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Oil painting - The Union of Design and Colour
  • The Union of Design and Colour
    Reni, Guido, born 1575 - died 1642
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The Union of Design and Colour

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Date:

    18th century (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Reni, Guido, born 1575 - died 1642 (after, painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mrs Duroure

  • Museum number:

    312-1864

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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Guido Reni (1575-1642) was born in Bologna and became there a pupil, along with Francesco Albani (1578-1660) and Domenichino (1581-1641) of the Flemish born painter Denys Calveart (ca.1540-1619). They would all transfer to the Carracci Academy in 1595, where he studied under Lodovico and Agostino Carracci. Reni left the Academy in 1598 and by late 1601 had moved to Rome where his received important commissions and befriended the leading painter at this time, Giuseppe Cesari Cavalier d'Arpino (1568-1640). By 1614, Reni resettled in Bologna where he would remain for the rest of his life, undertaking short trips in the Italian provinces such as Ravenna and Naples. He died in Bologna in 1642.

This painting is a copy with colour variations of a composition by Guido Reni executed probably in Bologna during the 1620s. It shows the allegory of Design as a young man on the left and the allegory of Colour as a young woman on the right. The pastel-like palette and the somehow loose brushwork betray 18th-centiry origins.

Physical description

Set against a neutral dark background, on the left a male figure wrapped into a blue cloak is holding a pen in his right hand while he embraced with right arm a female figure on the right, wearing a greyish turban and an ochre and red dress. She holds a palette and some brushes in her right hand while hiding a breast with the other.

Date

18th century (painted)

Artist/maker

Reni, Guido, born 1575 - died 1642 (after, painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

Height: 21 cm estimate, Width: 24.2 cm estimate

Object history note

Bequeathed by Mrs Duroure, 1864
The V&Acentral inventory indicates that nos. 305/312-1864 were bequeathed by Mrs Duroure and the annual report of the Science and Art Department describes briefly the individual works.
A hand written note (Kauffmann?) in the Paintings object files reads:
'the Duroure pictures are described in the letter of acceptance g 6.4.1864 as follows:
2 small Dutch pictures- drinking subjects
1 landscape, Roman
1 Rubens, Samson and lion
1 Simon Vouel [sic]
1 Sir Walter Raleigh
2 Landscapes, Waterloo'

Historical significance: Originally catalogued as Dutch (1893 Catalogue, p. 189), this is a reduced copy, perhaps of the 18th century, after Guido Reni's Union of Design and Colour, executed around 1620-25, in the Musée du Louvre, Paris (Inv. 534), of which there are versions in the collections of the Duke of Devonshire and of Sir W. Worsley, Bt. The original was engraved (in reverse) by S. Le Roy and Le Villain for the Galerie du Musée Napoleon, 1804, no. 179. The engraving shows more clearly than 312-1864 that 'design' is putting pen to paper.

In this painted copy the soft modelling of the flesh and its pale greyish tone with subtle chiaroscuro reflects a technique Reni learned from Cavalier d'Arpino, but the pastel-like palette suggests an 18th-century date. The composition depicts two allegorical figures: 'Design', on the left, shown as a young man holding a pen against a sheet of paper, embraces 'Colour', on the right, shown as a young woman holding a palette and brushes. Reni's original composition is oval whereas this copy is rectangular; it also reduces the originally half-length figures and the colour of their clothes varies. In the original composition, 'Design' wears an ochre cloak, which is blue in the copy, and 'Colour' wears a lilac turban.which is grey in the copy.

The subject-matter alludes to Carracci's academic rules, expounded at the Accademia degli Incamminati from 1585, which emphasised the union of Colour and Design in order to avoid the eccentricity of Mannerism.

Historical context note

Guido Reni (1575-1642) was born in Bologna, where he became a pupil, along with Francesco Albani (1578-1660) and Domenichino (1581-1641), of the Flemish painter Denys Calveart (ca.1540-1619). Reni and his fellow pupils transferred in 1595 to the Carracci Academy, where he studied under Lodovico and Agostino Carracci. He left in 1598 and by late 1601 was in Rome, where he received important commissions and befriended the leading painter Giuseppe Cesari Cavalier d'Arpino (1568-1640). By 1614 Reni had returned to Bologna, where he remained, except for short visits to other cities, such as Ravenna and Naples.

Reni and his Bolognese contemporaries stand as the greatest exponents of the artistic reform, commonly known as High Classicism, which remained a dominent force in European painting until the 19th century.

History paintings based on religious, classical, literary or allegorical subjects, particularly developed in Italy during the Renaissance (15th-16th centuries). The term was most frequently associated with Classical subjects. The development of art treatises, in which the compositional rules guiding the art of painting were discussed also notably, influenced the evolution of history painting.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'The Union of Design and Colour', after Guido Reni, 18th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

C.M. Kauffmann, Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, pp. 236-237, cat. no. 294.
The following is the full text of the entry:

Guido RENI (1575-1642)
North Italian School
Born in Bologna, he studied first under Denys Calvaert, then entered the Carracci Academy c. 1594-95. He was in Rome in 1602 and, after a period in Bologna, again in 1607, where he was influenced by Caravaggio. He worked for Paul V and Cardinal Scipione Borghese. From 1614, he was involved in many projects in Bologna and North Italy. He had a large workshop.

After Guido RENI

294
AN ALLEGORY OF PAINTING: A MAN AND A WOMAN EMBODYING DISEGNO AND COLORE
Canvas
8 ¼ x 9 ½ (21 x 24.2)
312-1864

Originally catalogued as Dutch (1893 Catalogue, p. 189), this is a copy, perhaps of the 18th century, of a composition by Guido Reni. The original is not known but there are versions in the collections of the Duke of Devonshire and of Sir W. Worsley, Bt, which are identical in composition. The original was engraved (in reverse) by S. Le Roy and Le Villain for the Galerie du Musée Napoleon, 1804, no. 179. The engraving shows more clearly than 312-1864 that 'design' is putting pen to paper.

Prov. Mrs Duroure; bequeathed to the Museum in 1864.

Materials

Canvas; Oil paint

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Allegory

Categories

Paintings

Collection code

PDP

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Qr_O132163
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