Susanna e i vecchioni di Sisto Badalocchio

Susanna and the Elders by Sisto Badalocchio

The theme of Susanna and the elders was well known in Venice already at the end of the sixteenth century, but not in Rome. It seems likely that his growing popularity in the Eternal City was the direct consequence of Annibale Carracci and his school.

Annibale had made a print of Susanna and the Elders before leaving Bologna, and in Rome he revived the theme in a lost painting described by Bellori. Sisto Badalocchio's monumental figures are similar to those in Hannibal's print, although Susanna is more clearly derived from ancient examples of the crouching Venus.

Susanna and the old men of Badalocchio Susanna and the elders

The normal layout of the garden and the fountain in which Susanna bathes is reduced to the bare minimum; only a few trees and a classical pedestal suggest the rest. Thus the figures, which are almost life-size, have an imposing psychological presence and the palpability of Susanna's half-naked body seems all the more real. Due to the inscription 'A.CAR.BON.F.', the painting has been variously attributed to Annibale, Agostino and Antonio Carracci.

However, none of these artists are known to have signed works exclusively with the initial "A". By 1657, when the painting was registered in Donna Olimpia Aldobrandini's collection, it had already been removed from the frame, strongly suggesting that it was not by an artist of Annibale's stature (or perhaps that the subject was considered too provocative).

The signature was first recorded in the 19th century and technical evidence suggests that it floats on the surface. It was probably therefore added in a later period to increase the value of the painting. In 1602 Badalocchio was sent by the Duke of Parma to study with Annibale in Rome, where he remained until the master's death in 1609. His Roman works, such as the Susanna and the Holy Family of Hartford, combine the grandeur of Annibale's style with a pictorial taste, richness of colors and lights that reflect Badalocchio's Emilian origins.

The plump, round faces and the relief effect of the sinuous folds of the drapery are similar in both images. The compact grouping of figures around a recessive diagonal is also more characteristic of Badalocchio than of any member of the Carracci family.

Mars and Venus by Badalocchio Mars and Venus

The life of Sisto Badalocchio

Sisto Badalocchio Rosa (28 June 1585 – c. 1619-1647) was an Italian painter and engraver of the Bolognese school.

Born in Parma, he worked first under Agostino Carracci in Bologna, then Annibale Carracci, in Rome. He worked with Annibale until 1609, then returned to Parma. His best-known work as an engraver was the Raphael Bible series, which he created together with his fellow student Giovanni Lanfranco.

The images depict a cycle of frescoes from Raphael's workshop in the Vatican loggia. As a painter, his most important work is the frescoes in the church of San Giovanni Evangelista, Reggio Emilia, which are inspired by Correggio's previous works. In this church he decorated the dome and the plumes. The fresco in the dome represents the parousia, that is, the second coming of Christ, while the plumes are decorated with the four cardinal virtues.

Although he often collaborated in fresco painting with Lanfranco, for example in the series designed by Annibale for the San Diego Chapel in San Giacomo degli Spagnoli (1602–1607) and in Palazzo Costaguti, Badalocchio never received the same recognition as his peer. However, today he is recognized as an important figure in bringing the artistic styles of the Italian Baroque to northern Italy.

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