Exhibition celebrates the work of a powerful artist and the work of a great collector


OXFORD.- An adventurous and brilliant draughtsman, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino (1591–1666) was one of the 17th century’s greatest artists. He drew constantly, with a passion that revealed itself in the vigour and intensity of his preparatory studies. He explored, in drawings, different possibilities for literary and religious subjects, landscapes, and scenes of everyday life – which stand alone as independent works of art. Born in Cento, near Ferrara, Guercino received his nickname, ‘squinter’, as a boy and spent much of his career in his home town. As a young painter, he was inspired by the art of the Carracci in nearby Bologna, particularly their dramatic use of light and shade and the tender naturalism of their style. Following a period spent in Rome in 1621–3, Guercino became interested in a more classical, restrained style of painting, but his preparatory drawings continued to reveal an experimental and energetic approach. We