where are you going ?), Christ said he was going to rome to be crucified a second time.
Annibale’s late works are characterized by their severe classical style, demonstrated in this particular work by the stylized rhetorical gestures,the carefully orchestrated composition and the rich, almost strident colouring. This rigorous approach gives the picture an even greater emotional intensity.
Writer – Marshall Cavendish