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(bapt. Cento, nr. Bologna, 8 Feb. [b ?2 Feb.] 1591; d Bologna, 22 Dec. 1666). One of the outstanding Italian painters and draughtsmen of the 17th century; his nickname Guercino (‘Squinter’) was given to him because of an eye defect that is said to have been caused by a childhood accident. He seems to have been mainly self-taught, and his early work drew on a variety of north Italian sources, notably Ludovico Carracci and Venetian painting, to create a highly individual style characterized by dramatic and capricious lighting, strong colour, and broad, vigorous brushwork. In 1621 one of his patrons, Cardinal Alessandro Ludovisi, became Pope Gregory XV and summoned him to Rome. Among other commissions there he painted the celebrated ceiling fresco of Aurora (1621) in the Casino of the Villa Ludovisi for Gregory's nephew, Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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