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up to and including 30 April 2017

Guercino and the Bolognese School

Last September Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen received an extraordinary loan from the Hoogheemraadschap Hollands Noorderkwartier: a masterpiece by the Baroque painter Guercino. In January 2017 the museum opened a small exhibition of drawings from the museum’s own collection, which presented the painting in its context.

The news made all the papers in September 2016: the rediscovery of a work by the Italian Baroque painter Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (1591-1666). Known as 'Il Guercino' ('the squinter') because of his lazy right eye, he was one of the finest and most successful painters of the Italian Baroque.




The painting depicts the shepherd David pointing triumphantly to the head of the giant Goliath, whom he has felled with a stone from his slingshot and beheaded. Guercino painted the work in 1657 for the Marquis of Soncino in Milan.

Bolognese school

Guercino was a member of the Bolognese school, which emerged at the end of the sixteenth century in Bologna, northern Italy. Its founders were the brothers Annibale and Agostino Carracci and their cousin Lodovico, who established a painting academy in 1582. In reaction to the complex Mannerist style of their contemporaries, they strove for a simpler and more naturalistic idiom. Their paintings are characterised by uncluttered, classically balanced compositions. Their style was enormously influential and the Bolognese School was held in high esteem well into the eighteenth century.


The new style had its basis in a special attention for draughtsmanship. It is therefore not surprising that the drawings by the masters of the Bolognese School are among the most beautiful of their works. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen owns an exquisite collection of drawings by the most important artists of the school, including the Carraccis, Guercino, Domenichino and Guido Reni. The exhibition featured drawings that have seldom or never been exhibited, varying from quick sketches to magnificently detailed figure studies.