Guido Cagnacci: Between Caravaggio and Reni

Muerte de CleopatraIf there was ever a temperamental painter, Cagnacci was worth noting. He was extremely volatile with a run toward violence and lust, but was also deeply religious and amazingly talented as a painter.

Cagnacci is not well-known to us today as an Italian painter, but was well-known during his lifetime. He was an eccentric prone to indulgent and notable romantic activities. He lived and worked during the late Baroque period, and died in 1663. Cagnacci is known for his study of the female form both in his art and in real life.

The first retrospective display of his works is being held in Musei San Domenico, Piazza Guido Da Montefeltro, Forli’. A small town in eastern Romagna, there is a great deal of local flair to the village including the works of this little known master. Today, his painting as hailed as excellent in both form and subject, although at the time Cagnacci was the subject of gossip as well as note for his abilities.

During his lifetime, Cagnacci moved from patron to patron and city to city due to his extravagant lifestyle and rather volatile personality. After a time, he began to focus almost exclusively on salon works which featured the female form from the thigh up. Some of his most notable paintings were of famous women throughout history including Mary Magdalene and Cleopatra.

His work with the female body was exquisite and to keep his work and lifestyle in top form, he often traveled with many of his beautiful models. To reduce scandal at least a bit, the models often traveled garbed as men so as not to call too much attention to themselves. Despite this Cagnacci was known for his rather outlandish behavior and companions as well as a failed elopement with a rich heiress.

The display at Musia San Domenico runs through June 22 and contains ninety of the artist’s best works. In addition to the paintings of Cagnacci, many works by other artists such as Guido Reni, Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi, Caravaggio, Lanfranco and Guercino are part of the exhibit as well.

The exhibit is open Tuesday through Friday from 9:30am until 7pm. On weekends, the exhibit is open until 10pm. While there are few major attractions in the region, this show and the local lifestyle and scenery are well worth a short excursion to Forli’ in Romanga.