Giovanni was born at Cento, a village between Bologna and Ferrara.
By the age of 17 Guercino was associated with Benedetto Gennari, a painter of the Bolognese School. By 1615 he moved to Bologna, where his work earned the praise of an elder Ludovico Carracci. He painted two large canvases, Elijah Fed by Ravens and Samson Seized by Philistines, in what appears to be a stark naturalist Caravaggesque style (although it is unlikely he had been able to see any of the Roman Caravaggios first-hand). They were painted for Cardinal Serra, Papal Legate to Ferrara.
The Arcadian Shepherds (Et in Arcadia ego) was painted in 1618 contemporary with The Flaying of Marsyas by Apollo in Palazzo Pitti. His first style, he often claimed, was influenced by a canvas of Carracci in Cento. Some of his later pieces approach rather to the manner of his great contemporary Guido Reni, and are painted with more lightness and clearness. Guercino was esteemed very highly in his lifetime.
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Guercino Paintings - Handmade Canvas Art Reproductions