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Semiramis Receiving the news of the Revolt of Babylon.

After Giovanni Francesco Barbieri [Guercino,] by Fr Hanfstaengl. Semiramis Receiving the news of the Revolt ofthe Persians, by Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino da Cento "Der Konnigen Tomiris erhalt die Nachrucht von der veiloren Schlacht gegen die Perser, von Francesco Barbieri, gen Guercino da Cento." Dresden Harausgeber. 1838.
Black and white lithograph after the painting by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri [Guercino,] formerly in the Staatliche Gemäldegalerie, Dresden.

The story of Semiramis is recounted by the Roman historian and moralist Valerius Maximus in his De Factis Dictisque Memorabilibus Libri (vol. IX, p.3, ext.4), a collection of short stories illustrating examples of good and bad conduct from the lives of important figures. Semiramis, a woman of unrivalled beauty, was the daughter of the fish-goddess Derceto, and became one of the founders of the Assyrian empire of Nineveh. Interrupted at her toilette by news of a revolt, Semiramis, the legendary queen of Assyria, demonstrated her determination as a ruler by refusing to finish combing her hair until she had led her army to crush the rebels. This depiction of the story is made lively and dramatic by the emphatic gestures and by such bold compositional devices as the off-center placement of Semiramis and the radically cropped figure of her maid at right.

The subject clearly appealed to Guercino, for he painted no fewer than three treatments of the theme, all of half-length format. The first is a this painting in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which he executed in 1624 for Daniele Ricci. In around 1627-28 he returned to the subject, with a painting formerly in the Staatliche Gemäldegalerie, Dresden, destroyed in 1945. The third and final treatment was commissioned in 1645 by Cardinal Cornaro, and is now in a private collection. Bright and clean, printed on india paper laid down.

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri ( 1591 – 1666),
best known as Guercino,or Il Guercino (a nickname meaning "the squinter") was an Italian Baroque painter and draftsman from the region of Emilia of the Bolognese school. He was self-taught but developed precociously. Despite the fact that he spent much of his life in Cento, a small provincial town between Bologna and Ferrara, he managed to become one of the major artists of his day. He was early inspired by the classical reforms of Lodovico Carracci but his pictures were full of movement and intense feeling. The vigorous naturalism of his early manner is in contrast to the classical equilibrium of his later works. His many drawings are noted for their luminosity and lively style.
In 1621 Pope Gregory XV summoned him to Rome where he stayed until 1623, trying to balance his own dynamic temperament with the rarefied manner of the classical school. The works he produced in Rome such as Aurora, in the Ludovisi's country house were perhaps his most original paintings. After Gregory's death in 1623, he went back to Emilia, his energy gradually seemed to dissipate and his painting became more controlled. On the death of Guido Reni (1642) he moved to Bologna where the dominant climate was coldly classical. Altering his art to suit this atmosphere, Guercino became the leader of its academic art world.
415 by 530mm (16¼ by 20¾ inches).   ref: 2692  €200

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