Caravaggio (1571-1610) and Annibale Carracci (1560-1609) are often considered as polar opposites in the history of Italian art: exponents of, respectively, realism, and classicism. Yet they had almost parallel careers in Rome, with both of them being outsiders who came to the city in the early 1590s and worked there till the early 1600s. They arrived in a city which was a great centre of the visual arts, with a long tradition of cultural achievement, and many wealthy patrons and collectors of the arts; yet painting in Rome had become staid, and increasingly dissatisfying to sophisticated audiences and ambitious painters. Faced with this situation, the two painters chose to strike out along drastically different paths. This talk reviews the development of their art, the implications of their choices, and the significance of their legacy for later art. We will look, in particular, at Annibale's greatest masterpiece: the Farnese gallery, and at some of Caravaggio's most celebrated gallery paintings and altarpieces.
Dr. Opher Mansour teaches courses on Baroque art, European architecture and urbanism, and on the visual culture of exploration and imperialism in the Fine Arts Department of The University of Hong Kong. He studied art history at the University of Cambridge and, later, at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where he wrote his PhD on the artists' responses to censorship in Counter-Reformation Rome. His research focuses on Italian art of the late 16th and 17th centuries, and in particular on Rome, and on debates about the value and purpose of art in the early-modern period. He is writing a book on the Baroque nude, and on its return to artistic prominence after the Catholic Reformation. He is also working on a project on the reception and representation of non-European diplomats in 17th century Europe. He has published essays on Papal portraiture, on Annibale Carracci's Camerino Farnese, and on Papal art censorship. Before coming to HKU, he taught at the Courtauld Institute, Dartmouth College, the Catholic University of America, and the Pennsylvania State University, University Park.