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ANTONIO CARRACCI (1583 – 1618) The father, his son and their donkey
Oil on canvas 45.7 x 65.5 cm painted circa 1615-1616 Provenance: Private collection, Italy Expertise : Professor Maurizio Marini According to Professor Maurizio Marini, the present work is one of four paintings executed by Antonio Carracci depicting four episodes of a famous fable. In this fable, a man and his son are accompanied by their donkey and meet constant criticism from passers-by for how they treat the donkey for leaving the elderly walking by (representing egosim of a child), or the young son walking along, for not riding it, or for overburdening their beast, when they both ride the donkey. The story’s purpose is to show that everyone has their own opinion and there is no way one can satisfy all. The location of three other paintings is now unknown. This painting, as Professor Marini suggested, could be dated 1615-1616, the artist’s most significant period, when he executed the frescoes in the Church of San Bartolomeo in Rome, on the Tiber Island between 1612 and 1614. Born in Venice, Antonio was the son of the artist Agostino Carracci and a Venetian courtesan, Isabella. He first apprenticed with his father. When his father died, Antonio moved to Rome to work under his uncle Annibale from 1602 until 1609, and for whom he may have worked with other studio assistants on the frescoes in the Galleria Farnese. Later, he made a short visit to Bologna to join the workshop of Ludovico Carracci, and returned to Rome in 1610 to work with Guido Reni. In Rome, Antonio executed many important commissions, such as the decoration of three chapels in S. Barolomeo all’Isola and a fresco in one of the rooms of the Pope’s palace at Monte Cavallo commissioned by Cardinal Michelangelo Tonti, the frescoes of the Galleria Farnese.