Food For Your Soul
"Mater Dolorosa” (Sorrowful Mother)
This composition was executed by the circle of Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (1591-1666), best known as II Guercino (Italian for ‘squinter’) because he was cross-eyed. One of the leading Italian Baroque painters of the 17th century, II Guercino was active in Rome and Bologna. His many drawings are noted for their luminosity and lively style. His works reveal psychologically profound facial expressions and gestures; rich, strong colors and atmospheric handling of paint.
The artist was largely self-taught in his younger years, independently studying the major works of art in the nearby cities of Bologna, Ferrara and Modena. He seems to have been influenced by the early 16th century artist Corregio (1594-1534). By 1613 he was receiving independent commissions. For a short time he operated an academy for drawing, but then organized his own ‘closed workshop’ studio in accord with medieval and earlier Renaissance tradition. He and his assistants lived together in a large house where they formed a cohesive community.
His work includes several large altarpieces, and in 1621 Pope Gregory XV called him to Rome where he executed several large pieces. When he left Rome in 1623, he attracted the attention of several major patrons such as Marie de Medici, Queen Mother of France, and Charles I, King of England. In 1642 he and his assistants moved to Bologna where he continued to work until his death.
The painting in the Sisters of Charity collection is a late 19th-century reproduction in a regilded late Victorian ornately gessoed frame.