An Artist at Work,
pen and brown ink on laid paper
15.3 x 18.2 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 30377)
Guido Reni trained at the Carracci academy and would become one of the most influential artists of the early Italian Baroque period. The figure presented is part life study and part caricature. The distinctive profile, with its receding chin and thick lips, was no doubt based on the sitter’s features, but one senses the artist exaggerated slightly and flattered none at all. This sheet presents a curious juxtaposition: an informal but keenly observed study of a seated man identified as an artist overlaps a scribbled notation of a formal scene of a Presentation in the Temple. The casual nature of his study illustrates Reni’s awareness of the example of Agostino Carracci and the Bolognese tradition of informal drawing from life.