Caravaggio’s Bacchus vs. Carracci’s Boy Drinking: the Cleveland Museum’s Italian Baroque in ArtCentrica

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From left to right: Bacchus, Caravaggio (Uffizi Galleries); Boy drinking, Annibale Carracci (Cleveland Museum of Art)

Annibale Carracci’s painting is influenced by Caravaggio, of whom the artist was a great admirer. This can be seen especially in the skillful use of light.

In fact, if you look closely at the jug, you will see how the liquid in it is reflected on the boy’s white shirt, creating an impressive play of mirrors.

Unlike Caravaggio, Carracci, who, like him, portrays a young man while indulging in the intoxication of wine, decided to take a completely different approach.

Both were forerunners of the Italian Baroque, but Carracci distinguished himself by favoring live representation that better reproduced reality without resorting to symbolism and classicism. 

The artist initiated a true reform of pictorial language, which led him to favor the study of “genre painting,” made up of vivid and realistic depictions of ordinary people engaged in everyday activities.

It was the aspects of immediacy and realism that made Boy Drinking, a work with a modern flavor. 

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