The biography of Francesco Albani (1578 - 1660)

Francesco Albani or Albano (March 17 or August 17, 1578–October 4, 1660) was an Italian Baroque painter born at Bologna.

His father was a silk merchant who intended to instruct his son in the same trade; but by age twelve, Albani studied in Bologna with the Mannerist Denijs Calvaert, where he met Guido Reni. Soon he joined the so-called "Academy" run by the Carracci family, where he was an enthusiastic pupil. This studio fostered the careers of many painters of the Bolognese school, including Domenichino, Massari, Viola, Lanfranco, Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi, Pietro Faccini, Remigio Cantagallina, and Reni.

Like so many other artists from Bologna, In 1601 he moved to Rome to study classical art and worked on frescoes. Albani lived for several years in Rome, where he had his own academy. In 1616 or in 1617 he returned to Bologna, where he remained except for visits to Mantua in 1621–22 and Florence in 1633. In Bologna he became one of the city’s leading painters and teachers. Carlo Cignani, Andrea Sacchi, Francesco Mola, and Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi were some of his students.

Albani's classicism can be seen in the altarpieces he painted after returning to Bologna. Among them is The Baptism of Christ now in the Bologna Pinacoteca Nazionale. His best-known frescoes are on mythological subjects, such as the “Dance of the Amorini” (c. 1625; Brera, Milan).

Albani initially worked as the assistant to Annibale Carracci and Guido Reni, but soon began receiving commissions of his own. He completed frescoes for the San Diego Chapel in San Giacomo degli Spagnoli between 1602 and 1607. In 1606-7, Albani completed the frescoes in the Palazzo Mattei di Giove in Rome. He later completed two other frescoes in the same palace. In 1609, he completed the ceiling of a large hall with Fall of Phaeton and Council of the Gods for the Palazzo Giustiniani (now Palazzo Odescalchi) at Bassano (di Sutri) Romano. This work was commissioned by the Marchese Vicenzo Giustiniani, famous for also being patron to Caravaggio. During 1612-14, Albani completed the Choir frescoes at the church of Santa Maria della Pace. In 1616 he painted ceiling frescoes of Apollo and the Seasons at Palazzo Verospi in Via del Corso. In later years, Albani developed a mutual, though respectful, rivalry with the more successful Guido Reni.

Albani's best fresco masterpieces are those on mythological subjects. Among the best of his sacred subjects are a St Sebastian and an Assumption of the Virgin, both in the church of San Sebastiano fuori le Mura in Rome. He was among the Italian painters to devote him to painting cabinet pictures. His mythological subjects include The Sleeping Venus, Diana in the Bath, Danaë Reclining, Galatea on the Sea, and Europa on the Bull.