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Annibale Carracci (Bologna 1560-1609 Rome)
Annibale Carracci (Bologna 1560-1609 Rome)

The Return from the Flight into Egypt

Annibale Carracci (Bologna 1560-1609 Rome)
The Return from the Flight into Egypt
oil on canvas
26¼ x 34 7/8 in. (66.5 x 88.5 cm.)
N. Turner, 'Un nuovo "Paesaggio col ritorno dalla fuga in Egitto" del giovane Annibale Carracci', Prospettiva, nos. 126-127, April-July 2007, pp. 149-51.
D. Benati, Annibale Carracci: Due opere per un centenario. 1609-2009, exhibition catalogue, Bologna, 2009, pp. 36-41.
Bologna, Museo Civico Medievale, Annibale Carracci: Due opere per un centenario. 1609-2009, Bologna, 19 September 2009-17 January 2010, (unnumbered).

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Lot Essay

First recognized by Nicholas Turner, the present landscape is a recent and important addition to the catalogue of the early years of Annibale Carracci. The episode is that of the Return from the Flight into Egypt, not the Flight itself, as the Child, toddling alongside the Virgin (and not a baby in her arms), clearly shows. The point of view is raised from the ground and the Holy Family, proceding towards the spectator, is partially obscured by the declining terrain, something that Annibale repeats frequently in his early landscapes -- as well as by the small reduction of about an inch of the canvas in the lower part of the painting. The attention of the viewer, however, is caught by the far and extensive landscape beyond the figures. According to Turner, this landscape recalls those found in Landscape with the Vision of Saint Eustache (Naples, Museo di Capodimonte) or the slightly later Madonna of San Ludovico, formerly in the church of Saints Ludovico and Alessio, now in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna. The Neapolitan landscape can be dated around 1585 and the Bolognese altarpiece about 1590. The latter shows a very similar line of mountains to those in the present canvas -- the composition and the broad landscape in the background seem to suggest that this comes after the frieze frescoed alongside Agostino and Ludovico Carracci in Palazzo Magnani, Bologna, with Scenes from the Founding of Rome. The frescoes in Palazzo Magnani, where a large portion of the mythological scenes are taken up by a series of complex landscapes, the most famous of which is that of Romolus and Remus nursed by the She-Wolf, betray the knowledge of paintings of Titian, Veronese and indeed Bassano, that Annibale and his brother Agostino studied at length during their trip to Venice in 1588.

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