Guercino (1591-1666), Aurora, circa 1620
Guercino (1591-1666), Aurora, circa 1620, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) © The Courtauld



Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, better known as Guercino (an Italian diminutive meaning ‘squinter’ or cross-eyed), worked in Bologna and Rome and was especially appreciated for the liveliness of his drawings. 

This study of the winged figure of Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn, in her chariot, is one of the earliest and finest of a group of drawings which Guercino made in preparation for his famous ceiling decoration in the Casino Ludovisi in Rome. His handling of red chalk is especially subtle — a mixture of firm and sketchy lines, the soft tones on parts of the face and shoulder created by rubbing with either a finger or a stump (a stick of tightly rolled paper or leather).  

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Two men sit across from each other at a table covered with a brown tablecloth, playing cards. Both men wear overcoats and hats, and the man on the left smokes a pipe. They sit inside a wooden building. i Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) The Card Players, around 1892-96, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)