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Francesco Albani

1578 - 1660

Born in 1578 in Bologna, Albani started his training at the age of 12 in the studio of Denis Calvaert. He then moved to the more prestigious Carracci Academy, where he received his first public commissions. The style of his early works shows the strong influence of Ludovico Carracci. In the early 1600s Albani moved to Rome with his friend and fellow painter Guido Reni. In the following years he and Domenichino worked for Annibale Carracci, notably on a series of landscapes with small sacred figures- some of the earliest landscapes to be painted in Rome.

Albani worked on several large frescoes, and also produced small paintings (known as 'cabinet' pictures) of mythological and religious scenes such as the Rest on the Flight into Egypt. By 1617 he had moved back to Bologna and set up a large studio, taking on assistants and pupils.

Albani's later works featured increasing numbers of cupids and cherubs, allegedly modelled on his own children (he had twelve), which he suspended from the ceiling by ropes! Albani's classicising and idealised scenes were hugely popular with 18th century French painters and collectors (Louis XIV owned several) but he fell out of fashion during the 19th century.