Annibale Carracci

Pietà (The 'Caprarola' Lamentation)

Pietà (The 'Caprarola' Lamentation) by Annibale Carracci

Artwork Detail

The charged atmosphere in the Pietà is partly brought about by a probably accidental breakdown of the etching ground in the area of the sky. Annibale Carracci seems to have exploited this unexpected occurrence to suggest the approach of the storm after Christ's death and to create a tangible aura of emotional intensity, which is heightened by the intense sorrow crumpling the faces of his followers. Their intertwining limbs form a rhythmical pattern, which leads the viewer's eye from the slumped head of Christ, almost casually framed by his mother's limp hands, along his outstretched arm to the Magdalene who clasps her hands at his feet. The bases of the crosses embedded in the ground behind them mark the site of Christ's suffering, which is further etched on his hands and feet. The image takes its name from Caprarola, the town where it was executed, about fifty-five kilometres from Rome. Annibale learned the art of engraving in the early 1580s from his brother Agostino, who made a prodigious 233 works on paper. Although he rapidly mastered the technique of engraving, Annibale made only 22 prints. In 1590 he turned to etching, which offered greater freedom and developed a system of broken contour lines combined with dots and varied hatching, to simulate the sfumato effect he so admired in Barocci's paintings. (from The Guide, 2001)

Pietà (The 'Caprarola' Lamentation)
Annibale Carracci
Production date
etching with engraving and drypoint
124 x 163 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1981
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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