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Camillo Procaccini
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A prolific painter and draftsman who worked in Bologna and Milan during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, Camillo Procaccini is known for his many religious paintings commissioned to decorate churches and religious buildings during the Counter-Reformation. Working in the Bolognese Mannerist style, Procaccini created about a hundred paintings and frescoes that survive and another ninety works known in the literature that have been destroyed or lost. A few of his surviving paintings are small in scale, apparently intended as “cabinet pictures” sold to private collectors, but contemporary letters and other old records indicate that many more once existed. Approximately 170 of his drawings survive, including finished drawings, such as his Grotesque Heads and mythological scenes, intended for sale, as well as studies for paintings. He also made a few etchings on religious subjects. Part of a family of painters, his father Ercole Procaccini the Elder (1515-1595), his two younger brothers and a nephew were artists. Procaccini’s baptismal record has not been located; scholars think he was born around 1555 in Bologna, where his father worked. He was probably first trained by his father. The earliest document found about him records Procaccini’s entry into an art school, the Compagnia dei pittori, in 1571. Scholars think Procaccini probably traveled to Rome around 1580. According to some sources, he was been taken there by Count Pirro Visconti (?-1605) of Milan, who would later become a patron. He received a commission for a painting for a church in Bologna in 1582, a work that was destroyed in 1914. Procaccini was apparently married by 1583, when the birth of a son was recorded. The frescoes he created for the church of San Prospero in Reggio Emilia done in 1585-1587 show him to be a mature artist. His first etching, one of four versions of Rest on the Flight into Egypt (TIB 3904.002) was probably created for a Bolognese publisher about this time. Procaccini received a commission in 1587 for two paintings for a chapel in San Prospero, but completed only St. Roche among the Plague-Stricken (1587, destroyed Dresden 1945) before receiving permission to abandon the project and go to Milan, perhaps at the request of Count Visconti. With his father and brothers, Procaccini relocated to Milan at the end of the year. He was soon hired to decorate Visconti’s villa with frescoes. Procaccini’ Transfiguration (1590, Isola Bella: Borromeo Collection) was painted on commission for the San Fedele, Milan. He also made an etching of the image, his most famous print (TIB 3904.004), probably at this time. He then received commissions for an altarpiece and a pair of organ shutters for the Milan Cathedral in 1590 and 1592, perhaps due to the influence of Visconti, who was then a member of the Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano, the organization that oversaw the construction and decoration of the Cathedral. Commissions for two more sets of organ shutters for the Cathedral followed later. Procaccini received commissions on a regular basis throughout his 42-year career in Milan. Given his large body of work, he must have established a large workshop to assist him, and apparently became very prosperous. He repeated themes in his later work, indicating that his paintings remained n demand. Procaccini received a commission for frescoes for the ceiling of the choir of Saints Paolo e Barnaba in Milan in 1624, when he was around seventy, which were finished the following year. He died in Milan on August 21, 1629. (TNB 4/2013) Selected Bibliography: **DeGrazia, Diane. Correggio and his Legacy: Sixteenth-Century Emilian Drawings. Exhibition catalog, pp. 343-345. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1984. Neilson, Nancy Ward. “General Introducton” and “Register,” in Camillo Procaccini: Paintings and Drawings, pp. ix-xx. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1979. Neilson, Nancy Ward. “Camillo Procaccini: Toward a Reconstruction of the Emilian Years,” in The Art Bulletin, vol. 59, no. 3 (Sept. 1977), pp. 362–374.