Annibale Carracci was one of the greatest protagonists of the Italian painting of the XVII century and one of the most celebrated artists in Europe. After his apprenticeship in Bologna he founded, together with his cousin Ludovico and his brother Agostino, an academy devoted to the stylistic renovation. The Carracci studied Barocci’s naturalistic works much as those of the great Venetian masters. In 1595 Annibale was called in Rome, where he absorbed the classical style of the Rinascimento and the antiquity. At the Carracci’s school, an extraordinary number of masters formed through the years, among whose Guido Reni, Domenichino, Lanfranco and Francesco Albani.
This Portrait of a young man represents an important rediscovery as it reflects one of the most immediate and suggestive samples of the ‘maniera’ carraccesca to paint portraits and life studies. Here, Annibale has given life to the subject with vigorous and loaded brushstrokes, making the modeling of the face palpable.
The work emerges from the private collection of Giovanni Testori, great art expert, to which goes the credit for beign the first to have recognized this painting’s important reference within Annibale Carracci’s Venetian phase. Clearly in relationship with the famous Portrait of man at Palazzo Pitti, with which it shares a dating close to 1590 (after his return from Venice) this Portrait reveals the Carracci in a particularly fervent moment of its pictorial expression. Titian and Paolo Veronese have encouraged the Carracci toward a more inclined naturalism, while the marked sensuality of the mouth, the intensive and introspective gaze seem to prelude to his future rival, Caravaggio.