Bartolomeo Cesi

Dates1556 - 1629

Despite his humanist education, the Counter-Reformation had a deeper influence on Bartolomeo Cesi's painting. Emphasizing clarity and impact, Cesi's paintings reflect the Counter-Reformation interest in instruction. Born into affluence, the young Cesi studied under Nosadella. In the 1570s, while decorating the apse and crypt of the Bologna Cathedral, Cesi absorbed strict Counter-Reformation beliefs from the cardinal who coordinated the project. Promoting art solely as a vehicle for renewing faith and promoting Roman Catholic teachings, this cardinal later wrote that painted nudes were unsuitable for private houses and churches. In a 1585 Crucifixion with Saints for an altar in a Bolognese church, Cesi displayed his mature style: sober mood and intellectual, abstract composition, combined with naturalistic figures. These figures derive from life drawings that the indefatigable draftsman made for his paintings. Along with his contemporary Lodovico Carracci, Cesi successfully campaigned for a separate painters' guild in Bologna in 1599. Cesi's later years were less productive, but he became the drawing master of the Accademia degli Ardenti in 1620.

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