Malvasia's Life of the Carracci: Commentary and Translation
Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 395 pages
Ludovico, Agostino, and Annibale Carracci played leading roles in bringing about the changes in style and outlook that transformed the art of painting around 1600. Working both as a team and as individuals, they turned away from the conventions of Mannerism to reinvigorate the Renaissance tradition and usher in a new style, at once naturalistic, classical, and spirited.
Malvasia's "Life of the Carracci" has been the principal source of knowledge about these pioneering artists since its first publication in 1678 in Felsina pittrice, vite de' pittori bolognesi. Malvasia, a law professor and a literary man, was brilliant, innovative, and contentious. His biography of the Carracci is pivotal to his celebration of the Bolognese contribution to Baroque art and provides a window onto the cultural life of seventeenth-century Italy. The worlds of artisans, artists, literati, and patrons intersect in his text, giving it incomparable historical and literary value
Although Malvasia's "Life of the Carracci" is widely cited, this is the first translation in any language and the first to offer an extended critical and historical commentary. Malvasia’s own life is discussed, and his triple biography of the Carracci is situated within the intellectual and literary currents to which he responded.
Richly illustrated, Summerscale's book will be an indispensable resource for art historians and students of seventeenth-century literature and historiography.