Ludovico Carracci
(Bologna 1555 – 1619)

The Vision of Saint Vincent

Oil on canvas, 154 x 101 cm (60.6 x 39.7 inches)

The Virgin and Child (from a print by Barocci which was copied by Agostino Carracci in 1582) (fig. 1), having pierced the clouds suddenly appear to Vincent the Valencian, vested in a dalmatic of a red colour as sharp as a sheet of Ferrari metal. Instruments of torture lie close to a golden vessel «tra vasariano e tibaldesco» («half Vasarian and half Tibaldian»), the dream of every silversmith. The setting is the Lower Po valley, as we infer from «quel costone argilloso, quelle bave di sterpaglia e di radici, quei ciuffi ed arbusti e tronchi fradici, e la frasca dura e pungente contro il cielo al crepuscolo» (“that clay ridge, those lines of brushwood and roots, those tussocks and shrubs and sodden logs, and the hard, cutting branches standing out against the twilight sky”) [Volpe, C. “Sugli inizi di Ludovico Carracci” (The Early Ludovico Carracci), Paragone Arte, 27 (1976): 317-319, pp. 115-129]. Time is told by the print and it is that of the initial years of Palazzo Fava, before 1568.

Fig. 1: Agostino Carracci, Madonna and Child. London, The British Museum.