Annibale Carracci was born in Bologna, and in all likelihood first
apprenticed within his family. In 1582, Annibale, his brother Agostino, and his
cousin Ludovico Carracci opened a painters' studio, initially called by some the
Academy of the Desiderosi (desirous of fame and learning) and subsequently the
Incamminati (progressives; literally "of those opening a new way"). While the
Carraccis laid emphasis on the typically Florentine linear draftsmanship, as
exemplified by Raphael and Andrea del Sarto, their interest in the glimmering
colours and mistier edges of objects derived from the Venetian painters, notably
the works of Venetian Oil Painter Titian, which Annibale and Agostino studied
during their travels around Italy in 1580-81 at the behest of the elder Caracci
Lodovico. This eclecticism was to become the defining trait of the artists of
the Baroque Emilian or Bolognese School.
In many early Bolognese works by the Carraccis, it is difficult to distinguish
the individual contributions made by each. For example, the frescoes on the
story of Jason for Palazzo Fava in Bologna (c. 1583-84) are signed Carracci,
which suggests that they all contributed. In 1585, Annibale completed an
altarpiece of the Baptism of Christ for the church of San Gregorio in Bologna.
In 1587, he painted the Assumption for the church of San Rocco in Reggio Emilia.
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