Bologna this afternoon

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Founding of a Rome fresco by the Carracci family in the Palazzo Magnani, late-sixteenth century

F3BC32BC-821C-4B0D-9F21-9AFA86113DE0Refreshed by lunch, we headed to the Palazzo Magnani to look at the frescoes on the piano nobile by the Carracci (two brothers and a cousin). Today it is a bank and the open loggia on the first floor overlooking the courtyard has been glazed in, but I did look into another courtyard to see what it would originally have looked like. I was very taken with the clever trompe l’oeil effect: from the right position, it really did look as if the caryatids and consoles were three-dimensional. There were playful incidentals, like the swags of fruit and flowers looping below the frescoes.

F60555C8-6A59-4AF8-BED0-13CD0BADD208And finally, the Pinacoteca (opposite an eye-catching apartment block from 1935). Napoleon was here too: he suppressed many churches, taking a few of the artworks for French collections. Others were bought by collectors, and some ended up in art galleries like the Pinacoteca.

Here I discovered Guido Reni (1575-1642), who trained under one of the Carracci. I think I could quickly tire of his religious works, but the small portrait of his mother was lovely. There was also a sub-standard Giotto altarpiece: either he was losing his touch or he didn’t do the quality control on his workshop properly. Also a 14th-century crucifixion of a stylised Byzantine-style Christ – one of several – which highlighted his physical and psychological suffering. This was in contrast to the early Christian depiction of Christ as a young man caring for his flock depicted in the mausoleum of Galla Placidia.

And finally . . . here’s St Jerome removing the thorn from the lion’s paw. Such a happy couple!

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Arnolfini, eat your hearts out.

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