Ugo Bozzi Editore is pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of an updated edition of Luigi Salerno’s I dipinti del Guercino (Rome, 1988). That book—written in close consultation with renowned Guercino authority Sir Denis Mahon—was the first monograph on the artist, but is now seriously out of date. The pace of research has quickened appreciably, as is clear from the torrent of recent books, exhibition catalogues and other publications on the artist. This new information needs to be collated and synthesized in one place. The revision, generously supported by the Sir Denis Mahon Charitable Trust, has been undertaken by Nicholas Turner, who collaborated with the late Sir Denis for a decade from 1979 on the catalogue The Drawings of Guercino in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen at Windsor Castle (Cambridge, 1989).
A 200-page introduction, lavishly illustrated in colour, will cover topics central to a better understanding of Guercino’s work. These include his ability to invent a constant stream of new figural poses and expressions, largely thanks to his time-saving practice of recycling favourite ideas from his immense archive of autograph drawings. Less well known is his frequent borrowing of figures from other artists, not only Italian, which he cleverly disguised to hide his source. The painter’s activity as a portraitist will be addressed, with several important previously unknown works brought into consideration.
The introduction will explore the distinctive way in which Guercino painted—his choice of colour and how it changed as he developed; the effect his squint had on his manner of composing; his intuitive brushwork and the phenomenal quickness of his hand; his habit (especially early in his career) of making full-sized oil sketches for some paintings, as well as autograph replicas (and how otherwise identical versions have their own traits); and, finally, how he and his studio worked as a team. His working methods were so characteristic that judging whether a given canvas is by him or not should, in theory, be relatively straightforward, but it is not. There was very much a two-way process between master and assistants: during a working life of some 50 years, he shared both ideas and commissions with studio members, including his brother and two nephews, as well as depending on them for help.
More than 50 ‘new’ paintings have come to light in the past 30 years. They will be added to Salerno’s catalogue of nearly 380 entries in their appropriate chronological place (taking the number of the previous entry, followed by the letter ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’, etc). Some were already known to Sir Denis, others have appeared since his death in 2011, while others still have undergone a shift in critical opinion in Guercino’s favour. Catalogue entries will be added for lost works, whose appearance is roughly known from either replicas or finished preparatory studies (only some of which were included by Salerno).
Salerno’s entries will be translated into English and, where necessary, corrected and updated. Entries will include details of related drawings by Guercino, of which some 150 have come to light on the art market or in museum collections since 1988. Bibliographical literature will be selectively updated, incorporating, for example, references to the 1997 edition of Guercino’s Account Book.
Independent art historianNicholas Turner was formerly Deputy Keeper in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, London, and Curator of Drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Since the appearance of his joint catalogue with Sir Denis of the more than 800 drawings by Guercino and his school at Windsor Castle, he has written numerous publications on the artist’s work, including Guercino a Reggio Emilia: La genesi dell’invenzione, Milan, 2011 (together with Angelo Mazza); Guercino, la scuola, la maniera: I disegni agli Uffizi, exh. cat.,Florence, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, in 2008–9 (also shown at the Kunstmuseum, Bern, 2009, as Furor und Grazie: Guercino und sein Umkreis, Barockzeichnungen aus den Uffizien, with a new introductory section of drawings by the Carracci and their followers).