Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called 'il Guercino', the Walleyed, was one of the formative artist figures of the Italian Baroque. Born in 1591 in Cento, between Bologna and Ferrara, he soon came into contact with the art of Ludovico Carracci (1555-1619), who was not his teacher but an important model. On a trip to Venice in 1618, he also became familiar with the great tradition of Venetian painting, an encounter reflected above all in his velvety, glowing colours in the following years. In 1521 he was summoned to Rome by the newly elected Pope Gregory XV, from the Bolognese patrician family of the Ludovisi, who mainly supported artists from his home town. There Guercino produced works commissioned by high-ranking individuals. With the death of the pope in 1623, Guercino's brief, but successful Roman intermezzo ended, and he returned to Cento, where his style soon changed fundamentally. Remarkably, his departure from the Emilia for Rome had not been marked by an artistic break, by contrast, but was rather accomplished with a high degree of stylistic continuity.