Self-Portrait with the Artist's Father and Nephew Antonio
Artist: Annibale Carracci
Oil painting on canvas, 60x48 cm Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
The painter's role and his family roots were questions that mattered deeply to Annibale, who did not agree with his brother Agostino's aspirations to rise in society. Here the painter portrays himself at the easel; behind him we see his elderly father, who had made considerable sacrifices to further the artistic career of his sons, and a youth, probably his nephew Antonio.
On the right appears the profile of a man who may be Agostino. The dignified but essentially modest clothing of Annibale and his father underline their social status, and appear to offer a figurative version of the rebuke the painter had addressed to his brother, who liked to frequent the most refined and influential circles in Rome: "remember, Agostino, that you are the son of a tailor." The portrait painting can also be seen as a family version of the three ages of man, and thus a reworking of a typically Venetian iconographic tradition, dating back to Giorgione and Titian.
From the stylistic viewpoint it is a superb example of Carracci's naturalism, characterized by a bold composition of extreme modernity.
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